Monday, February 12, 2007

Arches National Park

We are staying about 30 minutes outside of Moab along the Colorado River at a Ranch Resort. Today we went to Arches National Park, hiked and saw some of our country's greatest natural beauty. The picture above is Landscape Arch. To get to this arch you need to drive 18 miles to where the park road ends. Then you hike for about a mile. The hike is magnificent, going through a trail that cuts between enormous red rock formations. It opens up to beautiful vistas of the La Sal Mountains. Finally you come to the Landscape Arch, which appears very delicate. It's quite big. The expanse seems as long as the Fort Pitt Bridge.
These arches are known as windows. Although you can see part of it from the road, you really need to do the loop hike to get the full view. Only the arch on the left is visible until you hike all the way up and toward Turret Arch. First you climb steep steps cut into the trail and you reach and can hike into the North Window. Then you follow the trail to the Turret Arch. As you hike around Turret you see this fantastic view of both Windows. This hike is only about a mile, but it entails a lot of climbing. The trail itself is well maintained and wide. Step are cut for the climbs.

This arch is called Sand Dune Arch. This is visible from the road, but to get the full effect you need to hike the trail. Almost the entire trail is sand. At the end of the trail you reach a rocky area. If you climb over the rocks you come up against the wall at the bottom of the arch, allowing you to look up at the underside of the arch.

This is the most photographed of all the arches. It's called Delicate Arch. The best way to see it is to hike. From the trailhead you can hike right to the arch. This hike takes several hours. We did not have the time to do this hike and the other ones we did. So we continued on the road and were able to do a shorter hike that lead to this vista. From the parking lot you have a choice of two views. The lower view is very easy to get to. It only takes a few minutes to get there and the view, although from a distance, is quite good. For a little better view hike to the upper viewpoint. This is a fairly steep hike. It's fun, but probably only takes 30 minutes round trip.

Close to the entry of the park are these rock formations known as Park Avenue. As you walk to the viewpoint the rocks look like New York City skyscrapers. There is a very good hike that continues through this area.

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