Arches National Park

17 Nov

It was just about a year ago that we visited Utah and discovered Bryce and Zion Canyons along with Cedar Breaks National Monument on our way to Colorado and The Grand Canyon. At that time we decided not to visit another of Utah’s ‘must see’ sights – Arches National Park  – we have since been informed by many that we should go back and visit, it happened that we could easily detour our route south and east to take in Arches, we are so pleased we did.

We had thought we could not camp in the National Park Campground, our information indicated haRVey was too long, however, the Ranger at the entry booth informed us we would be fine, drive over and pick a spot! We did….

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and this was just a part of our fantastic view…

pan right to the distant La Salle Mountains, topped with snow.

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the ‘humps’ in the foreground are petrified sand dunes, Navajo sandstone which tops the softer red rock so easily eroded to form the arch features of the park.

From our campground eighteen miles along the park road we could take several trails, our first afternoon we opted for a short hike to view Tapestry Arch and Broken Arch (not actually broken just cracked in the middle.

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We were able to take in some of the magnificent views and orientate ourselves with our new surroundings before watching the sun set. As it rose again next morning other campers eager to get a sunrise shot had climbed high on to the round dome of rock in front of our site to catch the first rays. Unfortunately as the day started, it seemed like it would not be quite such a blue sky one and hazy cloud marred what could have been a good picture for them.

After breakfast we set off towards Landscape Arch and to take in a few more 0f the 220 total arches within the park. The trail was not particularly even but, just challenging enough to gain some exercise. We had plenty of company around us, some visitors had obviously been out early and were already returning on our outward trail.

IMG_4357 Tunnel Arch

IMG_4362 Pine Tree Arch

At first sight of this arch I was so impressed with the small blocks of stone in the centre. If someone had told me the arch was man made and these were the keystones, I would have believed them. I suppose this is the converse of the keystone principle as when the cracks in these pieces of stones weather further it will lead to the collapse of the arch rather than supporting it!

 

From here the onward trail led to Landscape Arch

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Worn away to a delicate span, the length is claimed to be equivalent to four football pitches. This arch experienced a rock fall as recently as 1991 and the trail beneath it remains closed. I was happy to view from a reasonable distance so as not to experience the shock hikers must have had that September day when tonnes of rock fell from the right hand shoulder (the light patch where the sun is catching the rock). The fall, it is thought, was brought about by 10 days of heavy rain saturating the rock and weakening it. (The rock which fell was 60ft long 11ft wide and 4ft thick and can be seen as rubble beneath the arch on the right of the picture)

The trail continued from here  out to Double O Arch, a route described as "difficult, with many short elevation changes, rocky footing and some exposure to heights" I already had a vision of the pictures I have seen of hikers edging along rocky ledges with nothing between them and the drop below … I was not sure….but to begin with all was well until we came across a huge rounded rock right in the middle of the trail. Small cairns of stones mark the routes and following where they led with our eye we realised we were meant to climb the rock!

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A group of young Japanese tourists were attempting to pick a way up a crevice at the side of the main rock, we all debated if that was the correct way or should one just scramble over the top? It took a few minutes for the two lads to reach their summit, Robert decided to take the  alternative route and much to their amusement met them at the top. I opted to sit on a rock below and observe… this is the view from the other side…

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somewhere over there a path continues, we did not, but many others do.

After a restful afternoon back at camp with feet up to recover, before dusk we decided to take the trail out to Sand Dune Arch. A scramble over small rocks, a walk through some scrub, the indicated location came into view but we could not see an arch. Eventually we discovered the trail led through some high rock walls and there right in the middle, hidden from the outside, was another arch.

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The sun was setting on our second day in the park as we walked back to haRVey in the campground surrounded by the glowing red rock.

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Our final morning in the park was cooler with a fresh wind blowing, we knew rain was in the forecast but wanted to make the most of our time before we had to leave. We drove back along the park road, took the short drive out to view the Fiery Furnace area.  A further side road to the Windows and several other arches in their vicinity would be  a great area to take in for an insight into what the park is all about if your time was short.

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North and South Window put together to make ‘the spectacles’ – I love the nose in the middle!

Double Arch, the Parade of Elephants, Cove of Caves and Turret Arch are all gathered together here with easy paved walks to view them.

How pleased we were that we had been able to come back to Arches, to camp in the heart of the park was a bonus we had not expected, the sun shone for us, the views were spectacular. We had a great experience and thoroughly enjoyed finally getting some decent exercise.

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One Response to “Arches National Park”

  1. Stephen Brindle November 18, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    Hi Bob/Elaine,
    Fantastic to see that America is still providing fantastic treks and views. I am envious…
    Bob, you’ll be please to be over there and not back here developing colours. With the new EV [Leaf] on the way there’s a need for a 3Coat Pearl [difficult] and were heavily involved in the Avtovaz plant in Russia. They have 10 people in each bay for checking dirt inclusions. That doesn’t inlcude all the other jobs in paint shop where they have hundreds of bodies just for those jobs too. If you’d like to swap places just let me know. I need a hard time treking across several States.
    Best Regards
    Steve

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