Delicate Arch – Moab Part 4


Granted, this was a biking trip. But riding the Whole Enchilada trail the day before had exhausted what little horsepower we had left in our legs.

As a result, we voted unanimously to celebrate our final day in Moab by renting some high horsepower instead.

Ben, Nate, Phillip and I ponied up our credit cards and our bodily safety to strap into a Polaris Razor. This four-wheel drive vehicle must’ve been designed specifically to suit the adventuring needs of little boys who never grew up. I suspect that little boys who never grew up make up the majority of the tourist population of Moab. Thankfully this trumped-up ATV could handle the fact that four of us weren’t exactly little anymore when measured in girth units.

So when the Razor came off the trailer our 4-hour rental clock began, the pressure to carpe diem was on. We launched off on to a trail, cryptically called “Fins n’ Things”—presumably because of some of the landmarks you’ll see below:


Photography of young men sit inside a razor four-wheeler in a desert course near Moab, Utah.
We traded in our four bikes for a four-wheeler…for a few hours, that is. Ben approved.


Photograph of a young man pointing the best way down a tricky desert trail.
We’d be pretty much be not alive if Phillip hadn’t steered us true up and down the trickiest slopes.


Photograph of a four-wheeler taking a steep downhill rock face of a Moab trail.
I don’t often drive a four-wheeler, but when I do, I drive vertically.


Photograph of a four wheeler working its way up a trail, with one wheel off the ground.
Can you still call it “four wheeling” if one wheel is two feet off the ground?


Landscape photograph of the landscape near Porcupine Rim in Moab, Utah.
“Enough with the four-wheeler already,” you say? Here was the view outside…


Photograph of four men standing outside their 4WD vehicle on a trail near Moab, Utah.
Men will be boys, it seems.


Photograph of the rear end of a Polaris Razor four wheel drive vehicle on a dusty, desert road near Moab, Utah.
The speed picked up when the roads got smooth–if you can call this smooth.


Photograph of a 4WD vehicle leaving the desert in a cloud of dust.
I took a minute to get to higher ground while the guys kicked up clouds of dust. Ben still approved.


Landscape photograph of the sandstone hills just outside of Moab, Utah.
Here’s that “higher ground” I mentioned. What beautiful landscape!

We handed back the keys to our Razor with smiles plastered over our dusty faces. In the same way that we had surprised ourselves with the past few days of biking challenges, we had conquered some challenging terrain without giving our roll cage a workout. As far as I could tell, none of us died on our four-wheel drive adventure. So we celebrated with a brief stop back in Moab at a local, semi-famous roadside attraction.


Photography of a famous rock and fossil shop along the main street of Moab, Utah.
Americana is alive and kicking in Moab.


Close up photograph of a weathered old wagon wheel in the Utah desert.
Sun + time = cool, beat-up lookin’ stuff.


Close up photograph of a single turquoise gem among a large group of white gems.
One of these things is not like the other.

We picked up some impressive fossilized and polished gifts for the kids back home (10 kids between our four families) while laughing at the minor spectacle of the place. Though I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. Moab is the sometimes awkward intersection of hippie art, geo-science, environmentalism, adventure sports, and great milkshakes. And yet we had not yet explored one of Moab’s crown jewels: Arches National Park.

As our last act in Moab, we set off into the park to see the world-famous red rock arches that we’d seen plastered on every advertisement for Utah, not to mention on every Utah license plate. My goal was to capture a sunset photograph of the most famous arch of all, the Delicate Arch. My phone informed me that just 90 minutes of sun remained, so we pushed onward just slightly over the speed limit.


Landscape photograph of Courthouse Towers in Arches National Park in the late afternoon.
Our view of the Courthouse Towers as we entered Arches National Park in search of sunsets.


Photograph of a young man standing near the sandstone ridges of Arches National Park as the sun set.
“One day, Ben, everything the light touches will be yours.” I sidetracked us with a “quick” visit to the Landscape arch, pictured at the top of this post.


Nate must not have been completely exhausted.
Nate must not have been completely exhausted by our little hike.


Landscape photo of the valley beneath the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
The sun was pretty far gone, but we were determined to get up close to the Delicate Arch.


Photograph of three men on a hiking trail in Arches National Park.
Our spirits were high and the sun was low as we started our hike to the Delicate Arch.


A low-light, nighttime photograph of the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
There was little light upon the Delicate Arch when we arrived, so we enlisted Nate and a stranger to help illuminate it for us.


Landscape photograph of the Delicate Arch at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.
We caught another great view of the Delicate Arch with the stars and moon overhead.


Landscape photograph of a nighttime scene on the trail to Delicate Arch near Moab, Utah.
There was little light other than the stars as we hiked back down the trail at 9:30pm. What glorious little light!


Low light photo of petroglyphs near the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
These hundreds of year old petroglyphs at the end of the trail convinced us that we weren’t the first to hike here. That, and the other hikers we passed.

We had made it to the Delicate Arch despite the darkness, narrow Lord of the Rings-style mountain ledges, and the threat of missteps all over the place. Whew. It was a great time to slow down and soak in the beauty of the strange world around us. The Delicate Arch offered a great opportunity to sit behind the camera enjoy the view.  It was soothing to just talk and share a slow-paced final adventure with the boys, and reminisce about the days we had lived out. A month before, this trip wasn’t even on my radar and yet there we were. I was out of my element, and absolutely loving it.

We returned to our car at 10:30pm with only the stars and a flashlight or two to light our way. We had tired of the protein bars and jerky we had in our packs, and made plans on our late night drive  to load up on calories at the Denny’s in our hotel parking lot. Before long our plates and then bellies were filled with chicken fried steaks, cheeseburgers with fried eggs, mozzarella sticks and the like. We boys who had never grown up were enjoying our final supper, in one final late-night act of celebration before leaving for home at 5:00am…just four hours later.

What a day! What a place! What a trip! Thanks to our families for the gift of time and space. Thanks to the boys for far too much fun, and for the encouragement to keep going when the going got ridiculous. Thanks to God for the most incredible playground.

So, uh, when are we going back?

So now I’ve shown you one of mine. Where is your favorite playground in this world? Tell us in the comments below!


  • Steve Hadeen 05-24-2016

    Great series PJ! Sure would have been fun to be the fifth “little boy” were I still there and room was had. Loved the moon and star delicate arch shot!

    • P.J. Oswald 05-24-2016

      Yep. The more the merrier…though you would have also shared in some sore legs! Thanks for the encouragement on those nighttime shots. They were some of my favorites too!

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