Arches National Park is one of the finest National Parks in the country. It is also, quite frankly, one of the greatest places on earth. Why it isn’t a Wonder of the World I will never know. As previously mentioned my husband and I embarked on an epic Southern Utah Tour last year. Arches National Park was premier on our list of spots to visit. I had been told of stories of this place for years and was expecting a lot. I was not in the slightest bit disappointed. I only wish we had more time there and it was closer to where I live so I could spend more time there.
Immediately upon entering the park one is dumbstruck by its beauty. The first jaw dropper you come across is the Three Gossips and Courthouse Towers. A commanding view of the valley is cut by three human like figures who appear to be talking to one another or talking about someone else. Perhaps some time long ago there was another tower in front of them that gave them something to gossip about? Courthouse Tower is a wonderful example of how these shapes are constructed. It is evident that the different strata in the stone is of different widths, thicknesses, and densities. This allows for bits to crumble and fall at different levels causing towers, arches, Hoodoos, standing rocks, fins, etc.
As your mouth is just beginning to water one takes in Balanced Rock. I can tell you I would have had my mind blown if this was all I ever saw in the park. The gossips may be wondering when the rock will fall because surely it will be any moment now? Balance Rock is a giant bolder precariously balanced on a very very small base. As you walk on a path around it you realize it is quite possible it could fall while you are standing there and you start wondering how fast you can actually run. It was also at this point of the park that you really start understanding the complexity of color in the park as well. All of the rock is red and orange but it is a million different shades that come together in a glorious rainbow that would make Bob Ross proud and make Ansel Adams want to shoot in color. (No I did not enhance the color in these photos! The darker photos were taken in the morning and the more orange were taken at sunset.)
I could sit and stare at this rock formation forever but there is more to see at the park and not nearly enough time to see it all in. Skyline Arch is one of the first arches you come to when driving through the park. It is a mere hop from the road up to the arch. It certainly wets your whistle for what is to come.
Sand Dune Arch was probably one of my favorite Arches despite the fact it is not the largest nor the most delicate or precarious. It is a thicker stubbier arch surrounded by sand of the finest quality. The sand, the arch, and the surroundings are all practically the same color. In fact, if you stare at the arch at certain angles and in certain light it almost disappears. It is an easy hike to get to and I would recommend it for anyone.
Devil’s garden Trailhead is one of the greatest hikes I have ever taken. That’s big talk Jenny. Why? Well it scared the heck out of me, that’s why. I am no expert hiker by any means. The map said easy to moderate. I thought, “I got this.” Well, I got it that’s for sure. At times a fear of heights nearly crippled me. There are no safety barriers on this walk. It starts off slow walking you past Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, and the glorious Landscape Arch is where most people turn around. Well, how could I turn around having just seen Landscape arch?
This is where the hike got really spicy. I had to cross a rock barrier with a significant drop. It was very windy and not at all safe. So, I did what any self respecting woman would do. I crawled. There was no turning back at this point because I didn’t want to go back over this cross again. Double O Arch is your reward for nearly losing your life and she is glorious.
One continues on the primitive trail to view the Dark Angel, Private arch and glorious sets of Fins. This hike manages to elevate you, scare you, and humble you all at the same time. But, I really would not recomend it for the faint of heart.
On day two after recovering from my previous anxiety causing hike we embarked on the 4×4 Trail going to Eye of the Whale Arch. It seems that the trail is not passable in a Jeep Cherokee albeit we surely tried! So we settled for Eye of the Whale Arch without making the entire loop. It was no settlement at all. It was glorious and private because the regular visitor would not brave the road and the day tripper would want to see the more popular features of the park and skip this.
Later in the afternoon we embarked on the hike to Delicate Arch. After staring at this arch on the license plates of nearly every Utah registered vehicle this arch was a must. Well, it turns out my nerves were still shot from the previous day’s hike. This walk was pretty easy most of the way albeit it was very much uphill the entire way. But the final ascent to the arch makes the hiker hug the wall for fear of falling to their death. Delicate arch likes her privacy. Unlike some of the other arches she does not let you view her majesty until the very last second when hikers walk around a very tight and very tall walkway. And then, miraculously there it is. It was far larger than I expected it to be and far more glorious. Even the landscape behind the arch just adds to its majesty. It is no wonder Utah drivers desire its photo on their license plates.
Please friends. Visit this park. Take care of this park. Enjoy this park. For it is surely a wonder of the world. If not a wonder of the world it is undeniably a wonder of the Western United States. I will forever consider this visit as one of the best places in the United States that I have ever visited even if it did scare me to death a time or two.