As we were planning our departure from the United States, we wanted to add in one final trip to check out some of the beauty that isn’t too far from Denver.
Here’s what we did each day and what we learned along the way:
Day 1 – Thursday, April 27th, 2017
We woke up early with all of our bags pre-packed and left the house at 7:00am sharp. Ok maybe it was more like 7:56am, but who’s counting anyways? Colorado is an absolutely beautiful state to drive through. We took our route west through I-70 which has a landscape that alters greatly from grasslands to pine tree forests and rocky mountain canyons. As we were approaching Glenwood Springs, about three hours into our drive, we decided to stop over for a mid-road trip hike at Hanging Lake Trail.
The trail is short in length, only about 1.2 miles to the lake, but over 1000 ft elevation gain. Hiking to the top without a break will definitely leave you short of breath. In typical Colorado fashion, we experienced all four seasons on our short two-hour hike. It started off warm and sunny, then about 10 minutes into the hike started snowing like crazy and finally cleared up by the time we arrived back at the car. Weird.
The waterfall is absolutely stunning, with a shimmering aqua lake at the base to top it off. This trail gets pretty packed on the weekends, so we’d definitely recommend going during a weekday if you can. We were there on a random Thursday and hardly saw anyone else on the trail. Definitely worth seeing!
After a hike like that, a tasty lunch is definitely the next order of business. We stopped at the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub for a homemade rice and bean veggie burger, sweet potato tots and a local amber ale. 5/5 stars!
Our road trip carried on until we arrived in Moab late in the afternoon. Since the sun was still a blazin’ we decided to stop over at Arches National Park and get a little hike in to stretch our legs. We found a parking spot, loaded up our packs and set out to find the trailhead. After hiking in circles around the back side of the Information Center a few times, a park ranger finally asked us, “uhh, can I help you?” Apparently, the trailhead was another 3 miles up the road. “OH YA WE KNEW THAT…WE’RE JUST ADMIRING YOUR TRASHCANS.”
As the sun was setting, we were able to squeeze in a short walk through one of the Arches paths before the park closed. The intense red rocks extending across a blue sky were like nothing I’d ever seen in my life.
Once the park closed, we drove the Rav4 into town to check into our AirBnb. As we pulled up to this old, broken down house, Caryn definitely had a few visual reservations. “Are you sure this place is going to be ok?”
“Yes, absolutely.” Although I wasn’t entirely sure at that point.
We walked up to the front door to find a small note taped to the door: Welcome, Andrew! Please come in. After following the written instructions through the front door, we meet an old man with messy white hair and stone gray buggish eyes. He looked like a mad scientist that just woken up from Stage 5 in his REM cycle. He introduced himself as John, the host of our AirBnb. After the first minute of our conversation, we knew this man was something special. We learned that he’s been in Moab, Utah for the past 35 years. He moved here when it was just a small mining town that the United States government used to mine Uranium. His home was built from local lumber, all handcrafted by John himself; a 35-year ongoing project. Not only did he build the house himself, he also built the chairs, the beds, the counters, the tables, the desks, the guitars. Every item was a personal creation of John from his woodshop that he clearly spent most hours of the day. As a Geology major in college, John had rocks and minerals sprinkled all throughout his home to play supporting roles in his hilarious tales of the past. He even had a life-sized replica dinosaur foot just chillin’ on his kitchen counter. This dude was for real.
Our room was upstairs and although there was no door (John had a policy that he never locked any door in his house anyways), it had the most gorgeous view of the canyon. We spent our first evening in Moab reading in bed and enjoying the wonderful view that John had provided us.
Day 2 – Friday, April 28th, 2017
So many hiking options in the Moab area. We woke up early and headed out to Canyonlands National Park. Caryn had us well prepared with a full cooler of vegan food so we were set for the day. Our first hike was on the Gooseberry Trail. Caryn had hiked and backpacked on this trail a few years ago and loved it so dearly, wanted to return again.
The hike was absolutely stunning. Unconventionally, this hike begins at the top of the canyon and you climb down an incredibly steep mountain to get to the bottom. It’s kind of like reverse hiking, where the way back to the car is the one that sucks the most. As we traversed down the canyon, we had to stop along the way to capture the pure beauty of these canyons. The small white rim you see in the pictures was our intended destination and although it looks thousands of miles away in the picture, it was only 3.5 miles total. And we made it.
After our hikes through the Canyonlands, we headed back in to town for our celebratory beer and fried pickles. Post hiking beers seems to be a real trend with us, I guess. All about that positive reinforcement! After beers, I sneakily convinced Caryn to walk across town the local Rock Shop. I had researched this Rock Shop on TripAdvisor and the reviews said things like, “I stop at every rock shop I see and this rock shop is the best rock shop I’ve ever stopped at.” So naturally, I was like, “WE HAVE TO GO.” And as you can see from the picture below, CARYN LOVED IT.
Overall we loved our trip! Moab is so close to Denver that we would definitely go back again. If you’re thinking of going, try to find a place that’s outside of downtown Moab. Unfortunately the town of Moab has become overly touristy with 4×4 tours on every corner. Find a place like John’s, on the edge of town, and spend your time out at the incredible National Park that the surrounding area has to offer.