Tag Archives: colorado

Utah #1: The Road to Arches

Why on earth do I live on the east coast?

This is the question I was asking myself as my sister and I made our way to Moab, Utah. From the moment we left Grand Junction, Colorado we could not stop gasping and squealing in awe. The west is magnificent. As we rolled along Interstate 70 and then the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway, we left our stress behind and simply enjoyed the view. Perhaps, we stopped too many times for pictures, but what is too many times?

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I made my sister take a picture of this truck.

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In a short while, we crossed over into Utah.

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A fellow traveler pointed out this burrowed owl. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be excited about this.

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I don’t know what this is, but I found it fascinating.

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The open road turned along the Colorado River.

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As Route 128 winds its way into Utah, it’s called the Upper Colorado Scenic Byway. With few other cars on the road, we had the luxury of taking silly shots like this one.

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And this one.

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The drive west took us deeper into canyon country, with gorgeous red cliffs rising around us. Sometimes I had to force myself not to stop or we’d never make it to Moab. 

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Next Trip: Arches Here I Come

It’s been a couple of crazy weeks in the day job. For a while there, my next trip hung in the balance, a casualty of the political calendar and court decisions. I kid you not. On the bright side, everything has ironed itself out, and my Memorial weekend plans are still a go.

My sister wanted to go to Iceland, but the stress of an international trip was overwhelming. So we settled on Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in southeast Utah. I have already been to Zion National Park in southwest Utah, but have always wanted to see the magnificent arches in the east. I also liked the idea of planning a trip around exercise, instead of coming back from vacation feeling like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

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Arches National Park

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Canyonlands National Park

Can you say AMAZING???

Grand Junction, Colorado is the closest airport to Arches National Park, but it can be quite pricey to fly in and out of. And those prices jump up around a holiday weekend. No surprise there. I managed to find a flight from Reagan National Airport to Grand Junction on United for only 12,500 points. This was a steal considering flights were three-hundred dollars-plus for one way.

On the way back, I decided to cash in my Citi Thank You Points which can be redeemed on American Airlines at 1.6 cents a piece. I found a $415 flight that cost me only 25,975 Citi points. Not only will I earn miles on this flight, I’ll collect four segments on my path to Gold status on American.

We plan on doing a bunch of hiking in Arches and Canyonlands, including the ranger-led Fiery Furnace hike. Fiery Furnace is a three-hour rock scramble through beautiful terrain in Arches National Park.  The ranger-led hikes through the unguided labyrinth is limited a small group of people per day. We booked our tickets months in advance, and our tour date is already sold out with three months to go!

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Some of the stunning rock formations we’ll get to see on the Fiery Furnace hike

There are no lodging options within Arches National Park. All lodging is located in the anchoring city of Moab. The choices are not overly exciting – a range of low-end, overpriced hotels. My sister and I both applied for the Marriott Chase credit card, now offering 80,000 points per card. We’ll use these points to book four nights at the Residence Inn in Moab.

It’s still three months away, but I’m so excited to go hiking out west again. As much as I love traveling to far-flung locations, a low-key, outdoor trip is exactly what I need after an intense political season.

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My excited dance, special for all the Pretty Little Liar fans out there

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