Friday, October 17, 2014

Arches National Park

Arches National Park contains the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world- more than 2,000 at last count- the longest being, Landscape Arch, measuring 306 feet base to base.  Yet, what is an arch?  Is it the same as a bridge?  How about a window?

Double Arch (back arch is at an angle; the blue sky is the edge)

To qualify as an official stone "arch," a hole must have an opening at least three feet long in any one direction.  There is no requirement for width, though; quite a lot of the arches in the park are so skinny you have to place your cheek up against the rock in order to see any light through them.

Gemini Bridge

A natural bridge is formed by running water and spans either a present or former waterway.  Very few natural bridges exist at Arches, but Natural Bridges National Monument, just two hours south (112 miles), has three tremendous examples of this feature.  All of them are visible from their paved scenic road or by hiking trails.  Perfect for us; we are heading that way next.  Unable to make it to Natural Bridges National Monument; check out Gemini Bridges just 5 miles past Arches entrance.

Petrified Dunes w/North & South Window

Is a window a special kind of arch?  Not really.  "Window" is just a descriptive term that is often given to rock openings high on the rock wall or fin.  Some arches are called windows if they "frame" a particularly good view of the landscape.

Scenery in Arches N.P.

Delicate Arch

The park is always open, 24 hours a day.  I'm first thought was "why"?  Then I closed your eyes, just imaging being one with nature, sitting or laying on this rock looking through an arch with pure amazement as the moon and stars highlight the arch.  Then I could understand why!  Not only an amazing site to see, but think of the memories and the photos not many would have. 

Canyoneering down rock

The park offers vast amount of ways to see/explore the park: ranger-guided activities, backpacking, climbing & canyoneering, biking, four-wheel drive routes, hiking or drive automobile through the main road. For the ones that like to get off the beaten-path the park has three unpaved roads, two being four-wheel drive roads. 

Where is that locker?!?
We took the unpaved road, turned left onto a four-wheel drive road in hopes to take a different route back and to see the only two named arches - Tower Arch & Eye of the Whale Arch in the back country.  Unfortunately we finally meet our challenge in the back country; without having a locker (keeps all four wheels turning at the same time) we were unable to make the climb up the rugged slick rock covered in sand.  So we visited with a few other couple who also had the same thinking, before we just returned to the unpaved road, had a picnic at the base of the Klondike Bluffs, then exit the park continuing down the unpaved road to Hwy 191.

Balance Rock

 Maybe next time we will make it to Devils Gardens; this area is at the furthermost end of the park where there is a campground and over ten named arches.   We'll be back, as we hope you get a chance to explore all Moab, Utah has to offer.   

*Don't forget you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Us in North Window
Ending the day w/ another awesome sunset

                                                                                                  10/10/14  ~D

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