ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Is it absolute insanity to try and do Arches in a day? Yes. Did I attempt it anyways? Yup! I love a good challenge. This one required a dubious amount of research to execute flawlessly. And guess what happened? It still wasn’t as we planned, but it was a perfect day at Arches nonetheless.

I’ll break down the different points of interest we visited in the park. I’ll even include Wilson’s arch as an honorable mention at the end because of its proximity to the park.

Getting into the Park

We set our alarms super early and were on the road by 6:15am. We watched yet another lovely sunrise from the car.

Arches is a very large park and Arches Scenic Dr runs through a good chunk of it. As we drove on the road meandering through the park we caught this scene. I can NOT make this up. This is what the sky looked like!

We spotted the Three Gossips on the left and the Courthouse Towers on the right the further we drove into the park.

Double Arch

We drove to double arch super early as our first stop. Double arch is 0.5 miles RT from the trailhead and is home to the highest arch in the entire park. Honestly, we thought we were driving to delicate arch and didn’t realize it until we got to the sign at the trailhead. Not wanting to double back we carried forward with exploring these arches. From the car it looked very dark.

As the sun continued to rise it started filling the shadows with light. We were there just over an hour and the arches looked so different in that time lapse.

It was nearly impossible for me to capture both arches in a shot while standing beneath them. And with good reason as they are very large arches. The closest I got was with the fisheye lense I put on my iPhone.

When you’re sitting inside the arch the view towards the trailhead is nice too. You can see the parking lot so clearly, but they feel a world away standing in that space.

Delicate Arch, Petroglyphs and Wilson’s Cabin

We were so fortunate that someone was pulling out of a parking spot when we got to the end of the oblong shaped lot. Every single spot was filled, including the approximately 20 RV spots (filled with mostly non-RV-type vehicles). That’s why our first stop was supposed to be Delicate Arch. But everything worked out and we were pleasantly surprised to get a spot right away. Others may not be so lucky, so plan to arrive early!

This hike climbs 500 ft and is 3 miles long. But it is exposed. So exposed. Did I mention exposed? I went into sweaty workout-mode immediately with the help of the sun. There are very few places to rest in the shade and I could see people loosing steam on the way up. Make sure you are carrying enough water when you attempt this hike, especially in the summer months!

There’s a window on the way to delicate arch that’s easy to miss. I was curious to see what was on the other side and discovered this awesome view. Unfortunately, after taking some pictures here a line had formed. That was definitely a sign of things to come.

So you get the arch and now what? Want a picture with it? Of course! I did not hike in all of that sun up that super long rock to not capture a moment with the final destination! Well, this photo opportunity also had a line that had formed. I wasn’t happy about it. After all I’m a New Yorker and we do things on the move, never stopping/waiting. I was happy to see it wasn’t a very long line and it moved rather quickly for me.

One of our co-travelers didn’t have that same luck and was skipped twice! So Tony decided that while CJ struggled with the line and the skipping, he would take a much deserved nap in the shade.

Having had enough of the super touristy vibes it was time to head down. Going down is way easier and it gives you a completely different perspective of the landscape.

At the base of the delicate arch trail (at the entrance basically) there’s Ute Rock Art. The sign says it was carved between AD 1650-1850. You can walk right up to it, but DO NOT touch the art. Aside from preserving the art not touching it will also help you avoid a potential $250,000 fine and five year imprisonment. I’m glad they’re taking the preservation of these sights seriously!

After we completed the hike to delicate arch and viewed the Ute art, we visited the Wolfe Ranch. The first settler in this area, John Wesley Wolfe, built it in 1906. He’d been there since the late 1800s. It’s a one-room wooden cabin that housed Wolfe and his daughter’s family until the year 1910.

Landscape Arch

On the Garden Trail there are several options for arch viewing. We decided we would see the landscape arch because I read somewhere that it may not be around for much longer. The trail to the Landscape arch is 2.0 miles long and also very exposed. At the trailhead there are facilities and water fountains. There is no excuse, bring water!

Due to a rock slab falling in 1991, you can no longer hike right up to the arch. This is for safety reasons and the trail gets you to this point. Being closer would have been nice, but not worrying about a slab landing on me is really nice too.

Nicole and I were having a hard time capturing a photo with no one else in it. So the guys found this perfectly nap-able rock and got to it. Isn’t that a nice place for a nap?

When you’re walking back to your car, pay attention to the vista. Only in the southwest can you walk in the desert and still see snow 🙂

Balancing Rock

This formation is sandstone on top of mudstone. It had a counterpart that has fallen and it’s only a matter of time before the larger rock falls too. It’s interesting to see something so strong and heavy simultaneously be weak. What’s awesome trail-wise is that you park your car and walk right up to the base of this one. There isn’t any strenuous hiking and when you’ve had your fill you can run back to your car and pump the A.C.

As we got in the car and prepared to leave Arches we came across this view. I totally ran in traffic to capture this. I’m joking! I did it safely of course. Don’t tell my mom…

Wilson’s Arch

So Wilson’s arch is located just outside Arches National Park. It took us about 30 minutes to get there and there’s a large paved pull off for you to park. There aren’t any facilities here and when we arrived only two other cars were parked. Please be careful crossing the street here when coming from Arches. It’s not like the road inside the park with lower speed limits and tourist. This road has 16 wheelers and high speeds. This “trail” is about 1/2 mile long but steep. Watch your footing heading up and enjoy the view!

All things considered, Arches was beautiful. The arches are definitely something to see in person. To stand under and admire their grandness. I would love to come back and hike through the Furnace one day and share it with you. Want to know anything else about this day at the park? I’d be more than happy to share. Ask below in the comments section!

“An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning one against the other, make a strength.”

Leonardo Da Vinci
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CASSIDY ARCH & PETROGLYPHS

GPS: 38.263715, -111.215994

TIME: 2H 30M

LENGTH: 3.5 MILES RT

ELEVATION CHANGE:  950 ft (Peak: 6,350 ft)

DATE: APRIL 26, 2019

We woke up super early and were on our way to Capitol Reef! We stayed in Loa and were only 25 minutes away from the park. State Route 24 is a beautiful road to drive on and we were going to use it to traverse the park that day. Gifted with many beautiful sunrises that trip, I was grateful to be traveling with people who understand the importance of seizing the day. I would hate to miss morning views like the one we got that morning.

Once we were in the park we drove on Scenic Drive for 3.5 miles and turned onto Grand Wash road. This dirt road took us to the trailhead 1.2 miles away. There are flash flood warnings and a gate that was open when we arrived. I did a great deal of research for all the areas that had potential flash floods and had discovered this video. So please make sure you check for storms (especially upstream from the wash). That family was lucky to get out but I could see being seriously stuck if the water was any higher.

Once we got out of the car I noticed there were facilities at the trailhead. It’s a pit toilet, but for us small bladder owners, that’s all you really need lol.

The moon stayed out long enough to capture this picture. You can see the sun touching the peak turning it yellow just north of where we stood. Soon enough it would light up the whole park.

We walked on the trail and simply followed the signs. It is very easy to follow.

Some of the rock formations you see on the trail are like that of another world. I would go as far as saying it could even trigger someone’s trypophobia.

As we made our way we could see the sun forming shadows and illuminating rock faces. We were still wearing sweaters at this point because it hadn’t warmed up yet.

At this junction we joined the frying pan trail. It’s a sharp left and up. There’s a portion of this hike that gains 600 ft. very quickly and in a short distance.

Naturally the slick rock (with some human assistance) forms “stairs” to help you climb the trail.

And during that steep climb stopping for pictures is a great excuse to catch your breath. It was also nice to take a moment to notice the sun spreading it’s yellow light as it touches the rock formations ahead.

And then as though someone had flipped a switch the sun was on! There is less than a 20 minute time difference between the picture above and below. Awesome stuff and we hadn’t even gotten to the arch yet.

There was a moment where I couldn’t see where the arch could possibly be. And then this trusty little sign let us know we were heading the right way.

When we turned the corner, there it was! The arch! Still had a ways to go, but so excited to see the destination in sight.

Did you know the arch is named for the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy? I wonder if there is any unfound loot in the thousands of hidden corners of the canyon. For the history buffs who want clarification between fact and fiction: I found a great article in the LA Times.

There comes a moment where the trail becomes harder to follow on the slick rock and these small cairns start appearing.

They appear in rows to guide us hikers.

And sometimes a bit more scarcely. But they guided us just the same. Thank you to whomever left these here for the thousands of people who hike this trail.

Finally, we were at the arch. What a beautiful sight! Of course being my very adventurous self I walked right up to the arch. It’s not as scary as I thought it would be but it’s enough to get my adrenaline going. I still can’t believe I was there even now as I look at that picture. You know what’s even crazier to think about? There was no one else. Not a single soul but us. We had the entire place to ourselves.

And since it was my best friend Nicole’s birthday we had a photoshoot up there. We weren’t being rushed by other hikers so we took our time and got all the angles. I love scrapbooking and like when I can make sure I have the perfect pictures for my books!

Just past the arch there’s a great vantage point overlooking the entrance to the Grand Wash. Great place to see the different layers of the Earth.

Even above from where I was sitting there was all this area to explore.

The views went on for what felt like forever.

On the way down we were told by other hikers that they could see the rose gold balloons from their cars driving into the Grand Wash. Watching Nicole head down with the balloons attached to her has to be one of the funniest things that happened that trip. 😂

We retraced our steps and headed back down to our car. When we drove out of the wash we were treated to some contrasting rock colors and super blue sky. It didn’t look this alive when we drove in that morning prior to the sun illuminating the canyon. And just like that we were done with the arch and onto the next adventure…

Having an affinity to any and everything old and indigenous I could not leave the park without visiting the petroglyphs. I walked up to the boardwalk fixture they have just below the rock face and immediately spotted the markings. I have so many thoughts that whirl around my head when seeing this in person, even now my brain tries to put them into coherent words to share with you all.

When I travel I make connections with the spaces around me. Physical connections by touching a staircase handrail, visual connections by watching a beautiful sunset over the ocean, audio connections by hearing the birds, etc. The types of connections can be one or multi-sensory and impact me in different ways. I carry these connections I make with the world home with me. I think it’s the reason why I prioritize travel in my life. It makes me feel connected to the world as a whole. But at the petroglyphs it was more of a spiritual connection. The inhabitants of this area may not be our direct ancestors. But we are all human and come from the humans that have existed hundreds or thousands of years before us. It’s beautiful to stand in a space that they too stood in however long ago…

The etchings that have survived over time are at the base of the rock face. Try spotting them in the picture below. I’ll post a close up if you have a hard time spotting them from this distance.

Such a special place.

Here is the close up of the petroglyphs. I’m glad I was able to see them in person all these years after their creation. Hopefully you can see them one day too.

If you have already visited these or other petroglyphs, or if you’d like to one day, I would love to start a dialogue to share thoughts about what they mean to you. Leave a comment below!

“We’re all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”

Liam Callanan