Well, I’ve been in Moab, UT for a week. Probably about time to drive into Arches, huh.
At least I’m doing better than Kelly and Marshall, who have been in the area for nearly a month and haven’t been yet, other than our walk in near camp. We pile into Marshall’s Jeep around 8:30.
Arches National Park is located just north of Moab on 191. Entrance fees are $25 per carload, unless you happen to have a pass (the Interagency Pass is $80 per year for us pre-retirement folk, and worth it if you’re going to be hitting several national parks). We’ve arrived early enough in the day that the line isn’t too long.
Shortly after the fee station is the visitor center, where we learn that there are over 2,000 arches in the park. In this case, an arch is defined as having at least a three-foot opening in any direction. I saw two on the Tower Arch hike, only 1,998 more to go!
Arches has one main road, Arches Scenic Drive, with stops and smaller detours along the way. The tentative plan is to drive the road and see some of the easier stuff today, then come back early in the morning on a future day to do some serious hiking.
Our first stop is Balanced Rock, which is visible from the road but a short hike will take you all the way around it. The large rock on top really does seem to balance on its pedestal. Pictures just can’t accurately convey the size of this thing.
Near balanced rock we see two arches visible from the road, down the Windows Road which we don’t visit today. 1,996…
The second stop is Sand Dune Arch, which isn’t visible from the road, but again it’s less than a mile to get there and back. I really enjoyed this one, you walk through a sand-filled canyon to get there, expect to have to empty your shoes afterward.
Nearby is Broken Arch, named for the crack running through the middle. Despite the name, this must be one of the more stable arches, because the trail goes right through it and people are allowed to climb around. 1,994…
Arches has one campground and it’s located in the back of the park, Devil’s Garden Campground. It’s closed this season for repaving. We’ll be hiking Devil’s Garden out to Landscape arch and several others next time.
On the way out, we stop at a couple overlooks, some named and some not. For those traveling through the area quickly these are worth a visit. As someone who has been camping in this kind of scenery for weeks, it’s not as necessary. I get views not so different from this at camp.
Lunch is at at Quesadilla Mobilla in Moab. I get the Enchanted Chicken which has re-fried beans in it, delicious.
Sunset turns the mountains north of camp purple in the evening. Just another day in paradise.
April 22 and 23
It’s been my goal to take one walk a day near camp if I’m not going somewhere to hike. This doesn’t always work out, but I try. On Saturday the three of us take a short ride farther down the road to explore. Our extended backyard is butted by Arches on one side, and the Copper Hills to the other. And yes the hills have copper in them, at least enough to appear greenish in places. I keep trying and failing to get a picture that captures the green well.
There’s also a lot of red and pale colored rocks too, and that’s easier to photograph. It’s especially neat in places where these extremes come together.
There are even formations to be found out here. For those who read my last post on how the element of surprise can heighten an experience, this is a good example. This rock isn’t as impressive as some found in Arches, but we weren’t expecting it to be here, which makes it more special.
Equally fun to behold are nature’s compositions. I really liked this combination of dead tree and live plants with cliffs in the background.
On Sunday we walk out to the ‘bread loafs’ visible to the east of camp, carved sandstone mounds that may one day turn into the kind of fins that arches seem to come from. They rise above the surrounding valley, the highest point visible that direction. But we need to head down before climbing back up to them.
The weather has changed. Today is cooler and windy with overcast skies, there’s a slight chance of rain tonight. The next week looks to be continuing that trend.
Overall though, things are warming up. Some of the cactus are putting out buds, these red ones are particularly vibrant, although are still a ways from peak.
We make it to the loafs just as the setting sun warns us we should be turning around. These past two days haven’t been particularly thrilling, but I really enjoy exploring my camping areas, it’s one of the little pleasures of the RV lifestyle.