Corona Arch Glory

Corona Arch Glory

Evening clouds over the canyon at our campground

Evening clouds over the canyon at our campground

It’s finally time for us to leave all the past weeks’ frivolity behind and get back to regular blogging. Or, at least become just a tad less frivolous (I try, really I do). This past week we’ve been hanging & hiking in Moab, UT and I’ve got lots to tell.

First up, I should admit that I was in two minds about coming to Moab. It’s not that this isn’t a pretty place…it is. It’s not that it hasn’t got fabulous views, a great little town and awesome hikes…it has. The problem lies in the fact that everyone and his brother thinks so too which means if the weather is anywhere close to good this place is mobbed!

This sign was out every single day!

This sign was out every single day!

Finally settled...phew!!!

Finally settled…phew!!!

Our first impressions were not exactly good. There’s zero boondocking for our size around Moab, so we arrived mid-week and early in the day looking to get into one of the 26 BLM campgrounds around town (I mean, that should be enough choices right?). I stopped at the first campground on U-128  to chat to Watson’s Wonder who were in town. Not only were there zero open sites, but I counted 10 rigs that drove by looking while we were talking. Agh! We continued down the road to no sites, no sites, no sites until by some magic we landed a huge (enormous) site in Big Bend Campground, possibly the last and only one left in Moab(?). Five minutes later there were people fighting over sites across the way from us and the craziness has not stopped since.  The campground has been full every day, has had cars driving through every day and it’s been a test of musical chairs for anyone to get a spot. I’m infinitely happy we landed our huge spot, but the stress is a little too much for me. Yikes!

Having won the campsite lottery we bought a week and decided to enjoy what Moab has to offer. After all there’s a reason people come here, and despite our rocky start I’ll admit we’ve had fun. Here’s just a sampling of the stuff we’ve been doing around town:

1/ Arches National Park

No-one comes to Moab without a stop at Arches National Park, home of over 2,000 sandstone arches including the famous Delicate Arch that adorns all the Utah license plates. Like all National Parks it doesn’t allow dogs on any of the trails (always a bummer for us), so we didn’t spend nearly as much time as we would have liked exploring the trails, but we did take advantage of free pass week to do the drive-through (totally do-able for anyone in a few hours) and the 3-mile roundtrip hike to Delicate Arch. The park offers a huge array of differing landscapes from towers to arches to crazy badlands and many of the views are visible right from the road. Totally worth the visit!

Driving through the "Courthouse Towers" in Moab

Driving through the “Courthouse Towers” in Arches

The view at Delicate Arch

The view at Delicate Arch

2/ Exploring The “Arms” & Hiking With Doggie

There are 3 main scenic drives that branch off just north of town along BLM (and thus pooch-friendly) land. I call them the “arms” of Moab and each one has tons of interesting sights & doggie-friendly hikes. The drives/hikes are popular so unless you get to the trails by ~8AM (which is what we did), be ready for lots of people! Still, these are ALL worth it, no matter what time you go:

Utah 128 -> Negro Bill & Fisher Towers

In awe at 243 foot Morning Glory Bridge

In awe at the base of 243 foot Morning Glory Bridge

This is the closest drive to town and follows a stunning canyon that runs east along the Colorado river and past the most popular BLM campgrounds. A few miles in is one of the best doggie-hikes in Moab = Negro Bill Canyon, that goes through several stream-crossings and ends at a stunning 243 foot long natural Bridge. Fabulous! About 21 miles in is another gem, Fisher Towers where you can stroll below the towers and see crazy people doing crazy climbing up the rocks. I managed to get lost within the first 200 feet of this hike (a new record for me), but I’m sure you’ll do better :) DO stop at the winery and cowboy museum on your way back to town.

View of Manti La Sal Mountains from U-128

View of Manti La Sal Mountains from U-128

Utah 279 -> Petroglyphs & Corona Arch

All alone at Corona Arch

All alone at Corona Arch

This canyon road follows an arm to the west of Moab, passing several large climbing-walls and interesting petroglyphs within the first 5 miles. About 10 miles in you can access another fabulous paw-friendly hike, Corona Arch. It’s a fun scramble with a few uphill ropes, but will finish at a wonderful 140 by 105 feet arch. Sadly, this very arch was the site of a death from a swing stunt just last month and we saw the flowers on the base to commemorate it. Some people are just too crazy to understand.

Utah 313 -> Dead Horse Point State Park

Polly on the trail

Polly on the trail

This road is the furthest north from Moab and is around a 28-mile trip. It will take you up onto the top of a Mesa and across sweeping views all the way to Dead Horse Point State Park, where you can walk the easy 4-mile rim trail with doggie. The rim lies 2000 feet above the valley floor and is one of the best places in the entire Moab area to get an “aerial” view of 10 million years of plateau uplift and rock erosion. Be ready for hot sun and no shade, but fabulous views. This is not just a great place to stay, but an awesome spot to gawk too. Simply stunning!

Nothing beats the panorama at Dead Horse Point State Park

Nothing beats the panorama at Dead Horse Point State Park

3/ Hanging With Friends

Hanging with our RV buddies at Goose BLM Campground

Hanging with our RV buddies at Goose Island BLM Campground

Spring and Fall are the absolute best months to visit Moab so it’s no surprise that other savvy RV bloggers are here too. We knew Watson’s Wonder were hanging in town and had been avidly following the hiking & jeeping adventures of Oh The Places They Go! for weeks before we arrived (seriously check out some of their jeeping posts -> I’m glad they’re doing these nutty roads so I don’t have to!). We all got together for a fabulous happy hour earlier in the week at Amanda&Tim’s lovely waterfront site and enjoyed it so much we gathered again at Pam&John’s very stylish spot later in the week. It never ceases to amaze me how easily we’ve met great folks on the road, and this week was just another example of that. Definitely five bonus point to Moab on this one!

It can be quite gorgeous around here. On the Negro Bill Canyon Hike

It can be quite gorgeous here. All alone in the early morning on the Negro Bill Canyon Hike

That about rounds up our week in Moab. Despite the campsite craziness I have to admit it’s a cool little town. There’s a good downtown, decent food (check out the top-rated Quesadilla Food Truck), good shopping (Moonflower Market is a fabulous health-food store), great hiking (even with doggie, yeah!), awesome views and good people to boot. I think if we were to come back we’d stay further out by the more relaxed Horsethief BLM Campground, but there’s lots of stuff we didn’t manage to see and we’d certainly stop again.

By the stream in Negro Bill Canyon

By the stream in Negro Bill Canyon

A mini-arch on the Corona Hike

A mini-arch on the Corona Hike

Lost but happy at Fisher Towers

Lost but happy at Fisher Towers

Polly plays by the Colorado

Polly plays by the Colorado

And in red..

Up close in red..

And in yellow...

And in yellow…

Early morning hike

Early morning hike

Yours truly at Delicate Arch

Yours truly at Delicate Arch

45 Responses to Campsite Lottery, Red Rock Hiking & Friends – Moab, UT

  1. jil mohr says:

    I love it there even with all the people…though I have to admit the times we have been there it was not as crowded as your visit it…we took some great hikes there…one or two that would shock you that I actually accomplished:) I just can’t remember what they were called…

    • libertatemamo says:

      We enjoyed our visit, especially our (very) early morning hikes. I have to admit the crowds got to us a bit though. Tonight we’re happy to be back in the boonies again.
      Nina

  2. Michael says:

    Great photos – Moab is a very scenic place, we enjoyed our trip there many years ago. This might give you more ideas for future trips there – http://www.grossie.net/Michael/moab_07.htm.

  3. Debby & Bill says:

    The Moab Brewery is fantastic too if you haven’t been there, be sure to check it out next time!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Cheers for the tip! We didn’t end up making it there, but it’s on the list for when we come back. Heard a lot of good about the Brewery and also the local Pizza joint.
      Nina

  4. Years ago, Mike and I drove to Moab, rented a canoe and spent a week rowing down the Green River through Canyonlands National Park, camping each evening beside the river, deep in the canyon with the massive cliff walls on each side of the river. We were all alone and out of the range of communications. It was late spring and flowers grew wild along the banks. We saw and heard much wildlife, including a herd of wild horses. We were picked up by the outfitters where the Green River meets the Colorado River. That was one of the most wonderful, memorable trips of my life. Your key word “Moab” triggers all those fantastic memories for me. Thanks! We can’t wait to return to that area as RV’ers.

    • libertatemamo says:

      What an absolutely amazing trip you did! That sounds like something I could get into. Exactly the kind of adventure I love!
      Nina

  5. Suzanne Tate says:

    Has your doggie ever gotten into trouble on any of these hikes? Like a snake bite or something like it, or does she stay pretty close to you guys?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thankfully no. She stays really close to us, and is scared of just about everything unusual. So she’s more likely to run than investigate. She has gotten a few cactus spikes over the years, but that’s kinda expected with all the desert hiking we do. If she steps in one she’ll stop and pick up her paw so we can take it out.

      Nina

  6. Smitty says:

    Ahhh yes, Moab…. a ‘wow place of nature’…

    We first hit Arches in a early AM drive thru ‘in and out’, catching the sunrise. Before heading off to where you have come from, Monument Valley. It was funny, as we went from the 30’s during the Arches drive, to a late in the day One Hundred Teen’s in Monument Valley….

    Your pictures, per usual, has me drooling to return earlier then later!

    Nice post!!!
    Smitty

    • libertatemamo says:

      Utah weather can be so crazy. Chilly in one spot and roasting the next! We’ve been pretty lucky so far, but I know May will push some high temps so we plan to be well north by then.
      Nina

  7. I just read Watson’s Wonder and saw the little party y’all had with Pam and John, dear friends of ours. We hope to explore that area come October. Just too beautiful to miss.

  8. Mark Gehring says:

    I guess its too easy to add yet more adulation for this place. We went there last September for 8 ( hot ! ) days, stayed in Portal RV park. Would rather have done what you guys did ( which we did tent camping back in 2004 ), but everything was jammed as you know. We went into Arches five days straight, then explored Canyon Lands both north and south. Since we did not have a dog then it was no problem, but after we got back we got a new pooch, so we’ll probably avoid NP’s for now. Great pics and post, as usual! ( Oh, one more thing – I broke my ankle rock climbing near some petroglyphs on Potash road just a few miles from town. That was back in 1995, before I met my wife …. )

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know I was surprised at how many paw-friendly trails there were outside the NP. Definitely made our stay worthwhile. Apart from the one day we were in Arches, we spent the rest of our time hiking outside the park.

      Still…hot and packed in Sept? I’m amazed at how popular the place has become, even late season. Definitely a tad too busy for my liking.

      Nina

  9. Sherry says:

    I take it the weather must have been terrific and that if the weather isn’t deadly hot or cold then the place is jammed packed. Great information since we want to do the parks near there possibly next spring. Any reason you didn’t stay in Arches campground other than Polly? We are sans pets at the moment and I thought we might stay there. But perhaps the BLMs are better.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah weather was near perfect our time here, so that definitely contributed to the crowds. The BLM host told us spring is almost always like this.

      Two reasons we didn’t camp in Arches NP -> one was Polly as you guessed, and the other is that we wouldn’t fit (it’s 30 foot max. Limit). If you’re the right size, and sans dog then the NP campground would be perfect. It’s a totally amazing location at the very end of the park. Very scenic and right next to great hiking. Do camp there if you can!

      Nina

  10. Ahh!! Moab and Arches hold a special place in my heart. Where I fell head over heels for the desert. Negro Bill was my favorite hike cuz I kept dipping my hat in the creek and pouring cool water over me on a very hot day (even though we had shady bits). Next time I’ll be rapelling Morning Glory Arch! Funny, we went to Delicate before sunset one evening with all the photogs and there was one fellow- not malicious, just oblivious- who walked right up to the base and was goofing while everyone was yelling at him to ‘get out of the shot!’. He was clueless. Finally he realized they were yelling at HIM! And he high tailed it up the slope so folks could capture their shot. Soo funny! Great pics as usual Nina….!

    • libertatemamo says:

      What a great set of stories about the area! I can totally imagine all those photographers upset with a guy in the middle of their shot…what a scene! And poor guy with no clue LOL.
      Negro Canyon was one of our fav hikes in the area too. Love the combo of landscape and water. Quite special!
      Nina

  11. Pam Wright says:

    Great job getting your week into one blog! You really captured some beautiful moments in your photos. Polly is so good at posing. John and I discussed starting our last post with our evening get together. Now as we read your post we realized neither of us remembered…darn!! It was so nice to have plenty of time to talk and catching up. I shared the chocolate mousse with our daughter and she is all set to make it. She was very excited to hear of the recipe with avocado. Safe travels until we meet again!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Thanks so much for inviting us over. It was a total blast, and great to see you both again. Good travels and hopefully we’ll meet again down the road.
      Nina
      P.S. glad you both liked the recipe too. That’s one of my faves!

  12. Gunta says:

    You should have been there in the late 70s-very early 80s… virtually undiscovered! It was heavenly.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Ahhhh..sure wish I could have experienced that. Sadly places always change, especially the best ones. Just have to keep finding those hidden gems I guess.
      Nina

  13. Gaelyn says:

    I haven’t been there since the 70s, and yes it was deserted then.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Would have loved to have seen it during that time. SE Utah (south of Moab) still has the remote feel, but Moab has gotten very busy.
      Nina

  14. Woooo hooooo. Thanks for the heads up we should be there in July. Will see how it goes!

    Erick and Lynda

    • libertatemamo says:

      Ooooo…July may be hot, hot, hot. I’m thinking you’ll have a lot more choice during that time, but may be needing hook ups? There is some shade at some of the BLM campgrounds, but not much.
      Nina

  15. Amanda says:

    You really did win the campground lottery! Even our BLM campground with 128 sites is full, full, full. Moab certainly is a busy little town! We had a great time hanging out this week and glad we fit in one more visit tonight. Happy travels this summer and maybe we’ll cross paths again in the fall.

    • libertatemamo says:

      It was fabulous to see you guys too. Maybe our travels will meet up again later this year. Enjoy your summer in Colorado!
      Nina

  16. Rhett McJunkin says:

    I’m going to have to quit reading this. I get so damn jealous every time I see these pictures and then I head back in to work on Monday morning. Do you have any idea how badly you’re killing my morale? Lol.

  17. In May 2009 we got extremely lucky and landed a river front site at Goose Island the week before Memorial Day. In 2010 we opted for Ken’s Lake, http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/recreation/campgrounds/ken_s_lake.html, another BLM area 10 miles south of Moab. There are quite a few sites for big RVs, the scenery is lovely, and there are a couple of nice hiking trails.
    Enjoyed your photos, makes us want to go back to Moab!

    • libertatemamo says:

      The riverfront sites at Goose Island are lovely…and very hard to get. You were definitely lucky!
      We looked at Ken’s Lake. In fact it was one of our backups in case the sites at U-128 didn’t work out. Good to know it can fit our size.
      Nina

  18. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    Moab always reminds me of the movie Planet of the Apes. Looks like lots of great places to explore…maybe even the Forbidden Zone ha. At the delicate arch it looks like you are about to be eaten by a Giant Sea Horse. Many places you go there are carved symbols that may be telling us something? You are just having too much fun and I’m pea green with envy. Remember not to snap your last picture…save it for a mysterious UFO.

    • libertatemamo says:

      The pic of me at Delicate Arch was a funny angle. Does look a bit like some kind of giant alien legs haha.
      I always keep that last pic for the aliens ya know :)
      Nina

  19. Just discovered that we were in the same cg for the last two days. I follow your blog and am sorry we didn’t get to meet. We like to camp at the same places. Moab is much busier that it was last year.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh what a total bummer! Sorry we missed ya! Hope you enjoy the rest of your time there.

      We enjoyed our stay, but sure are happy to be somewhere more relaxed again. We had people fighting over our site before we left this AM…too much!

      Nina

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know I was just looking through my photos and I think I took a shot of your rig in my campsite shots. You guys were behind the group site by the river?
      Nina

  20. Nice header! Beautiful. I know Ill have mine when we get there. Thanks for the many information esp about the crowd and campsite lottery. We will not be at a loss when we get there, someday.

  21. […] ← Campsite Lottery, Red Rock Hiking & Friends – Moab, UT […]

  22. LuAnn says:

    Beautiful photos Nina. We can’t wait to explore Utah. Love your new header. :)

  23. […] gods near Goosenecks, gaped in awe of the ancients near Comb Ridge and topped it all off with the red rocks of Moab. This period also gifted us with our first (and in retrospect amusing) encounter with RV […]

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