Arches National Park
|Written by Jared on October 28, 2011|
Start: Sunday October 23, Zion National Park, UT
The drive from Zion to Moab took us about five hours, three or four Spanish lessons, a couple scenic viewpoints and a stop for lunch on the side of the freeway after missing the last turnoff for 40 miles.
We've been camped in Moab for the past six days, the longest we've spent in one place since our trip started. Partly because it's a nice, quiet campground with wifi, but mostly because it's the cheapest place we've found thus far. It's also close to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, the source of our next few days entertainment.
About an hour outside of Moab we stopped off the freeway at a rest area and scenic vista known as Spotted Wolf Overlook. To get an idea of what we saw, click the image for a full sized panorama.
Moab is an interesting place. The town seems to be a strange mix of hippie mecca, redneck garbage dump and extreme sport adventure zone. One thing is for sure, there's a great mix of people here, and a whole lot of stuff to do.
We setup camp in Moab, about a mile outside of town at a quiet little RV park. Our first full day in Moab was full of exciting stuff like working, doing laundry and buying groceries. Tomorrow we planned to hike in Arches.
Jessica lined up a nice 7 mile hike for us called Devil's Garden. We hit the dirt around 9:30 with a forecast of scattered afternoon thunderstorms. The trailhead, pictured above, is a sign of what's to come.
About a mile in we hit the most famous arch along the trail, Landscape Arch (pictured at the top of this article) which is the second longest natural arch in the world, measuring 290 feet across. After the arch the trail continues up a steep rock fin. Above, Jess and Kobus recover their pace after Jess dropped her water bottle off of the hill and got to climb back up a second time.
After another half mile of hiking we took quick side trip to visit the Navajo arch and break for a snack.
Partition Arch was up next. What it lacked in size it more than made up for by offering a spectacular window to the countryside below.
The trail passed along a series of huge sandstone fins. This is the first stage of arch formation - sandstone cracks and weathers into these narrow fins and then water finishes the job by dissolving sections of rock near the base to create an arch.
We continue our trek along top of one of the fins with amazing views of the park on all sides. Click on the image for the full panorama.
At the midway point we break for a lunch. A herd (gaggle, murder, swarm, school?) of chipmunks joined us as soon as they heard the cracker bag open.
As we start the loop back along the Primitive Trail (the sign read "WARNING: Difficult Hiking") it started raining. Our pace sped up a bit, we didn't want to get caught scrambling across wet sandstone, a.k.a. slickrock.
Luckily we only caught the edge of the first set of thunderstorms. The sun stayed out and we got a few good pictures as the clouds rolled by.
Nearing the end of the ascent on the home stretch the boys start to wear out a bit. After another thirty minutes of climbing and walking through sand we made it to the end, just before the gas ran out.
On the way out of the park we stopped by Balancing Rock for a photo op. We didn't stay long - our health insurance doesn't cover acts of God.
We got back to camp around 3, it was threatening to rain and we were exhausted. The solution? An early dinner at Blu Pig BBQ. Ribs, brisket and smoked sausage, just what the doctor ordered. Up next: Canyonlands!