Winter Camping in Moab, Utah
Even though Moab is only a mere five hour drive from our house, we have only been there a handful of times! We got invited to go for the weekend for a friends birthday so we jumped at the opportunity for off-roading, meeting new people, and braving the cold for a few nights.
Dispersed Camping in Moab
Driving from Denver, CO to Moab, UT should theoretically take 5 hours going the speed limit. Add a four car convoy and bathroom breaks; a 5 hour road trip will soon turn into 8 hours. We departed from our home around 0630. Stopped for gas, a bite to eat, and we were on our way. We meet up with the whole crew at the McDonalds in Idaho Springs. If anyone has traveled on I-70 during the winter, that McDonalds is the holy grail of pre-ski breakfast, gas, and hot coffee fuel. Once we were all on our way, we cheerfully endured ski traffic until we broke past Vail and zoomed towards our off-roading haven! We had Gemini Bridges as the campsite in mind for our first night camping. Gemini Bridges holds vast views of the mountains and jagged red rocks and makes for an exciting winter wonderland while being pretty central to the rest of the National Parks. The weather once we passed the state line into Utah was cold, snowy, and hard to see more than 30 feet in front of the car. Oh well. We just thought to ourselves that we would build a big fire and keep warm once we get to camp. I think that the desert however had another way of welcoming us. Even with 4x4 vehicles, recovery boards, and tow straps, we weren’t all able to make it up the first pitch of the Gemini Bridge road. With our hopes at an all time low, the sun setting in less than 2 hours, and the snow teasing us as it falls around our cold bodies, we decided to change plans. We settled on Lone Mesa Campground. About 5 miles past the turn off for Canyonlands, we hauled ass trying to find a suitable place for 4 cars, 12 people, and 1 dog. After pushing through snow, puddles, and copious amounts of red clay, we found our shining star. Nestled deep down forest roads and through the thick juniper trees laid a huge plot of flat land that suits ground tents and 360 degree views of rock formations. Just as we set up camp, we looked up in unison and saw swirling yellows and oranges in the sky. The sunset gods had been kind to us that night and we basked under the desert sun and welcomed the starry sky after witnesses a gorgeous golden hour. We feasted on fire roasted asparagus and sirloin steak, coconut curry chicken and sticky rice, and drank our weight in whiskey. The cold seeped through our tent and although we were warm with good company and hard liquor, our physical bodies had a difficult time warming up, even sharing a sleeping bag and Tucker nestled into the curves of our bodies.
Full Day of Exploration in Moab (and a proposal!)
Frost lined tent. Cold breath & foggy glasses. Those are the staples of winter camping. It was a chilly beginning to our official first day in Moab. But determined to capture sunrise from somewhere other than our sleeping bag and comforts of our roof top tent, we gathered the strength and courage to load up on jackets and make our way through the 10 degree weather for a chance at seeing alpenglow on the nearby mesas. Tucker got a little bit cold walking through the ankle deep snow so we carried him until we got to our destination. We nailed sunrise and hurried back to camp to indulge in a hot cup of coffee (maybe a shot or two of whiskey to warm ya up), bacon on the griddle and soft tunes being played as the whole camp rose from the dead to grab a bite to eat. We had a leisurely time getting ready for the day. We popped a few rounds off of the shotguns all while making some Bloody Mary’s to go along with our chorizo hash brown scramble. We decided on Canyonlands, White Rim, and Dead Horse Point State Park to explore that day. Nothing with ultra hard off-road trails. We just wanted good views and banger pictures. White Rim was pretty extraordinary. Drop offs that make the hairs on the back of your next stand up and tight winding roads that make your butt pucker. After a solid few hours exploring the White Rim area, we hurried our group to Dead Horse Point State Park. Golden hour was upon us. We saw the sun gleaming over the cliffside and we knew that the sunset was about to blow our minds. With our spirits high, love in the air and a ring in my pocket, I decided to pop the question to Alana! I stopped a couple of our buddies and informed them of the plan. They were jumping with joy and couldn’t wait to help me pull this off. We waited until golden hour was at its peak and time was of the essence. I took Lana’s hand and led her up the foot path to the overlook. I laid down our little picnic blanket and we swung our feet while reminiscing past trips with similar views. We both started getting teary eyed and I knew my moment had arrived. I stood up and helped her up while painting a firm grip on her waist for safety and pulled out the ring box. I am honestly surprised that I managed to utter the words “will you marry me?” through the ugly crying and fear of her stepping backwards off the cliff in excitement. She exclaimed “Yes!” with the same amount of crying and tears and we got up for a hug and kiss. We heard lots of onlookers cheer and I saw Alana sheepishly look towards our friends on the cliff below and scream “Woohoo!!” to them while fisting pumping the air like in The Breakfast Club.
Once she said yes and as a newly engaged couple, we went back to camp to celebrate! We glamped pretty hardcore that night as we made roasted brie and garlic on crackers for an appetizer (no picture included bc it was devoured by everyone in a matter of seconds), and 3 whole racks of ribs for the main course. We ate our weight in food that night and stayed cozy by the campfire all while catching sparkles of Alana’s new rock on her hand. We slept better that night, partly because we weren’t wrecked by whiskey and threw the portable heater up in the tent for a few minutes before we slept to get it nice and comfy inside the tent.
Farewell, Desert Dust
We slept in and decided to skip sunrise. Even though our bio on instagram says “pursuing happiness and banger sunrises” it felt like in order to be happy, we would’ve rather slept in an extra hour and wake up to the smell of sizzling bacon. That morning pretty much consisted of packing up the car and deciding that we were going to attempt the top side of Gemini Bridges as a final departure from our desert retreat. We hit the road around 11:00am and blasted up to the trail. Let us just say, THANK GOD we didn’t try to make it up this trail on Friday. Even with the sun beating down on the melting snow, the trail was slick and steep. The 6 mile jaunt back to the main highway took us about an hour and a half. We took lots of photos, jammed out to a bunch of tunes, and already felt nostalgic of a trip that had not ended. Before we called it quits and hit the road back to the land of legalized weed, we hit Moab brewery. Threw back a few brews and cheered to the quick lovely trip. Until next time, desert dust.