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On our first day in Moab we did what we always do on our first day in a new place: tour the area. Instead of going on a self-guided, potentially fruitless walk, however, we opted for a guided Moab hiking tour! I don’t mind sounded ignorant by saying there is so much more history to this area than I realized. We would have missed so much if we didn’t have a tour guide on this hike, and so much we learned which helps us appreciate the area more!
Moab Hiking Tour with Deep Desert Expeditions
We met Mike from Deep Desert Expeditions at Lion’s Park, on the edge of Moab. We followed his 4×4 up Highway 191 to 279, a paved road which bends with the Mighty Colorado River. The views, alone, were worth the trip: the Colorado River is always spectacular, and this stretch of the river runs between gorgeous, tall, red sandstone cliffs. The drive was made even more interesting with Ben’s reminiscences of rock climbing this cliff. Or was it that one? The one over there, maybe….? Well, it had an edge to it.
We took a short detour up a rocky road leading to the small parking lot for the Poison Spider Trail. Sounds ominous, and it was. We followed walkable, tumbled rocks up towards the first solid sand stone walls, passing preserved dinosaur tracks along the way. Mike told us all about the Utahraptor, whose skeleton and prints were first found just a few miles outside of Moab, Utah. Once at the rock wall we were stunned to see numerous Native American petroglyphs of varying ages along our path. I’ve never been so close to ancient rock carvings before, and these were absolutely beautiful! They obviously tell a story, but, as Mike liked to say, we weren’t there at the time so we don’t know what exactly they mean. I’m no expert on ancient art, but I’m pretty sure a daddy goat, a mommy goat, and a baby goat went for a walk in the woods and while they were gone a big scary monster snuck up on their house and ate all their porridge. Just try to tell me I’m wrong.
We could have gotten to Poison Spider Trail on our own. We could have found the dinosaur tracks on our own. We even could have followed the track toward the petroglyphs on our own. The real beauty in hiring a Moab hiking tour guide was what happened next. Mike expertly navigated us around slick rock and sand stone formations towards one of the most stunning sights in Moab- an unobscured view of the La Sal Mountains and the sand stone features in front known as Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area. Wow. Seriously. Props, Mike.
Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area
I spent 20 minutes snapping the same picture repeatedly just trying to capture that moment when the sun peaked out from clouds for the first time all day and illuminated Behind the Rocks in hues of reds and blues. No one else was around. No wind rustled. We were alone, at peace, in a beautiful area. I tried to capture that moment to keep forever, but we all know those experiences only live on in our memories (and our websites.)
The main destination for our hike was Longbow Arch, and we continued to enjoy beautiful scenery, unusual terrain, and great conversation along the way. Mike is a Utah transplant from the Northeast, and gave up a lofty career after finding his passion in the desert.
We applaud any effort to find and be true to your passion, and Mike is living proof that that lifestyle can bring lasting happiness. We like to think we’re taking the same course in life, and it’s always nice to talk to a kindred spirit!
Mike opened up about more than just the dinosaurs and Native Americans who once called this land home. He also explained the history of the National Park Service and the effect that current legislation, irresponsible tourists, and coal mining are having on the area. He showed us a native plant, Ephedra, and how it’s used medicinally (chewed and spat). He taught Whit about cacti, the best way to climb slick rock, and how to follow trail markers. He and I talked at length about landscape photography. By the end of our hike Whit was even running through the red sand to catch Mike and Daddy to bring them Ephedra stalks. That’s pretty friendly in Whit’s World!
We were a bit more tired than we’d expected to be by the time we made it back to our car. Our Moab hiking tour through the Poison Spider Trail to Longbow Arch lasted exactly 3 hours. Whit had started to complain that he was tired, and we couldn’t blame him. We’d pushed him up and down boulders, all while filling his head with what he considered random facts worth promptly forgetting.
Any time we can get out in nature and experience a new place is a win, though!
Moab Hiking Tour Details
- Deep Desert Expeditions: (435) 259-1565
- Deep Desert Expeditions has many different Moab hiking tours to choose from. Dinosaur tours, Native American tours, photography tours, etc. Check their website here for a full list!
- Camera (optional but helpful accessories would be a polarizing filter and a tripod.)
- Bottled water
- Comfortable hiking shoes
- Light Jacket
(This is an affiliate link. I will receive a small commision if you choose to purchase this product.)