Today was the day I was going to visit Arches National Park. The previous day I had visited Bryce Canyon National Park and this morning I got up to drive the 4 hours from Panguitch where I had stayed, to spend the afternoon in Arches.
Arches National Park was established on 12 April 1929 as a National Monument and became a National Park on 12 November 1971. It was the 36th National Park to be established.
I was visiting in mid September so luckily the park was not too busy. I managed to get straight in with my $80 annual pass, at busy times you can be queuing for a long time to get in. If you don’t have an annual pass then it will cost you $25 per vehicle.
My first stop was the visitors centre so that I could find out exactly what there was to do in the park and what I had time to fit in, in my 36 hours there. After I then stopped at Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trailhead, from here you can do a 1 mile walk down to The Organ. I did not do this though, as you need to walk the same way back to get your car and I had quite a bit I wanted to fit in before the park closed.
The view of the court house towers on the right of the picture below is amazing.
I then drove down to La Sal Mountains Viewpoint. On the picture below, on the right you can see The Organ. You can also see Three Gossips on the left.
Next I decided to drive to Balanced Rock. Here is a very easy 0.3 mile walk around the rock which is 39 metres tall!! It does look like the rock on top is balancing but it is actually connected to the rock below which is eroding faster that the 3,600 tonne Sandstone rock above it. Eventually this rock will no longer be able to “balance” and will fall to the ground like it’s smaller sibling, chip off the old block!!
Next I drove to Double Arch and parked up, there is a huge car park here as from here you can also do the North & South Window. It is an easy 0.5 mile round trip to Double Arch and probably the best views are from a little further away. It is the tallest arch in the park at 34 metres and is created by the sand being blown by the wind and cutting the rock.
I then walked over the The Windows section, where you can see the North and South Window. It is only a 1 mile round trip and this includes the hike around the back of them. Luckily for me there was a well located rock that I could perch my camera on, to get the shot below, with me and both windows!!
Found a man for the next one!!
As it was getting late, I called it a day and headed into Moab to check into my hostel and get some dinner. It’s a nice little town with lots of restaurants and supermarkets and a great location for exploring both Arches NP and Canyonlands NP.
The next day I was up early and into the park to do some hikes. I decided first to see the Delicate Arch, it is the largest freestanding arch in the park. As the road to the lower viewpoint was closed the only option to see it was to do the 3 mile roundtrip hike. I was planning on doing this hike so for me it was fine, though it did mean that it was really busy as people who wanted to see Delicate Arch had no option but to do the hike. It’s quite a difficult hike as you have to hike up a rock (you can just make out the people hiking up on the picture below) but well worth it to see probably the most famous place and for me the most spectacular place in Arches National Park.
Next I drove to Devil’s Garden Trailhead. Here it is probably the busiest for parking and I stopped off and had a picnic after abandoning the car as near to the car park as I could get.
I first decided to go to Sand Dune Arch, you had to squeeze between some rocks to get there, it’s only 0.3 mile round trip so a nice easy walk to do and a great arch to see.
I then walked to Broken Arch through the meadow and as you can see the Arch is not actually broken.
Landscape Arch is the longest arch in the world at 88 metre. You used to be able to hike underneath it but in 1995 a huge section on the right hand side broke away narrowly missing some visitors to the park and now there is a fence keeping you away. It’s not known whether this means that the arch will soon fall away and no longer be there or whether now there is less weight it will be around for a few more hundred years. I guess time will tell. To hike here it is about 0.8 mile walk from the trailhead, there is a gravel path so it is quite an easy walk and I saw lots of people that hiked to this point.
From Landscape Arch you have a view of Partition Arch but the hike to get up to it, is slightly more difficult as you have to climb up these rocks. It’s quite high up and in certain places you need to use your hands and feet. It is well worth it as the view from up there is amazing and you can also sit just through the arch and read your book or admire the views.
On the hike up to Partition Arch you can also see Navajo Arch. After a little rest and reading my book it was back down the path and on to the final set of Arches. It is 2.1 miles from the trailhead but it takes quite a while to walk as at times you have to climb up rocks and walk along some narrow ledges. The views you see are amazing though and if you are used to hiking then not too difficult a hike.
Finally I reached Double O Arch which is spectacular, it is huge. It is 21 metres long and gets its name from the huge arch at the top and smaller arch below, both in the shape of an O.
There are signs advising you to keep away from the arches and not to climb through, but it is possible with a little bit of help to climb through the first “o” to get to the other side and hike up the rock behind it and get this amazing view.
After this I hiked up to Dark Angel and back around the primitive trail to see Private Arch and then back to the trailhead.
Arches is a beautiful park and if you want to see everything then you need between one and a half and two days there. There are some great hikes and it is well worth spending some time there.
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