We started out this trip with one last awesome breakfast at the Avon Cafe before bidding a tearful goodbye to my folks as this was the point where we parted ways for awhile. The kids were not happy about this separation from their beloved Nana and Papa. But we made it up to them by telling them that we were headed to a giant sandbox. That “sandbox” being the great state of Utah.
We planned a short detour off I-70 to visit Rifle Falls State Park and break up the drive a bit. The highlight of the park is a stunning, 80 foot triple waterfall. This extremely scenic park is also incredibly tiny. From what we have read, it tends to be insanely busy during the peak parts of the year and with only a small parking area can cause back ups as people vie for a coveted spot. Even though we arrived “off Season” every campsite was accounted for. Luckily, the day use parking areas were pretty empty this particular morning. If you visit, I would definitely recommend arriving as soon as the park opens for the day if possible.
This is a great park for kids or someone with limited mobility as the main trail to the falls is flat, easy, and short. You can hear the falls almost as soon as you start the hike.
A little further up the trail, past the stone stage, there is a short loop trail that takes you next to some cool kid sized caverns. The kids and I had fun exploring the depths of a few of them.
After wrapping up our fun at Rifle Falls, we back tracked to head towards Gateway, Colorado to take the Hey Joe Canyon Road to Castle Valley Road that would take us to Moab via dirt.
If you aren’t in a hurry, this is a very scenic route to follow between Colorado and Utah.
After driving for a bit, and passing a few RZR’s, we came to the CO/UT border and let the kids out for a wiggle
As we continued on the rock road, the views started to become more rugged, and we even found a few animal friends checking us out.
Returning to pavement showed the reason for the name of this road. That is all the rock formations on the side that look distinctly like castles
Arriving in Moab, we were greated with an unexpected site of lots of Police, fire trucks, and other civil service vehicles blocking the road and keeping us from going to our hotel. It turns out that our arrival in town was perfectly timed with the local Homecoming parade. Feeling a bit road weary, we opted out of the festivities and grabbed an early dinner at our favorite dining spot, Milts Stop and Eat on the edge of town. The kids enjoyed some food, and we enjoyed relaxing for a moment. We had waited 7 years to eat some Milt’s again.
After stuffing our faces with Milt’s burgers, we made a quick stop to check into our hotel. With daylight wasting, we decided to load back up and head into Arches National Park.
We decided to burn off some kid energy by walking part of the Park Avenue hike, which is probably one of my favorite hikes in the area. It’s an easy one mile out and back that follows a rugged and scenic valley of rock “skyscrapers.”
And of course we made good on our promise. The kids were very excited to have their own “Sand Box”. A reoccurring theme would be both kids jumping into whatever loose sand they could find every time they got out of the truck.
After our brief visit to the Park Ave trail, we headed over to the Windows area of the park to goof off a bit more and grab some sunset photos. The North and South Windows and Turret Arch trail is another easy one in the park. A primitive trail circles around behind the arches if you want to get away from the crowds for a bit.
After the sunset, we dragged our travel weary selves back to the hotel to for a good nights sleep. I am amazed at how drastically Moab has changed just since our last trip out this way in 2012. It sadly no longer has that “small town” feel that it used to, and I’m sure it’s even more crowded in peak season.