We were excited to start day 9 by showing the kids some areas we had visited before as well as exploring some new discoveries. After grabbing a quick hotel breakfast, we headed back out to Arches National Park to see some sights before the rest of the tourists showed up.
The biggest tip I can give for visiting Arches or any National Park is to go early. Drag yourself out of bed at sunrise or before and it will be so very worth it. You will escape the crowds and long enrance lines as well as enjoy the beautiful early morning “golden hour” of ideal photography light.
The kids were having a bit of a rough go this morning wandering the park. I suppose it was just a bit too much traveling for them as I wound up carrying them off and on as we went through the trails
Our next stop was the Devil’s Garden trailhead. We had considering hiking to Landscape Arch (which we have visited before) but the kids were really dragging at this point so we turned around at Pine Tree Arch. Pine Tree makes a nice photo stop.
However, the kids perked right up when we started talking about the sand boxes we were going to see again on the next trail.
One of the best “sand boxes” in the park is found at appropriately named, Sand Dune Arch. This easy and family friendly trail is short but packs in some interesting scenery along the way to the arch.
After knocking the sand off the kids, we loaded back up to head into town for a bit. We had never stopped at the Moab rock shop before but it looked like a fun little tourist stop to check out. It turned out to be quite the small town find. This little shop is bursting with an amazing array of rocks and fossils. Most of the prices are less than $3 (even as low as 10 rocks for a $1!) so it’s a great place for kids to wander and pick out a fun souvenir.
After a quick lunch stop, we headed back out north on highway 191 to check out some dinosaur tracks and an old stage stop.
The Moab area is brimming with dinosaur track and fossil sites. This particular track site is the Mill Canyon interpretive site. It’s located on a well graded gravel road off Highway 191. A short walk leads to a boardwalk area and interperetive panels explaining which dinosaurs left which footprints behind.
Not far from the track site is the ruins of the Halfway Stage Stop. This was a resting spot for travelers between Moab and the railroad station at Thompson. The journey between the sites took 8 hours back in the 1880s.
After boring the kids with all the history they could take, we headed off to find the nearby Tusher Tunnel. Something neither of us had seen before and was complete worth the trip to go see! Tusher Tunnel is a short and easy trail to drive and a popular one in the area. The tunnels formed the same way that the arches in the area have. However, there is a large amount of of these smaller tunnels gathered in a honey comb pattern in the area. It took a little climbing and poking around to find the tunnel that passes all the way through the rock.
When you find the right spot, you will know it. The tunnel is long, but you can see the light at the end.
The other side is this awesome Valley
After some fun exploring the tunnel, we loaded back into the Merc. An unscheduled, but very necessary, bio break saw the Mercury playing Baja Racer on the road back to the restroom at the Dino Tracks. Once natures call was sorted, we wandered along a portion of the 3D Jeep trail before heading back to town.
Back in town we ate dinner at Moab Brewery. They had a large menu of very good food and delicious root beer to enjoy while the kids entertained themselves looking at all the interesting and random things hanging from the ceiling.
With our bellies full of yummy food, we managed to sneak in one last hike for the day heading out to Grandstaff Canyon. (Formerly named Negro Bill Canyon.) The entire trail is a 5 mile out and back to Morning Glory Arch. However, with daylight fading and two tired kids we just did about a mile or so in and then turned around.
Even without making it to the arch, the hike through the canyon is scenic as it follows a lush stream. The kids of course never pass up a chance at throwing rocks into a body of water.
We ended our day with the vacation required ice cream stop in downtown Moab.