Sleep-deprived and feeling claustrophobic I woke Friday morning and saw the rain. Dread set in. I looked over and saw Dave, who was ready to ride. He noticed the rain too, and quickly fell into a feverish (for dramatic effect) text exchange. He popped his head up away from his phone to say, “There is too much snow up high. The shuttle called. The ride is canceled.” He made another phone call and then asked, “Kyle, the guys are eating breakfast in town. Want to go?”
“Sure.” Kyle said.
I assumed the bike group would go on another ride. This is Utah. Rain is light, and quickly dries. The phone rang. It was Dave. “The rain isn’t stopping. Want to go on a hike?”
“Sure.” I said.
We gathered our things, checked out of our hotel, met the bike guys in the lobby, and were on our way.
So Friday afternoon the boys, Dave and I found ourselves back in Moab hiking to Corona Arch in the cold Spring rain. Because their Porcupine Rim shuttle had been canceled, we were joined by Dave’s San Francisco-based mountain bike group. Instead of biking one of the most epic rides known to man, these San Francisco dudes found themselves hiking the 1.5 mile round trip Corona Arch hike with their biking companion, his surprisingly fit wife [wink, wink], and their two spastic teenage sons — an epic adventure indeed.
Corona Arch is not located in the National Park, which means the hike is free. It is easy to get to, and is located not quite two miles off of Utah 279. And really you get two for the price of one because adjacent to Corona Arch is Bow Tie Arch, or what Dave likes to call, “God’s Toilet Bowl.” You will get it when you are standing underneath the big, cavernous hole. It is a great hike for all ages, and our boys have been hiking it since the time we hiked them up to the arch in a jogging stroller. True story. We hiked them up to Delicate Arch the same way, by the way. When we go to Moab and don’t make it to Corona I feel like I am missing something – always.
“I have never hiked to Corona Arch in the rain,” I happily exclaimed, as I looked around to a Southwestern desert exploding into an oversaturated, misty, speckled sage and slippery looking red rock wonderland. The terrain was new to these San Francisco-based lowlanders, and I felt their awe as we headed up the cairn-marked path. “This hike never gets old.” I blurted.
The cold rain and new company only made it better. We promised the men they would not slip on the wet slick rock when one by one they asked if they would. “I know. It looks slippery. And even though I know, I think I will slip too. Trust us. You will not slip.” No one did. We rounded corners, climbed a metal ladder attached into the rock, and as we climbed up and the rock curved round. In the distance, there it was. No. It never gets old. Beautiful, massive, lonely Corona Arch pushing itself out of the Entrada sandstone.
Now standing under the arch, the rain was coming down hard. My dry-down jacket was soaked through. I thought if I stood directly under the arch somehow I would be protected. I wasn’t. After talking to some other hikers, we found our way to a patch of dry under an overhang. As I shivered, I thought survival advice I have heard. You know the advice. Get naked and huddle. No way. Sure, my fingers were turning blue, but I was not that cold, at least, not yet. Instead I took my bright purple dry down jacket off and snuggled up close to Dave. We all talked San Francisco. The bike dudes talked about the girl they were flirting with at a local bike shop – of course. We ate a Powerbar, drank some water, and were on our way.
Kyle, Eli and I somehow got ahead of the men. We rounded the corners, climbed back down the ladder. Eli and I waited for them in a little cave while Kyle added rocks to the sea of cairns. The men caught up, only for us to lose them again. A stream had formed in the minutes since we last crossed its path. The boys skipped rocks while we waited again. The red rock desert anytime, and this day, in the rain, I promise, it never gets old.
To be continued.
Corona Arch Hiking Trail
Though Moab is swamped with tourists during the busy summer months, it is much better to visit in the spring and fall, spring rains notwithstanding. Even the middle of the winter is a good time, since the days are cold and crisp but bright and dry.
There are two national parks in the Moab area: Arches and Canyonlands. Arches is much closer and more accessible, with natural wonders just a short walk from the road. As always, the more you get out of your park and walk around, the better your experience will be. Canyonlands is divided into three districts. Island in the Sky is the closest to Moab, and has some great hikes. The most striking of the three districts is probably Needles, to the south of Moab, but most of its wonders require longer hikes into the backcountry. The most remote district is The Maze, which lies on the other side of the Colorado and Green rivers, a long drive from Moab.
Close to Island in the Sky is Dead Horse Point State Park, home to one of the most striking views in all of the United States. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Moab, and worth visiting, especially if you’re not a hiker, since the view is only a short walk from the parking lot.
Moab’s true claim to fame is it’s world-class mountain biking. Even if you’re not a hardcore biker, you might want to consider renting a bike or signing up for a tour with one of the many local outfitters. One of Moab’s dozen or so bike shops will set you up with a bike and recommend a trail to match your skill level. The other major local pastime is “rock crawling” or exploring the local trails and sandstone hills in a tricked out jeep. We wouldn’t recommend taking your rental SUV on most of the trails, but you can easily book a tour with a local company that will drive you around in a Jeep or even a Hummer.
Another favorite Moab Hike: Negro Bill Canyon Trail. It is two miles each way to Morning Glory Bridge. Like of the desert hikes, make sure to wear sunscreen. Bring and drink lots of water. Be sure to make it to the bridge. It is totally worth it!
PS. We realize that our Moab Tips merely scratch the surface of all the Moab, Arches and the Canyonlands areas have to offer. Enjoy!