Monday, October 10, 2016


About a year ago, my parents asked if we wanted to join them on a trip to Moab, which despite living only a few hours away from, we had never been.  I've mentioned this before, but the desert really isn't my thing.  Perhaps I was still scarred from our time living in Arizona, but I really didn't find much beauty in rocks.  Even red rocks.  So yeah, I wasn't itching to go to Moab.  But I'm always on board for a vacation with my parents!  So of course we joined them!  As I mentioned in this post a week ago, I have really come to love Utah; so I went into this trip with an open mind.  I was rather excited for the hiking and the exploring, just hoping to be blown away by it all.

We decided to rent an amazing house (of which I took no pictures) and stay for a whole week, so that we weren't rushed through anything.  If your plan is only to visit Arches National Park, you could easily do it in two days.  But after talking with lots of friends who had visited many times, we knew there much outside of the park to explore.  We wanted to make a real vacation of it, so a week it was!  Our house was just a few minutes south of downtown Moab.  We hiked each day, sometimes twice.  We tailgated afterwards, as a sweet reward.  We hit the pool & the hot tub in the evenings.  Cocktail hours followed by big feasts, sometimes after the kids were put to bed.  I meal planned out our whole week & then made one big Costco run the day before our trip.  My mom brought the booze; it was a good partnership.     

I apologize in advance for the picture & information overload.  I'll try to share all our hikes (and what were our favorites), in hopes that this will be a helpful reference.  If you are thinking about going to Moab, just do it!  We went the very last week of September, and the weather was absolutely perfect.  I can't imagine doing this trip in the heat of summer, so I suggest Spring or Fall.  So what we did:

Night One: Moonflower Canyon (Moab)
You walk through a campsite (which is small & adorable; I would totally camp here) before taking a small trail to a tiny water hole.  Super short hike, but a beautiful little spot.  The drive to the canyon takes you along the Colorado river and was stunning in itself, especially at sunset.  This wasn't a huge destination, but perfecting for stretching our legs after our drive down to Moab and getting everyone excited for what was to come that week.

Day 2: Sand Dune Arch Trail (Arches)
This was a roughly 3.5 mile hike that starts at the super popular Sand Dune Arch.  Just as you would expect, tons of sand.  We brought shovels & pails for the boys to play with here.  I'm sure they could have spent a good hour or so right at this arch, but we were all excited to hike instead.  The trail also takes you to Broken Arch as well as Tapestry Arch.  The trail was mostly empty which we loved.  Liam learned how to follow cairns (stacks of rocks that help you stay on the trail; especially over slick rock where it isn't obvious).  This was our favorite "hike" within Arches National Park.

Day 3: Negro Bill Canyon (Moab)
Everyone's favorite hike!  5 miles round trip and enjoyable and stunning the whole way!  You slowly climb up to Morning Glory bridge which is breathtaking & massive.  You cross over a stream at least 9 times, which adds a bit of fun to the trek.  While most of us managed to keep our shoes dry, Liam wasn't as lucky.  But I'm fairly certain he didn't mind the jumping & splashing and try to do it all by himself.  We did this hike at sunset, which made it particularly stunning.  The rocks are lit up by the sun that slowly drops. 

 Day 4 Morning: Mesa Arch & White Rim Overlook (Canyonlands)
Canyonlands was relatively unexciting.  Definitely worth a look & a drive if you have lots of time in the Moab area, but not a favorite by any means.  The Mesa Arch "hike" (1 mile round trip) was super busy.  Even a tour bus was there.  We took this opportunity to let Finn hike the whole thing, since he always wanted to hike.  The White Rim Overlook was 3 miles (I believe) and gave some stunning views.  Also some scary views due to massive drop offs!  If I were to go back to Canyonlands, I would want to check out the southern part of the park where there were slot canyons, but we didn't want to drive that far.

Day 4 Afternoon: Dead Horse Point (Dead Horse State Park)
We hit Dead Horse only because it is literally on the way back from Canyonlands.  There really isn't any hiking to be done here.  It's more of a stop, look, take picture, leave kind of place.  Not worth the effort at all.  It's the "grand canyon" of Utah, but again, not worth it.  I'm sure it's something special at sunset though; so if I were going to go, that would be the time.

 Day 5 Morning: Corona Arch (Moab)
Everyone's second favorite hike!  It's about 3 miles roundtrip, but it's a tad difficult.  There are safety cables at two separate spots to help you climb the slick rock, as well as a ladder.  Those little elements made the hike exciting, and it just so happens to be one of the most stunning arches. Liam handled the whole hike just fine!  I was constantly proud of his efforts & determination, such a good little hiker!  You really earn your view of this hike!

Day 5 Evening: Mill Creek Canyon (Moab)
Our third favorite hike!  Mill Creek is the local swimming hole, with beautiful waterfalls.  Also super slippery rocks that almost make the whole thing feel like a waterslide.  Why yes, I did fall in.  And yes, I had my camera on me.  But luckily, I somehow kept it inches above water before being able to hand it off to Conor!  But first the hike in... You have to cross the stream twice, and when I say cross, I mean that the water will be nearly up to your waist.  Fun, yet chilly; and obviously, the little ones needed to be carried over.  We packed in beers, champagne, and meats & cheeses to make a whole little evening of it.  And then of course, Conor had to start chatting it up with some guy who convinced him to climb up the waterfall and jump in.  In the one small spot that is actually deep enough for that kind of jump.  I did not approve, was getting somewhat angry, but he survived.  So yay for adventuring!

 Day 6: Delicate Arch (Arches)
This is the big one. The one arch that you always see in photographs.  And it is pretty spectacular!  But it's also super super busy, and the hike is relatively uneventful until the last few minutes.  Again we had to deal with a tour bus, which made us all a tad grumpy.  Lots of ledges & drop offs, so we had to keep the boys super close to us.  It was probably their least favorite hike for that exact reason.  Worth it for sure, but somewhat underwhelming; especially after all the other amazing things we had already seen!

Day 7: Windows & Double Arch (Arches)
We made these quick stops before leaving Moab on our last day.  There is no real hiking involved, mostly just a get out and walk around it type thing.  Super super busy & touristy.  The windows were relatively unexciting in my opinion.  Double Arch was actually a gorgeous, but it just doesn't have the same awe & beauty when you don't have to work for it.  It's one thing to have hiked for over an hour, and then come around a corner to some stunning sight.  It's quite different to just step out of your car and give a little "wow."  But again, totally worth the stop!

The trip as whole exceed all of our expectations. It was more beautiful & adventurous than we could have imagined.  And I must say, that I was so impressed with my parents.  They let me do much of the planning and were on board for it all.  We are keeping them young for sure.  They conquered the safety cables, stream crossings, & ladders just as swiftly as us.  They were helpful with both boys, who had to have been exhausting enough in themselves.  In between all the hiking was numerous book readings & bunny finding (so many little bunnies lived just outside our house).  Toy referee-ing & nose wiping.  Hand holding & scrape kissing.  Having my parents along made our trip that much more relaxing.  If I could always vacation with them, I would!  I'm already trying to convince them that we need to visit Jackson Hole next!

Another thing I wanted to mention is how doable this was with young kids.  I think they were at the perfect ages to enjoy this adventure.  Obviously Finn won't remember it, but that's not to say that he didn't love it.  The only difficult part about having him along, is that he did not want to ride in the pack.  At all.  We could often distract him, but for the most part he wanted to hike just like everyone else.  We often let him, but on our longer hikes we didn't have the time to go at such a slow pace.  He moved as quickly as his little legs could go, but he was also often distracted by things like rocks, sand, & ants.  He also desperately wanted to hold Liam's hand at all times, and while this was absolutely adorable for a day (and Liam was into it), he quickly realized how much Finn slowed him down.  So Liam grew tired of it, and Finn was devastated when Liam refused to walk with him.  Eventually he would accept Nana's hand as a consolation.

And Liam!  He was a hiking champ.  Very few complaints from him, and mostly they came on the last couple of days when his legs were legitimately tired and sore.  He hiked, he climbed, he guided the way.  The cairns often kept him busy and always wanting to be in front to spot the next one.  But one of the most amazing things about this boy was his true & honest appreciation for all the beauty.  He loved it.  He was in awe of the mountains, the rocks, the arches. He was always excited about what was to come next and never wanted our hikes to end.

By now, I'm sure you are all dying to come to Utah.  And you should.  And I could seriously talk Moab all day and go into far more detail.  So if/when you plan a trip, please shoot me an email.  I feel like I just barely skimmed the service of this trip!  Not to plan our next adventure!


  1. Wow!!! Those photos are absolutely amazing! I'd definitely come visit.

  2. Oh my word! What a fun adventure & to do this with your parents made it even more special!

  3. This looks like SO much fun!!!!!! Love it!

  4. WOW!!! So gorgeous! I seriously can't believe what a great hiker Liam is! Mason is pretty good at walking far distances but then always wants us to "carry me" and that would not fly on a 3 mile walk. You've got a little adventurer on your hands!

  5. This sounds wonderful! We had planned a little road trip that included arches (and a few other national parks) for our 5th anniversary. We had to significantly change our plans due to the government shut down that year! All national parks were closed. Luckily though you don't have to be in a national park to relax and enjoy the beauty

    1. I remember that! Well I suppose you will just have to come back to Utah. Although I will say all our favorite stuff was outside of the actual National Parks; you just had to know where to go!

  6. Laura! I LOVED this post. It's the perfect guide for anyone who wants to visit. And, this just intensifies my desire to get to Utah! I'm so bummed we weren't able to make it this year. But! I have high hopes for next year.

  7. Oh my gosh. I am saving this post because I HAVE to come do this exact same trip in a few years! By the way, I think we're coming to Park City this winter to ski - is that anywhere near you?! We've never been!

  8. This looks amazing and sounds like such a magical trip! Like you, I'm not all that into rocks, but I want to do these hikes! Your photos are gorgeous! I need a vacation with the kids asap!

  9. Omg the story of Conor jumping off the rocks is 1000% my husband. And your feelings about it is 1000% me.

  10. Definitely saved this! Sean and I visited Moab in 2008 but only had day there. I've always said we'll go back and this is the perfect guide! I'm seeing this for our family trip in 2018!

  11. Wow Laura. I was excited about this post because your IG photos were just stunning! I love that your parents were there too because I'm sure that added to the fun, and the help. So glad you've been able to get out and explore more of the place you've grown to love!

  12. Back when we had our Jeep Nate always wanted to visit Moab. Apparently there are some really great 4-wheeling trails there. Every time you posted a picture from Moab I was sure to show him. We’ve yet to make it to Utah, but maybe one day. Your pictures are absolutely stunning! And your parents sound like some of the best of the best!

  13. Looks like so much fun. Love the colors of Moab!!!

  14. WOW! Girl, this place looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  15. looks like a beautiful trip!! glad you got to get away with your parents, too :)

  16. This is absolutely one of the most beautiful vacations. You are making me want to go exploring in the mountains or desert for our next vacation [and all the ones after that]! I would love to get out as far as you all, but that might be a ways off. It is absolutely stunning.

  17. You guys impress me to no end! To take your young boys hiking and Liam actually walks the whole thing boggles my mind! Noah still asks me to bring the stroller to the mall in case he gets tired, which he always does! No wonder you guys are so fit! Beautiful photos as usual :)

  18. Thank you for sharing this amazing trip. Your family is truly inspiring! My son, just a few years ago, would have never accomplished all these hikes, but now that he's eight, we might be able to tempt him with some sort of reward--ice cream or chocolate. What beautiful pictures and memories. Plus, you look amazing! What an awesome, awesome post!

  19. I'll be honest, I never really had a desire to go to Utah/Moab, but this looks freakin' awesome. What a cool family vacation, obviously captured beautifully!! I'd say some of these shots are canvas-worthy, FOR SURE!!


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