Arches National Park was established as a National Monument in 1929 and upgraded to National Park status on November 12 (my birthday), 1971. It protects 76,679 acres of the Colorado Plateau in eastern Utah just north of the town of Moab. It also protects the highest concentration of natural arches on the planet. Over 2,000 arches with an opening of at least three feet exist in the Park. With over one and a half million annual visitors, the Park is quite popular (sixteenth among the sixty-three National Parks). It is, therefore, often quite crowded. So we always knew we wanted to be a bit strategic about when we visited. It turns out that an unhappy circumstance ended up offering us a great opportunity.
I tested positive for COVID-19 on Christmas morning . Vaxxed and boosted and having avoided it through New York in the pandemic’s early days and through many months and two huge roadtrips, it finally came for me at a small holiday gathering of friends earlier that week. Sean and I knew we’d been exposed, but we were testing negative as we arrived at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. We were determined to test throughout our visit. Sure enough, testing before leaving my childhood bedroom on Christmas, my test result was very, very faintly positive.
Sean and I headed back to Chicago. Masked and with the windows cracked on the drive across Michigan. Happily, my parents and best friend, Andy, did not contract it. Even though I quarantined the our bedroom, lying around reading a great book about corvids, Sean eventually followed me with a pretty bad case of the infection, which took him into the New Year.
Once our infections were over, we decided to take advantage of our few months of super-immunity to go on a getaway. We decided on Moab for a long weekend in February. We could connect it to our fifteenth anniversary on February 10. And with the focus of limited time, we’d just do Arches and not try and squeeze in nearby Canyonlands National Park too.
Checking flights to Grand Junction, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah, Salt Lake was many hundreds of dollars cheaper. So even though it was farther away, we decided to fly into Salt Lake and then drive over the Wasatch Range out onto the Colorado Plateau.
Our dates set, I looked for lodging and discovered the Radcliffe Hotel, which looked like really nice. They were having a winter sale, so I splurged and booked a suite for us.
We were set: we would fly to Salt Lake on Friday, February 11 and drive to Moab. We’d spend two days exploring the Park. And then on Monday morning, February 14, we’d drive back to Salt Lake and fly home.