THE STAGGERING BEAUTY OF ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Today was our introduction to Arches National Park. We got there at 9 and had to wait in line but it wasn’t long before we were inside the Visitor Center, checking things out and making a plan for the day. It was a bit of a rainy day so we decided that our best plan would be to go as far as possible, to the end of the road and work our way back. We were also interested in the “not improved” gravel road, thinking that maybe there wouldn’t be so many people there. We filled our camelbacks with water, packed our lunches, put on our hikers and set of, full of anticipation. It was one wondrous sight after another. Here is a pic of the start of the ride up.

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In the beginning, Mike was stopping every few miles so I could take pics. We soon realized that we wouldn’t get very far doing that and I was so busy looking through the lens, I was missing all of those first, awe-inspiring impressions. Everywhere I looked there was a another rock formation, each one more beautiful than the last. The feeling I had was strongly visceral….I was feeling the ancientness of the place….the millions of years that had passed, making this such a special place.

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The road ended at Devil’s Garden. There were so many people and cars and motorhomes, it was hard to find parking spaces. We lucked out just as someone was leaving. The first arch we saw was Tunnel Arch….

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….followed by Pine Tree Arch.

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The hiking was easy at this point on well groomed sand and gravel paths. We continued on to see Landscape Arch which is one of the longest arches.

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After this arch, the path became too difficult for me to scramble up and over so we headed back to drive the Salt Valley Road which was a sand and gravel road leading to Tower Arch. We got there too late in the day to hike it and the weather was turning worse. looked like we were in for a major shower and we’d been warned not to drive on this road in the rain as it would get washed out.

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The rest of the day we spent visiting the various viewpoints and arches. By the time we drove back down, we were joking that we didn’t need to see anymore arches. They are indeed spectacular but so are all of the many other landforms, the pinnacles, spires, and balanced rocks that towered into the sky. We ended the day at the Fiery Furnace.
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But then it really started to rain so we headed back down to find the library.

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