Thursday, November 20, 2014

Five National Parks, Three Days

Warning: Picture Overload!
I LOVE road trips. Seriously, they're something I look forward to more than almost anything. It's so nice not to worry about going to the airport, facing delays, going through security, and just being able to pick a time and GO! This past week, after I came home from DC, my husband and I took a trip to Southern Utah to finally explore some of the beautiful National Parks down there! There are over 10 total in Utah, but the five most often referred to are Arches NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, and Zion NP. These five are collectively called the "Mighty Five," and this past weekend, we were able to see three of them!

When my husband first talked about all the National Parks (and Monuments, Recreation Areas, etc.) he wanted to see, I first thought it was impossible to get to all 400+ of them. However, it's now become one of the biggest dreams of mine! It's going to take a lot of work and dedication, but we're going to see as many as we can, and then hopefully the ones we don't have a chance to travel to before, we can road trip to together when we're old and retired. :) I didn't grow up traveling to many of them like he did, but I've fallen in love with that moment when you first drive into a National Park and see the gorgeous landscapes or when you read facts about it that connect with things you learned in school, yet you see it in action (or recreation). I still want to travel overseas, but there is also so much beauty to see in the United States. Being the history lovers we are, they are the perfect sites for vacations and road trips for the two of us, and I look forward to seeing them every time we travel to a new place. We're going to a couple different states for weddings in the upcoming year, and you can bet we will try to see a National Park or two on our way!

The first park we visited was Arches National Park in Moab, UT. This park consisted of over 2,000 arches! I told Randy that I really wanted to find them all, and he just laughed at me. I don't think I even found 100, haha, but they were all different sizes and shapes. So neat to see! My favorite was Delicate Arch, which is the most photographed and popular arch in the world. I can see why! It was a couple miles of strenuous hiking to get to it, but it was absolutely well worth it.

North Arch

North & South Arches
Double Arch!
Delicate Arch

We also had the chance to hike to Corona Arch, which is not part of the National Park system, so they allow dogs to hike, as well. It was amazing! Ever heard of someone rope swinging from a 150-ft tall arch? This is where they do it. It's pretty incredible!

Another park in Moab is Canyonlands National Park. The views were absolutely incredible. They had an arch called Musselman Arch that you have to drive down a verrrryyy curvy road within the canyon (a little terrifying to see the drop offs, too) to arrive at. This arch was one of my favorites! I walked out on it, and though my husband was a little nervous, the pictures are pretty cool. Canyonlands has four different districts that are spread far and wide apart (takes 2-6 hours to travel between any two). We were able to visit a couple of them and hope to get to them all one day.

My favorite pic that he took!

Randy was a little nervous about this one... :)

Randy made me drive this road. It was a little terrifying since the drop-off was huge, but it was also so cool! The total drive is 100 miles, but it would take you 12-13 hours to drive it safely!

Natural Bridges is comprised of none other than naturalbridgesobviously. Different than arches in that these landmarks actually bridge a body of water. By the time we had made it to Natural Bridges NM, we had already hiked well over 12 miles in the two days (which we absolutely loved), but we were a little weary to hike all the way to each of the bridges. So we opted for view points instead and hope to actually hike to them next time! They were quite the strenuous hikes with large changes in elevation, so next time. Next time. :)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was also a stop on our tour. It's a huge area of land that spreads from Arizona to southern Utah. The area is so different from what we see daily in our stretch of Utah. Yes, there are still mountains, but most of it is red rock, and there are huge cliffs everywhere encircling you as you drive through the canyon. It's just beautiful!

The last national park we made it to was Capitol Reef NP. I, for one, had no idea why it was named that. But, I learned that it was because that entire area had once been under water. Pretty cool, huh? What once was a giant sea is now these incredible landmarks. The park encompassed a small town that used to have a one-room schoolhouse and a few houses but got wiped out with a huge flood and was now desolate. It was soo cool to read the history behind the people who used to live there and see how they lived. There are still orchards that you can pick from during the year (we missed that, obviously, with it being almost winter. :))

I loved all of the petroglyphs we found at the parks, especially this one! Look closely, and try to figure out what they mean! Nobody is for sure what all of the symbols and pictures truly represent!

It was such a beautiful, amazing visit, and I just wish we had more time! All of the National Parks have so much to offer. You may see them all, but you can never truly see all there is to offer in all of them. The trails to hike, the videos to see, the activities, the drives, etc., all offer a unique way of looking at the piece of history that is being represented. :)

Sorry for the picture overload! Trust me, there are many, many more. I just couldn't pick! ;)

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Much Love!

Much Love!