Our MOAB Brands loop
Although we loved Bryce Canyon National Park, Red Canyon and Kodachrome Basin State Park, we were ready to move on from Panguitch, hitting the road at 6:45 a.m. Friday morning. It's over 250 miles from Panguitch to Moab and we didn't want to spend all day driving. It was actually a very nice drive across a portion of I-70 that we hadn't done before, crossing the San Rafael Swell (yet another place that's on our list to explore, along with Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument).
We arrived in Moab and got our wheels in the dirt at the MOAB Brand Trails (after H gallantly fixed my mysteriously flat front tire) at 11:20. We did two circuits of our usual loop: Rusty Spur and the Bar M loop. Yes, we know that these are pretty easy trails to ride by Moab standards. But the loop we've put together consists of good cross-country terrain, with a little climbing, some good flow and a nice mixture of dirt, gravel, sand and slickrock. I can ride the whole way around without any hike-a-bike and was really riding pretty well that day. And although the parking lot was fairly busy, we saw hardly anyone out there on the trails, making it extra fun.
There always seem to be clouds over the La Sals
After post-ride beers, we went to Arches National Park, stopping first by the visitors' center in hopes that we might be able to score some Fiery Furnace hike tickets. We were disappointed to see a sign that all the Fiery Furnace hikes were full until Tuesday ... until the woman in front of us turned around, saying that she had four tickets to the Sunday hike and would we be interested in any of them? We sure would and, after navigating the park's purchase system, we walked away with two of them.
At the top of Park Avenue
We also walked the Park Avenue trail, one of the few remaining Arches NP hikes we have not yet done. This is a short hike (just under 2 miles) out and back along a wash under huge red rock walls. It was fairly warm at this point in the afternoon and we started at the bottom so that we would have a downhill finish. The formations loom large overhead and this little hike is a good one for students of geology since the rock layers are distinct and easy to discern.
Having checked Park Avenue off our list, we headed into town and checked into the Kokopelli Lodge. We showered and then walked down to the very busy Moab Brewery for beers and an early dinner (chile verde burrito and an enormous spinach salad with blackened tilapia). As we walked back to the motel after dinner, we appreciated being back in a small town with energy and options - poor little Panguitch has nothing on Moab.
Straight shot Park Avenue trail map