This has been a year of challenge but not a year of inaction. Despite our plans at the beginning of the year being abruptly disrupted by many circumstances out of our control, we’ve managed to not only shift that disappointment into gratitude but to continue down this path without expectation or any idea whatsoever as to where it might lead.
Fast forward to December, the year is almost over and my god, how it has flown by. We’ve spent the year 2020, in deep reflection. For the past six months, we’ve enjoyed the solitude and sanctuary of the land we call home, the longest time we have ever spent here stationary. It has been a year of many sunsets and sunrises, a year of many endings and beginnings. A year of letting go of connections/relationships that no longer serve us and a year of expanding ourselves and forging new connections. It has truly been a year of love & growth.
Our favorite thing about living in Southwest Colorado is that the desert is just a stone’s throw away. In just about three hours, we watch the Rockies fade in our rear view mirror, as the red sandstone and slick rock desert plateau rises and expands all around us. The diversity and change of scenery is refreshing enough to feed our hunger for adventure. Utah is our home away from home, just like the mountains, the desert too, is always calling and we must go!
Moab in the spring/summer is a place we abhor, the landscape becomes polluted with tourists making it impossible to enjoy nature’s wonders in peace. Moab in the fall/winter however, is a sanctuary. Only a few months ago, in August we drove through this area, to see a line of over a hundred cars restlessly waiting to enter Arches National Park. Now in December, when we arrived, we were the only vehicle at the entrance, timing is everything. We have been through Moab dozens of times, we have been to Arches but we have never had the opportunity to explore and enjoy this landscape away from hundreds of tourists. This would be the first time, and we intended to milk every minute of it.
Up at 6am, we arrived at the trailhead for the famed Delicate Arch, a 52 foot tall, free standing arch located in the park and one of the MOST popular. There were only three other cars in the parking lot and we were giddy with excitement. The temperature was below freezing, somewhere around 12 degrees Fahrenheit, so we bundled up in warm gear to begin the relatively quick hike.
The hike is a total of 1.5 miles one way, however it has a bit of elevation gain for persons not acclimated to the altitude. We climbed in the dark, our fingers numb and our cheeks frozen reaching the Arch in perfect time for the Sunrise. The arch is located on slick rock and surrounded by cliffs with 360 degree views of the desert plateau. The view was overwhelming and truly indescribable as we sat on the rocks, with the few other couples who were there, all silent, freezing and patiently waiting for the sun.
That magical hour between night and sunrise is my favorite thing about the colder months. There’s something so inexplicably beautiful and reflective about watching that transition take place, night turning into day. If you plan to hike Delicate Arch, definitely force yourself awake for sunrise, you will not regret it.
While we were in the park, we also explored a few other arches we never got the chance to see due to crowd congestion in our previous visits. We hiked through the Devils Garden, as the sun slowly crept up and over the giant rock pillars dazzling us with her glow. We made our way to Landscape Arch, an arch spanning a width of 295ft making it the fifth longest Arch in the world. In 1991 a portion of the Arch crumbled and collapsed terrifying visitors who were hiking beneath it, the trail is no longer accessible under the Arch, but you still can get a pretty great perspective at how massive it is.
We then made our way to the other side of the park to see the immaculate double arch. Double arch is the tallest and longest Arch in the park. It’s super easy to walk to and there are no restrictions prohibiting you from climbing the rocks and going beneath it. Climbing up the rocks and looking out from under the double arch gives a spectacular view.
Our favorite hike and Arch we ended up seeing was actually outside the boundary of the National Park. The Corona Arch, standing at 105 ft and spanning a width of 140ft across located on BLM lands. The hike was pretty easy, totaling 3 miles roundtrip. We had heard of this Arch before after watching a YouTube video of this adventurous group of people who turned the arch into the worlds largest rope swing. Since that video, many others have attempted to recreate that stunt and unfortunately resulted in tragic deaths. Visitors are no longer allowed to do things like that at the Arch, which seems like regulations they should have had in the first place to conserve the natural beauty.
Corona Arch, is an arch you do not want to miss. The hike leads you right up to it and underneath it, really putting into scale how magical this landscape truly is. Because it was off season, we managed to enjoy the beauty of the Arch in solitude for quite some time.
After a morning spent hiking, a scenic drive was the perfect way to spend the evening. Through the canyon we crept, following the snaking Colorado River. Sheer rock walls towering on both sides, we were specks in a sea of crumbled rock and massive boulders.
We followed the road up and up, climbing towards the La Sal mountains. There is a scenic back way that takes you very close to the base of the la sal peaks, where a plethora of hiking trails await exploration. This scenic back way is a locals favorite in the summer, to escape the heat and the crowds. The road climbs up a couple thousand feet and there are a series of lakes located in the national forest. At the summit, views extended themselves as far as the eye could see. From the silhouetted formations of Glen canyon and the Henry mountains to the eroded buttes of green river. The perfect location to watch a sunset.
Our time in Moab made us appreciate this region all the more. We were so grateful to be able to explore and see everything we got to see without the hassle of lines and large crowds.
Winter season in Moab is the way to go! Have you ever been to Moab? Tell us about your experience in the comments 🙂