All of Utah in One Day (Sort Of)

At the ugly cow-milking hour of 4:00am, my alarm went off. Immediately, I was faced with the conflict: keep sleeping (my body was all in favor of this) or rally and wake Kacey and Allison and drive the RV to Arches for a sunrise hike to Delicate Arch.

We’d researched it the night before, and it seemed doable. 1.5 miles of uphill trail ending at the beautiful Delicate Arch, sun-kissed and relatively people-free. But also, I like sleeping.

Somehow, I rallied. I reasoned we would not get this chance again, and so I shook Allison’s foot violently until she woke up and we got sorted and hit the road. We reached the trailhead by 5:30, a little bit later than we’d hoped since the RV is a slow-goer on the uphill road through Arches. (Again, got there early and did not have to show my pass for entry AND there was no one there.)

The sunrise was supposed to happen at 6:03, but it was already light out at 5:30 when we started the hike. It was well-marked, with trail signs and cairns, although once the trail turned from gravel to sand to rock, it was a little more dubious. I ran-walked up the last part, hoping to reach the arch for sunrise, but 6:03 came and went with no arch.

A little sullen, I lowered my expectations – then turned the bend, saw the arch, and man was it breathtaking. Maybe 8 people hung around the sandstone bowl that sits near the arch, with couples taking turns having their photos snapped beneath the arch.

Every photo I have, I took with my Olympus camera and have posted here un-edited.

If you get the chance to see Delicate Arch at sunrise, do it. It really was an absolute stunner.


Arches at sunrise


Kacey takes in the sunrise


Underneath Delicate Arch


Hiking back in all that blue and orange.


Well-marked trail


Allison looks at the sand.


Pretty hike.


Sun hitting Delicate Arch



We took our time hiking back down to the RV, where we made breakfast and relaxed post-hike before driving back to the RV park. It was still early when we rolled in, so we decided to take the time to empty our waste tank, because it was full even though the Cruise America lady had sworn we wouldn’t have to empty it.

We pulled up alongside the dump site and Allison put on a poncho and cloth work gloves.  Before she could get to work, though, a woman walking her chihuahua spotted us and laughed.

“You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” she said, tying her dog’s leash to the back of a much more seasoned-looking camper. “I’ll help. Hold this.” She handed me some empty dog poop bags and pulled out some latex gloves from her pocket.

“How did you know?” Kacey asked her.

“Anytime I see a Cruise America vehicle, I know you probably have no idea how to empty your tanks. So I’ll show you,” she said. “First, you need latex gloves. Get some. Not those work gloves. They’ll get filthy.”

She then showed us – Allison, mostly – how to empty the waste tank. If you’re interested in knowing how, I will tell you. You take the accordion-looking sewage hose and put one end in the waste hole and you screw the other end to the hole in the RV. That end locks in nicely. Then, you pull the black valve (for the black tank, which is your fecal waste), empty that, and when it’s done, pull the other valve so the grey water comes out and flushes the fecal material from the sewage hose. When done, close the valves, unscrew the hose, and pack it in.

I say all of this because, in a few entries, you will doubt whether we knew all of this, and I say to you: we knew. We knew how to empty a waste tank.

The rest of the day was insane. We wanted to hike to Landscape Arch, so we headed back to Arches around 11:30, and whoa. The lines of cars backed up at the entrance were nuts. It was a completely different, crowded experience.

We did a quick 2-mile hike to Landscape Arch, snapped a few photos, and drove an hour out of Arches to a hike called Negro Bill. I know. I think they’re changing it, but I forget the name it’s supposed to be changed to.

This hike weaved along a creek and was meant to be 3 miles roundtrip, but we decided to turn back halfway through because it was already 1:30pm and we had a packed afternoon. Also, the hike was lined with poison ivy. And for the record, Utah poison ivy does not look like New Jersey poison ivy. Kacey ended up, somehow, with itchy elbows.

Our next stop was Castle Creek Winery, which sat a little further downriver and boasted beautiful views. The wine tasting was a rushed affair, with 3 pours for a dollar. The second you finished one small pour, the next pour was in.

We sauntered over to the bar instead, where we split a rather expensive bottle of Chardonnay (made there, and so amazing) overlooking the green Colorado River snaking through red canyons. We would’ve stayed for more if we didn’t have a 1-hour drive ahead of us to Canyonlands.


Castle Creek Winery.

At 6:30pm, we rode on through the unmanned gates to Canyonlands, and it was dead. Seriously. There was no one there. It was shocking. We pulled into the first parking lot and wandered around catching glimpses of canyons.

Utah really is canyon country. Imagine being an explorer stumbling upon this land. One of the park maps described the landscape as mountains having been sliced in half, and it was pretty accurate. Canyonlands is vast, and I wish we could have explored more of it, but we’d also read that sunset at Dead Horse State Park was not to be missed, so we cruised on over there.

It was OK. I expected spectacular colors and a painted sky, but instead there were crowds of people and a rather pastel sunset. It was still beautiful, but I wonder if Canyonlands might have offered something else.

By the time we got back to the RV park, beneath that crazy sky full of stars, we were too exhausted to move. I’d say that’s a good day.


Canyonlands sure is gorgeous : )


Colorful Canyonlands


Such cool rock with so many cool layers.



Dead Horse State Park

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