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Arches National Park, UT
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 - 1:45pm by Tommy
158 miles and 3 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay
Our campground was in Moab, about 4 miles from the actual National Park. It was pretty full but nice. We were able to enjoy a pool and showers. The day before we had made the decision to spend our first day in Moab in the actual town and our second day in Arches. So after setting up camp we hung out by the pool for a while. Then we walked around Moab which was a really cool town. We went food shopping and then picked up a few other things in town.
The day went pretty quick and it was then dinner time. We asked a bunch of locals where they suggested we eat and one suggested the Brewery and Tommy knew it because he had eaten there before so that was our choice. We showered and then headed to eat. It was a great dinner.
Then we made a fire and hung out with Nils at the campsite for the rest of the night.
We did the Devils Garden hike which was a great hike through and over some of the slickrock formations. We saw landscape arch, double “O” arch, and Navajo arch. One of the formations was great for some short rock climbing that we managed to get in.
We finished the five miles and headed to some shade for lunch. After we ate then we did the scenic drive through the park which allowed us to see a bunch of the other Arches. These were cool because we could go to them and climb us into them. We took a much needed nap for a while under one and climbed all the way to the top of Double Arch.
After dinner we went to start the Delicate Arch hike to watch the sunset. It was very crowded but that was expected, and despite the crowds it was definitely worth it. We stayed up at the Arch until it was basically dark and then when we got back to the campsite went to bed.
Arches National Park contains the greatest concentration of natural arches in the world--more than 2,000, and more are being discovered every day. The park is more than just arches, however. There are also numerous brilliantly-colored balanced rocks, spires, fins, and domes made of the same soft red sandstone.
The park's 77,000 acres are part of southern Utah's canyonlands, which have been carved and shaped through millions of years of erosion. About 300 million years ago, a 3,000 foot thick layer of salt was left behind in this region when the inland seas evaporated. Over millions of years, debris covered the salt bed and compressed into rock. The salt layer shifted, thrusting the rock layers upward into domes. Further pressures from within the earth produced vertical cracks in the domes. Millions of years of surface erosion gradually stripped away the younger layer of these domes, exposing the salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone and yellow Navajo Sandstone below. The cycle of freezing and melting of water within the cracks in the rocks caused bits of them to break away forming free-standing fins. Wind and water continued to do their job on these fins, breaking off chunks of rock and forming the arches we see today.
Unlike Canyonlands, Arches is much more visitor-friendly in that its treasures are easily accessible. A 41-mile round-trip paved road in the park leads to the major sights, including Balanced Rock, the Windows Section, the Fiery Furnace, and Devil's Garden. From these stops, relatively short trails lead to most of the park's main attractions.
From the Windows Parking lot you can take the 1 ¼ mile Windows Loop past North and South Windows and Turret Arch. Another choice from there is the ½ mile hike to the spectacular Double Arch.
Delicate Arch is probably the best-known feature in the park--it's even on Utah license plates. The hike to Delicate Arch, which is probably the most scenic hike in the park, is a 3-mile round trip, fairly strenuous one across slickrock and along a narrow cliff. However, the dramatic and spectacular view of 45-foot-high, 33-foot-wide Delicate Arch perched on the very edge of a slickrock bowl at the end make every bit of it worthwhile. Because of the heat, this hike should be done either early morning or late afternoon. That's also when the lighting is best for photography.
In the summer, rangers lead a 1 1/2 hour guided walk into the Fiery Furnace, which is named for its sandstone fins that turn flaming red when the lighting is low. Reservations and a fee are required and must be made at the visitor center.
At the end of the scenic drive at Devil's Garden, there is a 52-site campsite which works on a first-come, first-serve basis. It usually fills up quickly, so get there early in the day. The campground is surrounded by spectacular red sandstone rock formations and is the starting point for several hikes into the Devil's Garden. - Lolo
Arches National Park location map