The way to Arches


My wife and daughter went to Europe last week, so I decided it was time to take a road trip to Arches National Park where I could do some dry camping It’s one of my favorite spots on Earth and I’ve visited it all too rarely recently, so I decided I was due for a visit. I already had a tent, sleeping bag, propane stove and camping cookware, but having done wilderness camping before I was aware of the importance of being able to navigate. I looked online for a watch compass and found a website with a rather large selection.


The drive from Denver is about 6 hours long and passes through some spectacular scenery and old mining camps. I used to go metal detecting in some of those towns, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that anymore as more and more of them have been blocked off. It is an interesting trip nonetheless. The mining towns are among the first points of interest as you pass through the countryside. First Idaho springs, then past a side road that leads to Central City and Blackhawk, then past Empire and Georgetown. 


It’s a good ride through the mountains, and can get pretty twisty. Sometimes I’ll hop off for a bit of adventure down an old dirt mining road. The last time I did that, one of the plastic tumblers my drink was in nearly flew right out of the cup holder, so be forewarned, those old roads can get rough.


Vail comes up about an hour and a half into the trip and maybe an hour after that you pass the road to Aspen One of my favorite stops along the way is Glenwood springs, a beautiful old town with terrific hot springs and a number of nice oldish hotels from the mid 20th century and older. The road to Glenwood springs passes through a gorgeous canyon called Whitewater canyon. You drive on the northern side of the Colorado river and on the southern side is a railroad, really not to be missed.


Once you get through Glenwood Springs you have long stetch of lonely highway until you hit Grand Junction, then it’s just a short ride into Utah. I always take the scenic route along Utah 128. Blood red buttes and mesas predominate as you pass through Castle Valley which is a canyon along the Colorado river. This is probably my favorite part of the entire journey, and truly not to be missed.