After a couple of pretty boring days driving through Nevada and northern Utah, we headed to southern Utah where the national parks are clustered. As a nice bonus, the Motel 6 we’re staying at for the next 3 nights has wi-fi, plus a very nice pool!
Today we toured Arches National Park, and boy was it hot! Stepping out the car, it was always 104-106F (40-41C) which just zapped you on even the shortest of hikes to check out the rock formations or aches. At the first walk around Courthouse Towers, one guy joked it was only half a mile so wouldn’t take water – everytime we saw him after that he did!
Further on, petrified sand dunes caused by rock and other sediment forming over the top of sand dunes before being eroded created an eerie landscape of nothingness:
Balanced Rock was pretty cool, caused by different types of rock resting on top of each other and so being eroded by the elements at different rates. There was small balancing rock just to the lower right of the main one which collapsed a number of years ago, but the main 140ft or so high section still towers over the area:
We decided to leave the Windows Section for another day since we were too tired on our way back. Onto Delicate Arch, the 3 mile loop to get right up to it was too much in that heat, so we took to a couple of the viewpoints instead!
The Fiery Furnace area is a collection of high spires of rock and canyons, requiring a separate permit for hiking. I didn’t really fancy heading in there anyways, so made do with the viewpoints again:
Finding some shade was a nice relief, and Sand Dune arch was a fun little 1/4 mile hike or so. The arches are all created by the soft rock being weathered by the elements, and this was a weird arch simply as it was so shaded and I thought it would have been protected by winds.
Skyline Arch was another arch nicely just off the main road. At least at Devils Garden they had taps for drinking water as it was getting a bit too hot for us! It was still a cool view though:
And finally we headed to the Devils Garden area for a hike down to Landscape Arch taking in Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. Although the park service claimed it was only 0.8 miles each way to Landscape Arch, it certainly felt like a lot more in mid-afternoon sun! The trail up to the arch has been closed since 1991 when part of it collapsed, but from a distance you got a good impression of the size of it at over 300 feet base to base:
Considering Arches National Park is meant to have the largest concentration of natural arches in the world at over 2,000, quite a lot are on remote trails or buried in canyons, as although the overall scenery and rock formations were very impressive, it wasn’t packed with arches as we were expecting. Definately worth a visit for others planning a trip through Utah, but don’t expect arches every hundred yards!
Tomorrow we’re going to head into Canyonlands National Park which is only half an hour’s drive from Moab, though we’re looking at getting an early start of 7a.m to try and avoid the worst of the sun. Early morning should also give some excellent landscapes and be quieter too. Tuesday we’ll either head down to The Needles section of Canyonlands and hour or so south of Moab and/or head back into Arches to check out the Windows section 🙂