Arches National Park
Arches National Park has been one of my dream destination for a while. The distance has been the barrier for my visit. My road trips tend to be shorter than a normal vacation and limits my destinations. This trip was going to be a little longer since this holiday would replace one of my international trips I take annually. It would be my motivation for picking Utah as my destination. The park didn’t disappoint with its amazing landscapes and unique rock formation including over 2,000 arches within the park. The arches are beautiful but the park is so much more than that.
I started my visit by racing to the parks main attraction, Delicate Arch. I got to the trailhead parking lot by 8:30 a.m. hoping this would guarantee a parking spot. It was not to be, the lot was full and I had to park at the overflow lot a mile away. The trail is a 3 mile round trip hike which meant that it would now by a 5 mile hike for me. I didn’t complain, I had waited for so long to see the arch that it wouldn’t be a problem. People of all ages are able to accomplish this hike, grandparents and children were scattered all along the trail. There are petroglyphs near the entrance and as you pass this point the trail will start it ascend. Then, the route rises along a boulder and from this point on the boulder becomes the trail. As you get closer to the arch, you’ll have to walk along a ledge to the top but it’s a short distance, just giving you a fair warning.
As you reach the top of the trail you catch a glimpse of the arch and then… rainbows and unicorns. Well, the rainbows and unicorns might be a stretch but it’s that kind of feeling. It definitely is a beautiful site. My buzz was quickly ended by the number of people surrounding the arch, even a queue had formed to get a photo in front of it, definitely a daily occurrence. The arch is definitely worth the effort, even if you have to park an extra mile away.
Devil’s Garden is at the back of the park and may be missed by most because of it but I highly recommend putting it on your itinerary. The trail is made up of multiple arches with two just within a quarter mile of the trailhead for the less adventurous.
A third, Landscape Arch (above), is less than two miles away and is definitely worth visiting. A thin layer of rock spans a long distance and you’re left wondering how it manages to stay up and how long it will be before it falls. After this arch, the trail gets real. You’ll have to traverse a boulder that is similar to a rocky backbone with a steep elevation. I think this is a fallen arch or resembles one. This is the point were most end there hike and return to the trailhead. I decide to go a little further and make my way to the next two arches.
The first one was Partition Arch which opened up to a high ledge. The second one is Navajo Arch, a thick low arch with a shady area below that’s a great place for a break. One that you will need before you head back or continue on to see more arches on the trail. I would recommend scheduling one day to complete the whole trail. I didn’t have that luxury so I made my way back to my car and had lunch.
One of the first hikes in Arches is Park Avenue. Most hikers won’t consider this hike because it’s so short. It’s only two miles up and back.
But, this hike packs a punch. The monoliths and landscape will blow your mind. The start of the trail is at the Park Avenue Viewpoint and it provides a spectacular view of the valley below.
The trail makes its way down the hill and its flat the rest of the way. With the high rock formation on each side, it’s like walking on Park Avenue in New York with skyscrapers on both sides. The trail ends at the Courthouse Towers.
If the Park Avenue Viewpoint parking lot is full, I would recommend parking at the Courthouse Towers and doing the trail in reverse. Don’t cheat and skip the hike up to the viewpoint, you’ll regret on missing the view.
Arches National Park is truly one of our countries treasures and my experience here is one to be treasured. Delicate Arch is the parks iconic land mark but there is so much more beauty to the park than just this one arch. The park is also so much more than just arches.
The landscape made up of out of this world rock formations is a site to behold. There are so many trails to be had, short hikes and long hikes. I just touched the surface of the park and I can’t wait to see more of it on my next visit.
To be continued…