When we first visited Utah back in November, we only had time to scoot across the top of the state. This time around, we were about to embark on a month-long stay filled with national parks and boondocking for days. Little did we know, the first boondocking spot would be one for the ages.
We had an idea going into Valley of the Gods that it would be beautiful, but I don’t think we fully grasped just how stunning it would be. The dominant red cliffs were a stark contrast to the blue sky, and the expansive valley that unfolded before us seemed to highlight the immenseness of the rocks. We may have cracked a few teeth on the drive in, but it was worth it. All of it.
Boondocking was plentiful at Valley of the Gods, so we drove along until we noticed a short path to the left. At the end was the most perfect spot, with a view of Monument Valley in the distance. We had space for days, sunny skies, and all was right in the world….
Until we learned the one thing that proved to NOT be plentiful at VOTG: internet. While we were able to pull down some signal, it wasn’t enough for what we needed for the work week. At the time, I was teaching English as a second language to students on the other side of the world, so some serious video capabilities were required. In total, I think we hiked about 3 miles around the area just looking for a spot with better reception. This was to no avail. On Sunday, we tried moving the RV to another spot in the valley that was supposed to have better internet. But alas, no luck. It was like taking a dagger to the heart: having this incredible, and I truly mean incredible, spot ready for the taking, but then just needing a tiny bit more to be able to stay. So we unwillingly/begrudgingly/angrily/literally-ever-upset-word-you-can-think-of packed up the RV and started to make our way towards Moab.
Luckily, we were able to find some convenient boondocking just south of Moab at Yellow Circle Road. It wasn’t the prettiest- just off the highway, not much privacy, busy- but it would do in a pinch. We honestly didn’t hate it, but we were so devastated about leaving Valley of the Gods that it almost made the bad, worse.
On a positive note, we knew we had something to look forward to that weekend. Arches National Park was set to be the first of many national parks we would visit in Utah, and it didn’t disappoint. There’s a LOT of free camping available along Hwy 191 just north of the entrance to Arches, so we spent the night street-side and woke up before the sun to start our hike early.
Really, we started early because crowds at Arches from March to October are pretty insane, with the majority of people choosing to come in the spring. We didn’t feel like battling it out on the trail or in the parking lots, so we parked early and began the short-yet-challenging trek to Delicate Arch as the sun rose.
By the time we started to make our way back from the arch, it was instantly obvious how busy this park gets. The trail became more packed with each step closer to the start, and the once-desolate parking lot was now packed, complete with people waiting to swipe your spot.
We proceeded to enjoy breakfast amidst the craziness, and watched a park ranger reprimand a tour bus for not having the right permits to visit. From there, we hiked around Devils Garden and took in a few more arches before succumbing to the crowds and giving up.
Note to self: visit in the off-season, next time.
Ironically, Arches was like the gateway into our weekends of national parks. It was just the beginning, and Utah was quickly proving to be one of the most beautiful states we’ve seen yet.