Arches, Canyons, and Windows: A Day Crossing Utah

Over the last three days we’ve seen sun, rain, snow, and hail. We’ve driven through mountains, fields, cities, and deserts. On day three we went from Salt Lake City, Utah to Cortez, Colorado. As we drove the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City gave way to red rock canyons and soon we were on our way towards Arches National Park.

On our way to Arches we stopped in Helper, Utah for some gas and to visit an antiques store. My mom found what she wanted, a license plate from Utah, and the man who was at the cash register gave me a old coke bottle that said Salt Lake City on the bottom. After the quick pit stop we were back on our way.

About an hour later the scenery had morphed into beautiful red cliffs and soon we were approaching Arches National Park. Driving up to the massive red wall is intimidating. We were driving narrow roads, climbing and climbing, watching the red ground go on for miles. At the top of the mountain you can pull off and go for hikes though the park. Unfortunately  we didn’t have time for this but we did stop at Park Avenue to walk down the stairs for a look inside a canyon. The tall rocks towered over us. The name fit well. It was the same feeling as in New York. The tall buildings, or rocks, seeming to touch the sky.

After heading up the stairs we made a few other stops at Balanced Rock and on to North and South Window. The loop at North and South Window is worth the drive. You drive by formations that seem to take different shapes each time you look at them. George walked down the path to North and South Window while I stayed and looked around the other side. The park was closing and it was getting dark pretty quickly so we headed back out of the park and on to Moab.

In Moab we grabbed dinner and continued our drive. With the threat of night looming we wanted to get into Colorado before it was too dark. Driving into Colorado was a stark change from the hilly red rocks. It was green, lush, and flat. As we drove the sun set behind us creating spectacular visuals. We headed into our hotel ready to go to bed and prepare to see Four Corners and Glen Canyon Dam.



Entering the State of Deseret

The second day of the trip involved getting from Idaho to Utah with a cut through Nevada. We made our way south to Salt Lake City driving through some dramatic snowy conditions as we made our way through Nevada. Leaving Idaho the scenery changed, becoming rocky and with less greenery, a sign that we were beginning our journey onto the Colorado Plateau.

The rolling hills and wide farm land of Southern Idaho made for a pleasant mornings drive. Fueled by donuts and waffles we hit the road and made good progress towards Twin Falls. Early on we hit dense fog but luckily this did not last long. Rain interspersed the sunshine something that I am sure we will miss as we make our way south. At Twin Falls we turned south towards Nevada, a longer route to Salt Lake City but we wanted to make a stop at the Salt Flats.

Nevada greeted us with snow which took us by surprise. Naturally we stopped to run around although soon we were cold and ready to keep moving. Other than this Nevada proved to be uneventful. The isolation one can experience whilst driving though such wide open spaces is humbling. Surrounding us loomed mountains and ominous clouds. Nature took control of our experience something that was unsurprising as apart from the road we were on there was little else.

Our first stop immediately inside Utah was the Bonneville Salt Flats. The flats are famous today for the role in facilitating the land speed record attempts. It is not hard to see why when you are there either. Vast does not cover how big the lake beds are. Extending for miles and completely level the Salt Flats are perfect for the fastest cars ever made. The experience was awe-inspiring.

Afterwards we drove into the beautiful Salt Lake City. The city is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and sits at the edge of the rather special Great Salt Lake. The first thing we noticed as we drove in was how wide the roads were. This is a result of the clever planning by Mormon pioneers who wanted their roads to be wide enough to turn a horse and cart without unhitching.  The whole city is wide and spacious and proved to be a worthwhile stop on our trip. For dinner we had pizza and after took a walk to see the downtown area. Exhausted, we just about stayed up past nine o’clock. We need the rest, the next few days will be big.

Day two of the trip lived up to the promise of the first day. Once again the scenery and weather surpassed our expectations any monotony was broken by spectacular vistas and mountains. The Salt Flats were worth the extra driving to see, beginning what promises to be a special drive through Utah. From Salt Lake City we look south to canyon country and the deserts of the Southwest. I would also like to take a moment to thank our Airbnb hosts in Salt Lake City who went above and beyond for us. They made our night in the city extra special.


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