Tag Archives: Arches National Park

RAINSTORMS, SUNSETS, AND A CANYONLANDS TRIP

After a beautiful sunrise at Arches, the day deteriorated into a rainstorm. Busily writing a blog in the Moab Library, we missed the fact that it was raining outside. Exiting the library, seeing the storm raging around Arches, another spontaneous decision was made to go and see the cloudburst in Arches,  (which normally gets very little rain). We were on the hunt for waterfalls on high….so up we went again. Just as we had chased the sunrise earlier that day, we now chased the cloudbursts.

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We waited for the sunset and were rewarded with some beautifully highlighted formations: rock and cloud formations.

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That night we had a very late supper ….in the rain….well, we were nice and dry inside. During the night, the wind came up so hard, it shook the camper.…think hurricane thoughts! Our thoughts?? We were supposed to be on the river kayaking at 9am….but….we are fair weather kayakers….the weather was not even close to fair. What to do? The only thing possible. Drive into Moab, have breakfast and wait to see what developed. The weather continued to be windy and rainy so we rescheduled our paddle for the next day. Searching for an alternative activity, we decided to go and investigate Canyonlands National Park. It was only a 37 km drive to the visitor center. It turned out to be a spectacular day…the sun came out and we were off exploring again…..what we love to do.

Our first stop: Monitor and Merrimac, two rock formations..

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Arriving at the Visitor Center, we spent some time watching a short video and chatting to one of the rangers there about hikes. Then headed out for a walk about and encountered another ranger giving a talk about the history and geology of the area, so we stopped to listen.

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We liked Canyonlands. Mike’s cousin Margaret and husband Dave had told us they wanted to investigate Canyonlands. They had spent a bit of time there and were interested in spending more. The same thing happened to us. The energy of the place was less frenetic than that of Arches. At Arches, there were cars everywhere, zooming here and there like bees on the hunt for nectar. At Canyonlands, there were fewer people and fewer cars. It was also much more open….lots of wide-open spaces amid the mesa tops…..a much more relaxed pace.

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We spent the day driving, stopping at overlooks, walking and finally, at Upheaval Dome, we did a hike of a few miles, walking up and down solid rock faces…..a good workout which we needed after all that sitting.

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We also discovered a 100 km road called “White Rim” which is a track for 4 wheel drives and bicycles which piqued our interest.

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Coming home late afternoon, we were dazzled by the new snow on the distant mountains.

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Sunrise at Arches!

EARLY this morning – GROAN… “what time is it”

Reply – “05:46”

“Should we get up?”

Reply – “I suppose… what do you think?”

“It’s cloudy… maybe rain…”

Reply – ‘as someone’s mother once said-”you can’t be a FAIR-WEATHER skier” ‘

“We aren’t GOING skiing

Reply- “Right- up we get then!”

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And so it started – shakily but after a cup of coffee we were out the door and on the way to sunrise at Arches National Park. Arriving at the entrance we could see the lights of a half dozen cars ahead of us. Guess we weren’t the only ‘brilliant’ ones.

Yesterday, we scouted out the most likely place to get excellect sunrise photos. Problem was, neither of us was quite sure where it was, exactly. LESSON: When you have a GPS, mark where you want to go AND then you can follow it back! Much more reliable than 60+ old memories. However, we found a suitable spot with 25 minutes to spare; allowing us each to pick vantage point.

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We don’t know what the official NPS name was/is but I wanted to focus my efforts on a formation that we named “ Three Maidens” (I wanted to name it ‘the 3 wenches’ but was outvoted 2 to 0 – unanimously).

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As the sun slowly began its rise, temptation to shift focus was intense.

p1010968I managed to stay focused on the Three Maidens as we reaped a wealth of beauty. And the pictures are a poor approximation of the intensity of visual stimulation. Our hearts, soared with the power of the morning.2wallsnrise4blog

Then the 3 Maidens blessed us for our patience with a mini-rainbow…

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The rest of the valley glowed.

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And then it was morning.

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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.