National Parks: Canyonlands and Arches (Utah)

While we were in Moab, we wanted to get out and see two of the closest national parks to where we were staying at the Canyonlands Campground. We were in a prime location to check out Arches and Canyonlands.

Canyonlands National Park

An amazing crater!During our day in Canyonlands National Park we spent all of our time in the northern area of the park called “Islands In the Sky”. The drive from Moab was between 45 minutes to an hour. We got up extra early to get there so we could get a couple of hikes in before it got too hot. Our plan was to hike the Grand View Point Trail first. This is a very easy 2 mile round trip hike that gives you amazing vistas and a look into a pretty amazing crater.

On top of Whale RockOur second hike was up The Whale Rock Trail. This is a 1 mile round trip hike with a little bit of elevation gain, but gives great views of canyons. The kids were happy we were finally letting them climb all over the rocks! They loved being way up high. They felt like they were on top of the world!

After a stop at the visitors center to fulfill our Jr. Ranger duties and explore all of the exhibits, we headed out for one last hike of the day to Mesa Arch. This is probably one of the most beautiful arches. It is so delicate and to catch the sunrise through it would be amazing (we saw the pictures, but were not up quite early enough to see it in person). The Mesa Arch hike is only a half mile round trip, and well worth the effort.


The heat got the better of us, so we went back to the campground for food, rest, and swimming before starting it all over again the next day!


Arches National Park

And amazing landscapesWe had a similar plan for Arches, with a very slightly later start time. The drive is really only about 5-10 minutes from the Campground to the gates. We started our morning bypassing the visitors center (I had picked up the Jr. Ranger packets for Arches a few days earlier, so we were set) and headed straight up the hill to the Park Avenue hike. I really like this one because, even though we were early and it wasn’t as hot as it would get, we were in the shade and it felt wonderful. This hike is classified as a moderate hike, but the kids had no problem with it. There are some stairs, but it wasn’t too bad. It is 2 miles round trip (out and back), and I would say at the time we were there 80% of it was shaded. As we hiked we were losing our shade.

DSC_6343Our second hike was just up the road a bit. On our last trip to Arches we hiked into Double Arch, which is a super easy hike in and is only a half mile round trip. It is great for kids, so we decided to head back there. The scramble up the the arches can be a little challenging for some, but we all scurried right up the sides. The kids spent over an hour climbing and playing in the shade of the arches.

We really enjoyed this time letting the kid’s energy burn off, but we could feel the temperature rising and decided to get back in the car for the rest of our driving tour through the park before heading back to the visitors center to finish the Jr. Ranger packets and enjoy their wonderful exhibits.


We really love this area and the time we spent here. It will be fun to go back in the future and explore all of the places we weren’t able to get into on this trip. We barely scratched the surface!

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