Have you ever arrived at a vacation destination to find it an immediate disappointment, or near one? Before the trip your excitement built up and upon arrival something put a puncture in the balloon of enthusiasm? That happened to my husband and me upon arrival in Utah for my husband’s 40th birthday vacation gift. Luckily, however, the puncture in that balloon was quickly repaired and the excitement built back up again quickly because of a very quick change in itinerary.
I believe it was March of 2004. I bought two tickets to Utah so that my hubby could go skiing at the wonderful Park City area ski resorts, sites of the Winter Olympics in 2002. I’m not a skier, but my hubby, a European, has always been enthusiastic about the sport. After hubby and I arrived, a hassle at the airport car rental agency, and then at the first hotel, left a bad taste in our mouths. But driving towards Park City was wonderful, with amazing scenery. Park City was a lovely town, too. Some of the slopes could be accessed straight from town. This would seem like a skier’s dream, but the sad part was that it was to be 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) for the whole week.
Hubby tried to make the most of the skiing despite the unseasonably warm weather. He skied wearing just a light jacket. The snow quality was predictably poor given the temperatures, but he loved the views. On the third day we went to Deer Valley ski resort, which again was a beautiful resort. Though he is an excellent skier, I bought him lessons to try mogul skiing, something he had never done. I watched him while sitting at an outside café with no jacket on, in the sun.
The skiing plan turned out disappointing despite the area’s beauty. Hubby and I decided we needed to change the itinerary on the spot. Hubby had been studying the Utah map and discovered some pretty cool sounding parks in the south. Before we knew it, we hit the road heading towards them, with the windows open. Our first stop would be Arches National Park. Honestly, we’re lucky we made it there when we did. It was a long drive, and hubby neglected to get gas in the car when he had a chance. He didn’t want to worry me, but the empty gas tank light had been on for quite a while. I finally noticed it and panicked. Luckily we were driving mostly downhill. Thank goodness we found a gas station in the nick of time.
As we entered Arches National Park, we were immediately in awe. Look at the pictures below, and you’ll understand why.
Hubby turned into an excited kid in this place, and I felt the same. We got adventurous and took several hikes near the unique arches and other rock structures. Talk about a photogenic place! And many times we were all alone. It was completely quiet. No birds, no wind, no voices.
Towards the end of the park, hubby discovered a dirt road that would be a short cut to the highway we wanted to reach in the south. There was a warning sign at the start of the drive saying something like “Four wheel drive vehicles only. Rough terrain. Drive at your own risk.” Well that thrilled hubby even more. I must say that I was a bit scared, wondering what we would do if we got stuck there or ran out of gas. There would be few people coming down that route. Fortunately we made it, and the SUV managed well. Hubby had a blast. I kind of did, too.
We found a cheap motel that night, in the town of Moab. We were tired, but wanted to get up at dawn to see nearby Dead Horse Point State Park. The following two photos show what we saw at that time.
Our next stop was nearby Canyon Lands National Park. As you can see, the views are a bit different than Arches National Park, but almost equally stunning.
There are so many other wonderful places to visit in Utah and beyond, but unfortunately we didn’t have that long of a time. I had originally only figured on less than a week for skiing. We had to return to Salt Lake City for our flight home. Though short, our trip ended up being way more than we expected. My husband loved southern Utah so much that he returned twice more within about five years. He took his sister and nephew there and beyond, and then his best friend from Czech Republic. He and his friend even had the opportunity to tent in a park.