Today’s post is a part of my Saturday Snapshots series. I’m chatting a bit about a cross country RV road trip we took last summer. We stopped in Moab, Arches, Zions & Bryce Canyon.
I’m starting with Moab & Arches. Next, I’ll share a bit about Zions & Bryce. If you’re new here, Saturday Snapshots are posts that are more personal in nature. I share about our family adventures, things we are doing and sometimes just regular “ordinary” life stuff.
About Our Cross Country RV Road Trip
Last summer our family took a cross country road trip in our RV. I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that we are RV owners (as of Jan. 2016) and promised that I’d keep you guys up to date on how we like our RV, and how our experience is going in general. (Before I start I should say that we bought our RV and did not receive any type of incentive from the dealer or manufacturer when we did due to my job).
When we bought our RV we did so in part because we had a dream to take the “Great American Road Trip”. Personally, I love road trips, as much as I love to travel, most of the time I’d pick a day in the car over a long day at the airport.
I grew up in Utah and visited the National Parks on a regular basis growing up. Even though we still have family in Utah and visit often, we had not taken the time to take our kids to the National Parks during any of our visits. It seemed like there was always something “else” going on.
The realization that I only had 2 more summers before my youngest kids left for college was also starting to sink in (insert PANIC here). Given this, last summer we went ahead and planned a 2017 road trip with the intention of visiting the National Parks in Southern Utah.
A Few RV Tips:
Good RV Spots Fill Up Fast:
One thing that we have learned having our RV is that the good spots go fast. That is part of why we planned our trip a year in advance. Many spots fill up that early, especially in popular places or at the “good” RV parks.
We kinda had the idea of a “pick up and go” weekend lifestyle when we bought our RV, and have since realized that’s not really the reality of how it works. You have to plan ahead.
There seems to be a shortage of good quality family friendly RV parks in the US. Granted, you can camp in an RV (not hooked up to water or electricity) but you do have to make sure you’re in an area where you have permission to be overnight.
Be Prepared for Something to Break:
The other thing we have realized is that RV’s are prone to breaking. So far it hasn’t been the “big” things but little annoying things. Like the stereo system in the back and the propane hookup for the fridge and the navigation system.
It seems like we are always fixing something. Thankfully my husband is good at fixing things, and YouTube has been a lifesaver. From what I’ve read this is normal for the industry.
In July our A/C went out, and we also found out that there are also not enough RV service centers in the US, and are currently on a “waiting list” to get it fixed (insert eye roll emoji).
RV’ing is Fun but it’s not without it’s Challenges:
I just wanted to throw those two things out there before I continue so you don’t get an over-romanticized view of the RV lifestyle as I chat about our trip.
Even given the drawbacks, I loved our RV trip. I loved having a bathroom with us all the time (no searching for a clean restroom in the middle of nowhere). I loved that packing was a breeze since you’re pretty much driving a giant suitcase. And I love that we always had our own bed and our own sheets.
It’s really nice to have a bit more room to spread out on a 14 hr drive as well. No more worrying if there is a spot to eat in a busy roadside restaurant, you can either pack your own lunch or just buy your food and eat in the RV.
I’ll be honest, a week before our road trip my husband and I seriously considered canceling it. There was SO much going on and we were going to be out-of-town for 3 weeks.
Any of you that work for yourself know that 3 weeks is a lifetime to be away from your job. I was growing increasingly worried about the deluge of work I’d have facing me when I got home. In the end, we decided to go, and I am very glad that we did. Yes, I had a deluge of work waiting for me (I’m still catching up), but who knows how much I would have accomplished if I had just stayed home for those 3 weeks.
If you follow me on Instagram then you may know that we took that road trip at the end of June. We took off from Kentucky, drove to Kansas (stayed in Topeka over night) then to Colorado. We spent the night in Dillon before heading to meet my family in Moab.
(as you can see the dog loved the mountain views in Dillon)
In Moab, we met up with my parents and my oldest daughter (who attends college in Utah). My parents stayed at a hotel, and my family and I stayed at a local RV park. So there were 5 bodies and our dog in a 25 ft RV for a week.. Luckily we all survived *wink*.
We planned our trip mid-June hoping that we’d beat the heat wave that usually hits Southern Utah in July, but somehow managed to show up in Moab at the height of a heat wave. Highs were in the 100’s each day we were there. The coolest it got was 85 and that was in the middle of the night, and I hesitate to use the word “cool” when describing the weather that week.
(the sign said “please enjoy climbing on the rocks” so we did)
Our plan for Moab was to spend a day hiking, and another day driving around viewing the local area (and visiting some other canyons). My parents kept our dog while we hiked since they are not allowed on the trails in the National Parks.
To be honest, I’m glad we left him with them, it was so hot and the trails were so crowded that I think adding dogs to the mix would have turned it all into chaos.
Hiking in Arches National Park:
I will tell you right now, I am not naturally athletic. I have never been, I’m terrible at sports even though I have tried very hard not to be. I’ve tried all the sports (golf, tennis, running, basketball, softball… I could go on), I’m bad at all of them.
I do love being outdoors and I try to work out regularly. However, I also suffer from Sjogren’s disease which causes extreme dryness and joint problems. Which made the DRY 100+ degree heat hard on me, and my joints usually get swollen and sore with strenuous activity. Naturally, I decided it would be a good idea to hike up a mountain in the desert *wink*.
We decided to hike Delicate Arch at Arches National Park. We had intended to do another hike after that, but the heat was too much by midday. It turns out, we were on the trail to the arch by 7 am and it was already hot (almost 100 degrees).
The hike to Delicate Arch:
To be honest, to me, the hike was “harder than advertised”. Most of it was not bad, but there is one section that was straight up on slick rock with NO SHADE. I was nervous about keeping up with everyone but refused to be the only one in my family not to hike that day and decided to give it a shot.
I was the slowest of the group, and felt bad for holding everyone up. About half way up I almost turned back and told them to meet me at the bottom, but decided that I’d already come that far, I might as well finish. I’m so glad I finished, I realized soon after I wanted to turn back that I’d made it though the hard part (insert some sort of “life lesson” here).
My son LOVED every second of the hike and would have kept going if we let him. My youngest daughter and husband loved it too. However, the oldest daughter said she doesn’t understand the “point” of hiking – lots of work to look at something for a few minutes, then turn back around.
We managed to finish the hike. I was proud that I didn’t freak out too much watching my kids walk close to the ledge on the trials. I do have to say that I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment that I made it to the top and didn’t turn back.
A few weeks after this hike we read “Into Thin Air” together (my son needed to read it for school, so listened to the audiobook together on the way home). As we were listening we joked that we had no idea why anyone would ON purpose hike up to Mt. Everest as we could barely handle a very minor mountain in southern Utah!
A few other things to do in Moab:
The rest of the time in Moab we spend exploring the downtown area (which I was pleasantly surprised by, it was so charming) and driving around the banks of the river.
Our plan for the next few days (we spent a week total in Southern Utah) was to head to Zions and spend 3 days there and head back and spend some time with my parents before driving back to Kentucky. Since this post already has a zillion photos and lots of words, I think I’ll save that part of the trip for next week!
Before I go I thought I’d share a few of our tips for visiting Moab/Arches. I’m sure there are others that know a lot more than we do, but these are some of the things we learned.
8 Tips for Visiting Moab & Arches National Park:
1- Traffic can be crazy, you’ll be best served by getting on the trails at dawn (or as early as they will let you in the park, they are working on the roads in Arches).
2- If you’re there in the summer, plan for intense heat and adjust your itinerary as necessary.
3- Moab is a fun city with a lot to do. Plan on spending time in the evening strolling the main streets, and eating out if your budget allows.
4- You want to stay at an RV park that is close to Arches, which is BEFORE Moab. We stayed further outside of Moab (on the other side) and I wish we had stayed closer to the park.
5- It’s not a race to see who can get to the top of the mountain first. I know that sounds like a joke, but it’s easy to get caught in the “hurry up” mentality when the trails are so crowded. It’s ok to walk slower than others. The point is to enjoy the hike, not rush to beat everyone to the top.
6- Plan for crowds and pack your patience.
7- Check the National Parks website before you go, they have tips, maps and a lot of information about the various hikes and trails.
8- WATER. Pack lots of it. We all had our own camelback pack, you need more than just a bottle of water if you’re going to take a hike.