Road Trip; How to Survive the Desert in July
Summer is a popular time of year for vacations and road trips, especially here in the States. Summer road trips are one of my favorite things to do. Gather up your loved ones, load up the cooler, figure out which destination you want to check off your bucket list and just cruise. This past Fourth of July weekend, my friends and I decided to go explore one of America’s favorite playgrounds — Moab. If you love the outdoors and have never been to Moab, I would definitely recommend it. And there are a few things I learned along the way that you might want to keep in mind:
For those who don’t know much about the area, Moab is an arid climate characterized by hot summers and cool winters on the very eastern edge of the state of Utah. Its beautiful canyon arches and vast red rock landscapes are known by enthusiasts as some of the best hiking, rock climbing, rafting, mountain biking and four-wheeling trails around.
Many people love to go and just camp. However, given that we were visiting during one of the hottest months of the year, we decided to play it safe and just stay in a local hotel. Thank goodness for that because Moab broke 100°F every day we were there! With that said, no matter what time of year you decide to visit, it’s important to remember rules on how to stay safe:
- Remember to pack the sunscreen and bug spray — unfortunately we forgot the latter. Not a smart move.
- Drink lots of water! Especially when it’s hot out or when you’ll be in areas where you’re out and about doing your favorite activities. It’s easy to become dehydrated and, soon after, disoriented. This can impair your ability to make smart decisions.
- Be sure you have a full tank of gas if you’re traveling in motorized vehicles out on the trails. Some trails can last for miles, and once you reach the outskirts of town there is nowhere to fill up. Essentially, you’re in the desert. It’s hot. And if you manage to get stranded, there are many areas that also don’t get any cell phone reception.
- Travel with friends! There are many unmarked areas on the trails that can get confusing to navigate. Therefore it’s a good idea to have another vehicle out there with you in case you get lost or stuck.
- Follow the cairns. If you haven’t seen a cairn in quite some time, it’s likely that you’re way off trail. And if you’ve been lost before, seeing one of these is like a breath of fresh air.
- If you do get stuck or stranded somewhere, light three separate fires in the shape of a triangle. It’s the universally recognized signal of distress.
Invest in a Good Guidebook
Unless you’re traveling with a guide or already know the trails extremely well, it’s a wise investment to purchase a great guidebook. Having never been to Moab, we used Charles A. Wells Guide to Moab, which proved to be the best purchase of the trip. It provides maps of trails for every level, as well as detailed descriptions to guide you through each part. Without this, we would have surely been lost and would not have been able to navigate the less marked trails. It also provides expert advice on safety and technical instructions for how to approach the various terrains on which ever toy you came to play with.
Some of the best tips we received, aside from what was in the book, were from strangers we came across along the trails. At one point along one particular trail, we decided to stop, grab refreshments and take in the beautiful view. Shortly after, a couple of dirt bikers came up through the trail we were about to continue down. They started telling us of these caves they found off the trail beyond one of the dead ends ahead of us. We followed their instructions, and it was one of the coolest things we saw the entire trip! One thing you’ll find in Moab is that almost everyone is there for the same reason as you — there is automatically this sense of camaraderie based on your shared interests. Every one looks out for each other.
Hike the Delicate Arch
The Delicate Arch is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Utah. Before we arrived, we decided we should make a point to see it. So on the last day, after exploring some of the off-road four-wheeling trails, we decided it was now or never. Unfortunately, that very day it happened to be 105°F out. To get to the Arch, you have to pay a fee to enter the national park where it lives, battle for parking and then hike about a mile and a half to get there. Now, a mile and a half is not what I would normally call “a trek,” but on a day such as this, it was. The struggle was real. However, I do have to say, as miserable and hot as it was, it was one of the most beautiful hikes I have been on thus far. I would absolutely put this on the list of things to see if you ever go to Moab. It’s stunning. And well worth the trek. I was so excited when I got to the top. I pulled out my OtterBox Preserver Series encased iPhone 5s to take one of the most undoubtedly worthwhile pictures of the entire trip, and all I see is the “spinning wheel of death.”
I brought the Preserver Series to protect my device from all the massive amounts of red dust that I was told will inevitably get into everything. What I should have brought was the Resurgence Power Case to keep my battery lasting throughout the hundreds of pictures I was taking while I was out exploring the wilderness.
But hey, at least there is not a speck of dust on my phone.