Sunday, September 9, 2018

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located very close to Moab, Utah. This was our third visit and it was just as inspiring as the first time. This year we made a point of doing more hiking. We didn't do the best planning on our first hike as it was pretty hot but still mostly doable. We hiked down a trail called The Park Avenue Trail, one of the first major attractions within the park. It's a one-mile trail that follows the bottom of a canyon at the feet of some of the park’s gigantic and well-known monoliths.

It was too hot to hike the entire trail but we did our best. Brian is dwarfed by the huge rocks and we were both feeling the heat at this point.

We continued on in the car and explored some of the well-known spots that were fairly close to the road, such as Balancing Rock

The Three Gossips with Sheep Rock on the lower right

Turret Arch

and Delicate Arch, the arch that is on the Utah license plate. I took the photo of Delicate Arch with my telephoto lens. The hike to reach the arch itself is a steep 3 mile hike over rock, not something we thought we should do. It's rated as strenuous, and the Park Rangers even had a tent set up at the trailhead to check with people before they attempted the hike, a good idea on sunny days with temperatures in the 90s. Maybe in our younger days when our hips and knees were working a little better ...

There's an area of Arches called Devils Garden which is one of the premier spots in the park. We hadn't hiked any of the trails in Devils Garden in previous years so it was on our bucket list for this trip. After experiencing the heat and crowds on the first day we got smart, got up early, and did most of our hiking while it was relatively cool and not too crowded.

We went to the furthest arch, Landscape Arch, first. It's the longest of the natural arches in the park and has one of the world's longest stone spans. It stretches 306 feet, just slight longer than a football field and is only about 11 feet thick at its center.  In 1991 a 60-foot-long slab of rock fell from the bottom of the arch. There were hikers in the area who heard cracking sounds and were able to flee as a 60 foot long rock slab peeled away from the right side of the arch. When the dust settled there were 180 tons of fresh debris under the rock. It's believed that unseasonably heavy rains the prior ten days caused water to seep into the sandstone pores and the weight finally caused the arch to lose its struggle with gravity. Today there are concerns that the passage of time will cause the arch to weaken further so hikers aren't allowed under the arch anymore. 

After leaving Landscape Arch and heading back to the trailhead, there were some shorter trails to other interesting arches. We hiked to Tunnel Arch

and Pine Tree Arch where everyone (us included) was having their picture taken.

It was a very enjoyable couple of days. We love this area of southern Utah and will continue on our journey to some of our favorite places.

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