Checking Two More Beautiful U.S. National Parks Off The List

As miles and points collectors, we often find ourselves planning trips that will take us to the far reaches of the world, far away from our own countries.  Yet there is still so much that needs to be experienced here at home.

While I have visited a small handful of US national parks, I jumped at the chance to join friends for a late summer getaway in Moab, Utah where we would be exploring both Arches and Canyonlands.

The week away started off as a road trip for most of the group (10 of us total) from Los Angeles.   I chose to fly into Grand Junction, Colorado, rent a car, and meet up with everyone in Moab.  I already had plans to go to FTU the following weekend, and this would allow me to continue on to Florida from there.

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Ranger Cathy Giving Us Her Upheaval Dome Theories (Canyonlands)

I redeemed 20k United miles for LAX-DEN-GJC.  I would pick up the car rental, overnight in Grand Junction and be on the road in the morning for the 2 hour drive to meetup with the rest of the crew.  I had originally booked a night on points (15k) at the airport Holiday Inn, but when the IHG points breaks list later had Candlewood Suites as a 5k points option, I moved my stay to there.   Located in the middle of an industrial and shopping park, the hotel was new and had a full kitchen, perfect for the one night stay.

The two hour drive to Utah was mostly desolate open highway, with not much opportunity for pit stops along the way (no CVS and no Walmarts…)  I did hit  a short stretch of weather which rained hail the size of golf balls.  Thankfully, this would be the only inclement weather we would have the whole trip.

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Exploring Rock Formations In The Rain (Arches)

Moab is not a huge city.  In fact, I was surprised at how small and remote it is.  There are no luxury chains, and not much new construction.  There is a relatively brand new Holiday Inn Express, a great choice given that I could earn stay credits towards the IHG Big Win promo.

I met up with everyone in Moab around noon, and after checking in to our accommodations, we made our way to the Arches front entrance.  The fact that is was raining didn’t hold us back.  It actually made for some amazing cloud formations and even rainbows!

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First Day Exploring The Windows Trail Area  With A Little Weather (Arches)

We were blessed the rest of the week with perfect weather and amazing hikes.

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Hiking In The Fiery Furnace (Arches)

There were so many beautiful rock formations and arches it was hard not be overwhelmed.

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Pine Tree Arch (Arches)
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Part Of Double O Arch On The Primitive Loop Trail (Arches)

There was even some Grand Canyon-esque landscape .

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The Grand Canyonlands (Canyonlands)

And  finally, saving the best for last, our final hike of the trip:

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Delicate Arch: Well Worth The Hike (Arches)

We met at Red Cliffs Lodge on the way out of town to have a final brunch together.  The property was stunningly beautiful and although about a 20 minute ride from Moab, a great option to stay if you have a bit more time.

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Watching Rafters Float By From Our Breakfast Perch At Red Cliffs Lodge

After a drive back to Grand Junction and an overnight at the Airport Holiday Inn (another stay getting me closer to the IHG Big Win) I was off to FTU in Tampa  for a fun weekend of points and miles talk.

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