September 20, 2017: Arches National Park
Maybe you were all wondering why we went to the movies yesterday before visiting the majestic Arches National Park. It’s simple. We saved the best for last. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it was to choose the photos I selected. A few of them are not very good because of the light, but I used them anyway just to tell the story of our Arches Day.
Ken and I climbed out of bed at 5;30 so that we could dress and eat and make it to the park entrance well before the opening time of 7;00. We observed long lines of cars when we drove by Arches at other times. As it turned out, we were first in line. We had to wait about 20 minutes, and at 7:00, there was no ranger in sight. So we just drove on in. We have a Senior Pass anyway. The cars behind us followed. When we got just as ways up the hill, we noticed that the ranger was finally at the window.
The reason that the coloring of some of the first photos is off is because we got to the Windows section of the park while the sun was rising and the arches were in the East. I really have no words to describe this drive through towering sandstone walls and pieces of sandstone called fins. The structures almost looked alive. As we were driving we saw President Washington, a fat man with no head, three wonderfully tall columns called the Gossips, and much more. We had so much fun imagining what to name the structures that we saw.
At Balanced Rock we entered the Windows section with North and South Arches and Turret Arch. The path to these arches was easy and the scene from the arch spectacular. In that same area is Double Arch. The path was once again easy although at the Arch, I opted not to climb the rocks to the top.
Delicate Arch, the image on cards, license plates, brochures and more was another stop. The lower viewpoint was easy, but far from the arch. The upper viewpoint was still a distance away but it was closer than at the base of the trail. This is one time that I wish I had hiking skills. People can hike out to Delicate Arch, but it is a moderately difficult hike with an elevation gain of 480 feet. I regretted not being able to go out there and see it up close. Honestly this was a feeling I had a lot throughout the park. I had to pass up Double O Arch, too, because it is classed as a difficult hike. Delicate Arch is an isolated fin that stands on its own with the La Sal Mountains in the background. When you picture Utah in your mind, an image of Delicate Arch will probably pop up.
Next we moved on to the Devil’s Garden area of the park. I took a photo of Salt Valley because the entire park is situated above a salt bed. Salt accumulated over millions of years ago in the Colorado Plateau. Over time debris covered the salt and created pressure. Salt is unstable in this condition and shifts. Basically it is all this shifting that shaped this land . The major formations are mostly either Entrada or Navajo Sandstone and they cap the park. Wind and water have worked to break up the sandstone, leaving behind the arches, columns, walls, and balanced rocks.
Ken and I had fun going into the Sand Dune Arch. Some Chinese people were taking photos inside the sandstone structure, and one offered to snap our photo. After that I walked on alone through the blackbrush out to Broken Arch. I was a little nervous because I was all by myself, but I did fine. Later the Chinese group came down the path, but by that time, I was back.
The Devil’s Garden parking lot was full, presumably with people wanting to hike out to Double O Arch and others in that area. Ken and I found a parking place and were able to take an easy hike to Skyline Arch. This Arch used to be smaller, but a large chunk of it fell out suddenly in 1940.
As we exited the Park we stopped by Park Avenue with columns of stately sandstone. This is also an area with a lot of balanced stones. I opted not to take the trail through the valley as it is a primitive trail, and I’m not confident following cairns. Plus–I was tired. I did a lot of hiking today. And, most important of all, those balanced rocks look like they could tumble down at any time for any reason. No smoshed Garnet!
We ate in Moab and then had a little time left to track down some petroglyphs, Indian writing. They can be hard to spot as the tablets are not marked due to graffiti damage. We drove by one on Golf Course Road and couldn’t spot the place until I found a photo on Goggle. We had passed it numerous times and thought it looked like the place, but we didn’t see anything. We stared and stared, and then Ken finally saw the figures.
Our advice-go to Arches early. It gets full and then there is no parking. We noticed a long line of cars waiting to get in when we left.
It was a wonderful day.
Mosquito Update: There are some small flies in the desert. I don’t know what they are. I was wondering if I was seeing some “no-see-ums.”
Beehive Commendation: (Update to last night night’s commendation. Not only did Jim and Bonnie Greenfield give us brochures and a way to plan this trip, they are also caring for our house while we are gone. Their son, Terry, is picking up our mail. They are the best neighbors.) However for today, the commendation goes to Mother Nature. Today we saw some of her most beautiful work. Arches is a wonder.