But let's back up a moment and say that, like so many places I've visited, Arches was not quite what I expected. I had heard that it is one of the smaller national parks so what I expected was a small park with a few arches. Not so. It's a quite large dessert wilderness with arches, yes, but so much more. It has giant rocks and giant slabs of rock, large pinnacles and hoodoos. It's basically a red rock wonderland. And, of course, there's the arches - all 2000 of them. (For identification purposes, an arch is anywhere that a hole has formed in the sandstone rock) It is the world's largest collection of natural sandstone arches and it is quite the spectacle to see.
There were fires in the area on the day of our visit so the air was quite thick and the clouds and smoke were laying low. That made for some moody photos. It was also Independence Day weekend which means crowds. I was visiting my friend Karen, who lives in Moab, and she told us that we needed to arrive at the park by 7am - to avoid lines - and she would meet us after for lunch. But we decided to try a different tactic and meet her for lunch then enter the park around 3pm. That worked. No lines getting in and we were able to get parking spaces near a few of the short walks. This plan only worked because we decided to forgo the Delicate Arch hike - the most popular arch in the park where parking is limited - and do some of the other arches.
We drove through the park marveling at it's wonders - seeing Balanced Rock - and made our way to the Windows section. We chose to walk the Double Arch trail - a half-mile flat path which leads you to Double Arch, the tallest and 2nd longest arch in the park. It was a great short walk for us since we were only there for the afternoon but it got us out of the car. My son's fiance was the only one game to go to the top of the arch - I think the smoke in the air was bothering the rest of us. Then we just had to go to the viewpoint overlooking - from afar - Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the park. More than likely, if you've seen photos of Arches, they include Delicate Arch.
This was taken with major zoom from the viewpoint. Those are people hiking to the arch.
As usual, it was a short visit but still a fun day. A visit with a friend in Moab and then a drive and walk through one of the most unique places I've been. If given the opportunity, I would definitely visit Arches again - though I feel that I we got a good overview on our visit, I know we barely scratched the surface.
Arches - you're quite the national park!
Things to know before you go:
- Arches is located just north of the town of Moab in Utah.
- The visitor center - including rest rooms, park rangers, a bookstore and a park film - is located at the entrance to the national park.
-Things to see include: the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, Balanced Rock, the Windows Section, Delicate Arch and the Devil's Garden.
-Arches is an extremely popular national park. Traffic congestion can be brutal during the high season from March to October. If you don't have much traffic patience, you may want to plan your visit during low season.
-Camping is available at Devil's Garden Campground, 18 miles from the park entrance. Lodging is available in Moab, which is 5 miles away.
- Hiking,cycling,camping, stargazing and ranger programs are available within the park.
- Please respect your national parks. There were two or three tweens who were tumbling rocks down Double Arch and by the time we could get to them to tell them to stop, their parents pulled up and called for them to leave. I don't know where their parents had been, but it wasn't supervising their kids.
How about you? Have you been to Arches National Park?
Linking up with: WATW at Communal Global, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!