Socially Distant Utah, starting with Moab

We flew into Salt Lake City on July 4 and headed south to Arches National Park early on the 5th, bunking in Moab at the Gonzo Inn.

We stopped by the park for junior ranger booklets and to pull over at a spot that allowed me to take a photograph I took with my Kodak Disc camera in 1987, and I can’t tell which one is better, but here’s the one from 2020:

It’s called Balanced Rock, and I’m pretty sure why.

My bride suggested we do what seemed like an easy 1-mile hike through the red rocks called Park Avenue, ending at Courthouse Towers (much of the park and its trails are named after seemingly familiar objects in rock formations), but since it was through loose sand and in 105+ degree heat, the children did not think it all that easy and let their displeasure be known. “This is why I’ve been telling y’all to exercise all summer–the next 9 days will be just like this.”

Stop whining, babies.

We retraced our steps for the mile walk back to the car, drove to various overlooks in the park, and watched the sun set over Delicate Arch, which is so famous that it’s on Utah’s license plates.

That night, after Moab Brewery for dinner, we enjoyed the Gonzo Inn pool, the Gonzo Inn robes, and the Gonzo Inn’s lackadaisical enforcement of any open container or smoking prohibitions.

Our second day at Arches National Park included what may very well be our family’s favorite hike in a national park (eclipsing Vernal+Nevada Falls at Yosemite): the Double O Arch trail.

The trail went by Landscape Arch first, which made for a Christmas-card-worthy photo opportunity before we started the 2-mile ascent up a stone incline, across a narrow stone bridge, and through rock formations, guided by cairns until we arrived at the namesake double arches for hydration and rest before enjoying the hike in reverse.

Despite the scorching heat and steep inclines, the children followed us without lagging or complaining. Afterward, we were finished hiking for the day and did some driving/pulling off the road to see stuff like these petroglyphs:

Then, it was time for pizza and beer at Zax, some gelato in the village nearby, and back to the Gonzo Inn pool. The next morning, after breakfast at Red Rock Bakery, we’d head west to my 33rd national park, Canyonlands.

We loved our 2 days hiking Arches and exploring Moab, which, judging by the new hotel construction and the road widening project, is poised to become an even more popular tourist destination than it already is. You should hurry up and go before it gets overcrowded.


  1. Deborah Moebes

    That was for real my favorite hike. So peaceful, and everyone was so excited to be there. If I hadn’t gotten stuck on that rock 20 ft up, it would have been flawless–but at least now I know how to crab-walk on sandstone, so I’ve got that going for me. Glad you found us the Gonzo Inn, that place was sublime!!

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