We overnighted in the backcountry of Arches National Park, Utah in early April 2012. It was our first stop on a week-long trip that included the Grand Canyon, the Four Corners, and Mesa Verde. Getting a permit was easy–unlike the Grand Canyon, for which we had to order a backcountry permit 6 months in advance, we just walked into the visitor’s center on arrival and picked up a free permit.
By requiring permits, the rangers know how many people are staying in a particular area of the park so it doesn’t get too crowded/over-used and in case of emergency they have a general idea where you can be found (we had to show which trailhead we were going to start hiking from). The ranger said she might hike out to see us (scare tactic… or was she being friendly?), but from the moment we started walking away from the road we were completely and awesomely alone. We scaled boulders, rock-hopped, blazed our own trail, and star gazed into a pure black sky… and that’s after touring the famous rock arches.
Want to plan your own Arches adventure?
– Cost: Park entrance fee (Tip–get a National Parks Pass! It’s only $80 for a year and gets you into any national park–this road trip alone paid for ours)
– Precautions: (mainly if you’re camping in the backcountry)
- Be ready to carry all the water you’ll need with you. We had zero water access in our area of backcountry.
- Don’t expect a trail. We followed a dry stream bed for much of the way, but had to keep an eye on direction and topography.
- Consider the season carefully. Flashfloods, lightning storms, and extreme heat are all valid concerns. April was great because the weather was moderate and crowds were minimal.
– When We Go Again: We’re not going to miss the Fiery Furnace Tour! They were all booked when we went, so plan ahead. ($10 per person as of 2/2013) Check it out!
– Visit the Arches National Park site (where we got all our planning info)