Sunday, April 20, 2014

Museum of Moab

The Museum of Moab is a small museum, but has a wide variety of things to see. There are dinosaur bones and fossils, mining remnants, native american relics, pioneer items, and a section about the history of Moab. The displays are easy to see, but watch your kids because even the million year old dinosaur fossils are easily accessible to little hands.

The museum has some fun things for the kids to do. There are lizards hidden throughout the displays (40 of them!). Our boys wanted to find all of them, and it kept them interested as we wandered around. They earned a prize because they did find them all. They also had the chance to grind corn like the Native Americans did. And take a turn at the player piano...You can find out if you would have made a living in an old west saloon.

This museum is small, but we spent about an hour searching for lizards and learning about Moab. It is a little pricey for the size: $5/adult, $10/family, but we enjoyed our time at the museum. It was a nice relaxing afternoon after hiking in Arches.

The dinosaur & fossil room

Trying out the player piano

Grinding's a lot of work.

Try to find all the lizards.

There are lots of different displays to check out.
This one has old medical supplies.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mill Canyon Dinosaur Interpretive Trail

You can see the bones right in the rock.
The Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail is located just north of Moab. (Turn west at mile marker 141 and follow the signs for about 2 miles). We took a short walk (less than half a mile) past 15 interpretive signs that tell about the bones embedded in the rock.

The bones are easy to spot once you get used to their color and texture-- sort of purple and ridged amongst the conglomerate rock. Many dinosaurs roamed here including allosaurus, stegosaurus, camarasaurus, and camptosaurus. They died near a shallow sea (or possible a river) and layers of sediment covered them over before their bones disintegrated. Then mineral rich water permeated their bones and hardened. As the bones continued to decay, the minerals took their shape, leaving the fossils that you can view today.

Our boys really liked the interpretive trail. For someone traveling down from I-70 to the Moab area, the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail would be a great stop.

The interpretive signs help you spot the bones.

Even our one year old liked spotting the dinosaur bones.

I think we've worn our children out.

There is petrified wood, too.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Moab DUP

The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers museum in Moab isn't much. It's only open a few hours per week (currently 2-4 pm Wednesdays), and our visit interrupted one of their meetings. The building for the museum is nice, but the larger of the two rooms is mostly a meeting place filled with portraits of the original settlers of Moab.

In the museum portion of the building there is a room about the size of big living room with several displays. An old wooden plow is the center piece, but there is clothing, furniture, and few other items to peruse. Our boys were allowed to ring the bell by pulling a rope, which they thought was cool enough to make this stop worth it.

There are a display cases with pioneer artifacts.

The olden wooden plow

It took all three of them to ring the bell.

There is also a cabin that stands outside of the museum that was built in the 1880s. It was moved to this site and preserved. We went in, and it was interesting to see the construction of the roof: branches bundled together with adobe mud on top to keep the rain out. The walls were also chinked with mud, and there were a few pieces of furniture inside.

We are great fans of DUP museums, but most people won't want to take too much time for this one.

The cabin

Inside the cabin

Things to do in Delta

Fort Deseret
Delta might seem like it's in the middle of nowhere, but we found some really great activities for families there. If you are planning a trip near Delta, check out these cool places that we enjoyed:

Great Basin Museum: Located on Main Street in Delta, this museum has a lot of pioneer history of this area. There are great period pieces, and the museum is free (donation suggested).

Snow Goose Festival: Every year in February, migrating snow geese stop at the reservoir outside Delta. Up to 20,000 geese can be viewed in one of the most spectacular migration scenes in the western United States.

The Great Stone Face: This short hike takes you to a large basalt stone known as the Great Stone Face. Early pioneers saw the face of their slain Prophet Joseph Smith in this rock, and it became a place of pilgrimage for Delta residents.

Fort Deseret: Early pioneers in Utah built many adobe forts in the small towns of central Utah because they were afraid of the Indians. All of those forts were later taken down so the towns could advance-- except for Fort Desert. This fort still stands in a recognizable state.

Territorial Statehouse State Park: Utah's capital was originally in the small town of Fillmore just down the road from Delta. Later, for convenience, the capital was moved to Salt Lake, but not before President Millard Fillmore gave $20,000 for the building. Since those days, the capital has served as a prison, and school, and now a museum.

Yuba Lake State Park: This state park is all about camping and water sports. If you are a boater, a swimmer, or enjoy the beach, you'll enjoy your time spent at Yuba Lake State Park, which is located east of Delta.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Arches National Park

I don't really care what anyone says about Bryce or Zion, Arches is clearly the best National Park in Utah. (I'm assuming no one is standing up for Capitol Reef or Canyonlands, of course). So when we decided to plan a trip for Spring Break this year, Moab seemed a natural destination.

Arches is very beautiful with deep red rock, clear blue skies, and many kid friendly hikes. The arches themselves are amazing, and it's astounding to think of them all in one place. We spent parts of three different days in Arches so that we could see the majority of the park. I'll give some of the highlights to help you plan your trip.

The first evening we stopped at the Windows section of the park. Windows is a very kid friendly area. There are short hikes to 4 very impressive arches. Our almost 2 year-old walked every step of these 2 short hikes. The hike to the North and South Window is short (1 mile loop), and mostly flat-- a must do for any visitor, old or young. The first arch you pass is Turret arch, which is tall and narrow. The loop continues on past the north and south windows, which can also be seen from the road. These huge arches are a great introduction to the park. Across the street from the windows is Double Arch. This is a much shorter walk right up into a unique double arch that looks like medieval architecture. We saw a jack rabbit hop by here, which really excited the kids. Between the short walk around Balanced Rock and the Windows section, you can spend a couple of hours. This is a perfect after-dinner plan.

Turret Arch

The Windows

You can climb up into North Window.

The trails are an easy walk.

Double Arch

Balanced Rock
The second section of the park to check out is Devil's Garden. A few short trails and one long one are very popular. The long trail starts at the end of the road and passes 7 major arches if you go all the way to the end. The Devil's Garden Trailhead begins in the north end of the park. It goes a short way and then a minor trail branches to the right. We really like this branch because it gets you away from the steady stream of people and takes you to 2 nice arches. The first is Tunnel Arch and the second is Pine Tree Arch. Many hikers turn around here and head back to the car, having done a very nice hike. We pressed on toward Landscape Arch. I think this is the most impressive arch in the park. It is also the longest arch in the world, and it appears to defy gravity. When I was a kid, you could walk right up under Landscape Arch, but in 1991 a huge section fell, and now you view it from a distance. There are 2 other arches near here, and short steep trails take you right up to them. First you pass Partition Arch, and then Navajo Arch. If you do all this, you'll go around 2.5 miles round trip. If you continue on, there is a longer, more strenuous hike to Double O Arch which is beautiful and mostly unvisited. This is as far as we've ever been along this trail, and we did it without children. With kids, we feel like turning around after Navajo Arch is wise--particularly if you're going to stop at a few more arches on the way back.

Tunnel Arch

Pine Tree Arch

Landscape Arch
After leaving Devil's Garden (which takes 2-3 hours), we started back toward the Visitor's Center. We like to stop at Skyline Arch. You can see the arch from the road, but we like to hike to the base an scramble around the rocks that fell out of the arch several decades back (check the sign). It takes maybe half an hour to make this short hike.

Skyline Arch

You can hike right up to Skyline Arch.
The final stop in this section of the park is Sand Dune Arch. We save this for last because it is a great place for the kids to play. The walk is only a few minutes, and the arch isn't all that impressive, but beach-fine sand is deep and cool all around the arch. There are always a lot of kids (and adults playing here); it's one of the busiest places in the park. If you have shovels and pails, you can bring them along, if not, the kids will have plenty of fun, anyway. We always go here last before returning to the hotel, because kids will be worn out and dirty after an hour at Sand Dune Arch!

The kids just roll in the sand, at least ours did.

Sand Dune Arch

There are some fun climbing places next to Sand Dune Arch.
The third section of the park is the most famous. The Delicate Arch overlook and hike is seen by hundreds of visitors daily. We always start with the lower viewpoint, which gives a nice view of Delicate Arch. Then we take the real hike. It is best to get started early, especially if you are here in the heat of the summer. We were on the trail by about 8 am. The hike is fairly short (3 miles roundtrip) but steep and hot. It ascends straight up the slickrock, so watch for trail markers. Our 4 year-old made this hike without complaining, but we took it fairly slowly and carried the baby on our back. Delicate Arch is spectacular, and the trail has been designed (purposely, I think) so that you walk around the bend and see the arch right in front of you. There is a large bowl, almost like an amphitheater surrounding the arch, and that's a good thing, since there are often enough people to fill it. We got lucky, and there wasn't a soul at the arch, but the chances of that are extremely thin. By the time we left 45 minutes later, there were nearly 100 people. In the summer, there are even people at the arch in the middle of the night. On the way back from Delicate Arch, take the tiny offshoot to the petroglyphs. They are worth it, and barely add any steps to your hike.

Delicate Arch from the viewpoint.

You have to climb up slick rock to get to Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch

You can walk under Delicate Arch.

Wolfe Ranch Petroglpyhs 
For the more adventurous among you, we have 2 other suggestions for Arches. First, try the Fiery Furnace hike. Kids must be 5 and must have an adult with each until they are twelve (so if your kids are 6, 8, and 10, you must have 3 adults). We did this hike before we had kids, and it is amazing. It is ranger-led (but I think you can do it yourself with a permit) and goes through one of the really cool sections of the park full of fins and steep red canyons. Space is limited, so get an early reservation and make sure you have good hiking shoes. The second adventurous route you might take is to Tower Arch. A two-wheel drive can often make the 7 mile drive to this arch (ask a ranger) but the road is pretty rough, so make sure you have pretty good clearance. There is a moderate hike to the arch from the end of the road. We haven't done this, but it is on our list for when the kids are a little bigger.

If you live in Utah and you haven't been to Arches National Park, you are really cheating yourself out of some great adventures. This is the greatest National Park in Utah. If you're going to Arches, make sure to check out our Things To Do in Moab.