Moab, Utah is my favorite place on Earth.

I made a short stop there a few weeks ago, but didn’t allow myself to plant down due to the timing. This week, I set aside my Thursday-Sunday to really soak it in.

Moab holds a romance to me: it was one of the first places I traveled once I was out on my own, the first place out west I really experienced; I fell in love there, and first saw the milky way there. Every time I visit — and this was my fifth time — I see something new and breathtaking, meet interesting and exciting travelers, and also treat myself to some awesome food.

The drive up was long, and I arrived Thursday night at sunset. Unable to locate a campsite just yet, I parked at a local free campsite on BLM land. The stars were great, and the night was cool. I awoke early the next morning and again checked the campsites along the Colorado Riverside recreation area, and secured a spot just as someone was leaving.

The real shame of Moab, and the only complaint I have, really, is that the area has become so oversaturated with tourists that every activity, from finding a campsite, to getting food, to getting into the national parks, to driving up the main drag, has become packed and stressful. Even since I first visited three years ago, the town has become in some ways unrecognizable with so much new construction.

That aside, I was grateful to be able to borrow such a small spot to camp for the weekend, which offered great views and space to relax.

Soon after, I made my way over to Arches National Park, which is just outside of town and filled with rugged, alien landscapes of porous and changing red rock.

I drove to the back of the park to embark on the trail up to delicate arch, perhaps the most well-known viewpoint there. The trail is about three miles round trip, with a substantial elevation gain on the way up. Lots of breaks!

The arch looked beautiful with the snowy La Sals in the background, a site I haven’t seen yet because I haven’t visited so early in the spring before.

On this trip, I also visited other arches, including the windows, and turret arch.

Also in that area is double arch, a huge set of two arches with an almost church-like effect on local travelers’ whispered voices.

It was the middle of the afternoon, and by that point I had become sunburned and tired, and elected to take a break from the park to go eat some enchiladas. I missed other stops and hikes in the park, but I’d seen them less than a year ago, and also figured I’d be back later this year.

That evening, I made my way over to Canyonlands National Park to watch the sun set over the vast and impressive canyon.

I’d seen photos before but never actually hiked to Mesa Arch, a famed viewpoint in the island in the sky portion of the park. It was a short hike, which I was appreciative of with my sore feet.

I also made a stop at Upheaval Dome, another short hike to a large crater.

In my opinion, the crowning glory of the park is the sights at Grand View Point Overlook, where you can see into deep canyons for miles and miles.

The following day, I made space for myself to relax at the campsite and take a break, something I don’t often allow myself the pleasure of doing.

Once it had cooled down that evening, I traveled down Potash road to Corona arch, a huge natural feature that isn’t a part of any of the nearby parks.

It was an easy hike up to the point of “the slickrock,” weathered sandstone that is sandy and slippery and rough on the ankles. It reminded me of the upper hike at Angel’s Landing in a way, with some chains to hold onto at some more treacherous points, and a bare ladder at a point near the end. Either way, I was grateful to have made it up.

This trip to Moab, although short, was awesome. I reconnected with some local friends I had met on my travels last year, and got to see some new and some familiar sights.

After this week, I’m hunkering down to work before taking a break — a vacation from my vacation — to see friends and loved ones.

Catch you soon!