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Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 33 Moab, UT (Leg: 0, Trip: 2,238)

Today we toured the remainder of Arches NP. We arrived at the park a few minutes after 10am and it was crowded! There was a long line of vehicles waiting to enter the park at the pay stations. Fridays through Sundays appear to be their busiest times with a lot of off road vehicles using the parks. Once we got into the park, we headed for Delicate Arch.

We came to the trailhead to walk up to the upper viewpoint. We could have taken the 3 mile trail directly to the arch, but it was very crowded and there was no place to park the car. So we went to the viewpoints. The lower one is an easy 100 yard walk while the upper one is about a half mile and climbs a couple of hundred feet over rough terrain. Fortunately our walking sticks worked really well here though there were some moments of excitement as we tried to climb up the rocks.

Delicate Arch from the upper viewpoint

The people you see in the picture took the 3 mile trail and had an even harder climb. Between the viewpoint where we went and the arch is a deep chasm so you can't just run across. Our viewpoint was crowded too and the primitive trail got a real workout.

After the upper viewpoint we went ahead and did the 100 yard walk to the lower viewpoint. It is almost as good as the upper one without all the hiking. But at least we can say we did both.

Then we went to another trailhead for Sand Dune and Broken Arches. The trail to Sand Dune Arch is short, only 2/10 of a mile, but you walk into a tight space between two rocks to get there. Once there, it is like being on a beach with all the sand.

The path to Sand Dune Arch gets mighty tight!

You can actually climb up onto the arch and some kids were doing this while we were there.

Sand Arch

A family even brought sand toys for their young ones. They must have been here before.

Anyone think we are at the beach?

Then we hiked over to Broken Arch. We thought this was a 3/10 of a mile trail but as we started walking, we could see that this estimate was way off. It was more like 1.6 miles. Nevertheless we made it to the arch. You can climb up this one too and stand on top, but it is pretty rigorous so we didn't try that.

Broken Arch

I was wondering why this was called Broken Arch. If you look carefully at the picture below, you can see a crack developing in the arch. So I guess that must be the reason. There was an arch that broke last August and fell and now it is just a pile of rocks. We saw home video that someone took of it falling during the intro movie at the visitor center on Wednesday. So sooner or later, they all break and new ones develop too.

Did the crack developing in the center give this arch its name?

After that hike, we drove down to a picnic area but it was totally full, so we just ate in the car. There were more arches to see but we were both tired from hiking at altitude. So we just went to the remaining viewpoints and took pictures.

Double Arch
The above arch is called Double Arch. If you look carefully, you can see inside the arch there is another leg to the arch. You can hike to this one too, but it is a bit more difficult.
Carol's blog will have pictures on Windows Arches and others, so be sure to see her entry for today at

When we first got to the park this morning, we were a bit underwhelmed because it seemed we couldn't get near any of the arches and it was looking like it might be too crowded. As our day went on though, we really came to appreciate the views and arches. In fact, while the park is called Arches, there are many other "wonders" in the park to view.

Strange rock formations from a distance

Not sure how these formations ended up with the little rocks on top. This picture was taken from quite a distance using digital zoom, so those little rocks are actually the size of cars!

Rock about to topple?

This is another digitally zoomed picture and you can see the large rock (about 30' tall) carefully perched on top of a rock fin. Sooner or later, it will just topple over, roll down the side, and break into a million pieces.

Balanced Rock

The formation above is called "Balanced Rock" for obvious reasons. This one looks like it could fall next time the wind blows. You can actually hike up near this one for a better view.

Tomorrow, we will visit Canyonlands again, only this time we will go to the Needles section of the park, about 80 miles south of where we are now. Then we plan to leave on Sunday and head to Capitol Reef NP which has its own geological history.

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