8 Things Not To Be Missed in The Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a red rock wonderland! Because of it’s landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets.

Here’s 8 of the things you should not miss on your trip to the Arches National Park…

 

1. Delicate Arch

Image source: Flickr - Howard Ignatius
Image source: Flickr – Howard Ignatius

Delicate Arch is one of the most popular hikes in the park. This is the arch that is on the Utah license plates. The hike is only 3-mile round trip but it is exposed to sunlight for the entire hike and is all up hill to the arch. I recommend this hike for the morning or evening to avoid the sun. It is very enjoyable walking on the slick rock, a nice change from the rocky trails of the northeast USA.

2. The Windows Area

Image source: Flickr - Paul VanDerWerf
Image source: Flickr – Paul VanDerWerf

The Windows area is just past the Balanced Rock parking area. There are four major arches is the area, North and South Window Arches, Turret Arch and Double Arch. The trails are very easy to walk with no major hills or obstacles. All four arches are within one square mile and there is a parking area within a quarter mile of each arch.

3. Double Arch

Image source: Flickr - Marc Soller
Image source: Flickr – Marc Soller

The trails are very easy to walk with no major hills or obstacles. All four arches are within one square mile and there is a parking area within a quarter mile of each arch.

This is a slightly more famous arch because it appears in the third Indian Jones movie. At the beginning of the movie a young Indian Jones catches some robbing a cross in a cave. When he steals it back and comes out of the cave, Double Arch is in the background. When looking at the arch, turn right and you will see a large alcove that looks like it could be a cave, it is not. This is where Indy jumps out of the cave.

4. Wolfe Cabin

Image source: Flickr - Don Graham
Image source: Flickr – Don Graham

John Wesley Wolfe came to this area in the late 1890’s, from Ohio. He was a veteran of the Civil War and moved to the drier climate in the west to help relieve the pain in his leg from a war injury. In 1906, Wolfe built a better cabin with a wood floor which is what you see today.

5. Devil’s Garden

Image source: Flickr - jemartin03
Image source: Flickr – jemartin03

Devil’s Garden is at one end of the scenic road and includes a trail leading to several different arches. To me, the most interesting arch is Landscape Arch which is slightly less than 2 miles round trip from the trail head. Landscape Arch is one of the longest freestanding arches in the world. The arch is 306 feet from base to base, and about 180 feet high. In 1991, a rock slab 60 feet long, 11 feet wide and four feet thick fell from the underside of the arch. The arch is now incredibly thin.

6. Primitive Trail

Image source: Flickr - Steven Damron
Image source: Flickr – Steven Damron

This is a great hike but I cannot recommend this for inexperienced hikers. The trail starts from the Devil’s Garden trail head. Just before you reach Landscape arch, there is a sandy trail that leads to the right. The trail is marked with a wood sign at the beginning. follow the sandy trail for several miles until you reach a dry wash. the direction of the trail is marked with a wood sign. While in the wash you will come to a large pot hole usually filled with water and several logs in it. Try not to use the logs to cross the water because they are unstable. Get a running start and run along the left side, circling to the right. Don’t stop running! This should get you up. You can also skirt the right side very high if you have good hiking boots and you are comfortable using friction to scale steep slick rock.

There is another tricky area as you start to cross the fin’s about 2/3 of the way along the trail. It is steep slick rock that you ascend diagonally. This tends to be very slippery because of dry sand that is deposited by other hikers. I had one student slip here and slide to the bottom.
At the end of the primitive trail you come up to Double O arch. This is a good place to stop for lunch. The trail now heads back towards the trail head, passing several more arches. Make sure you take the side trip to Navajo Arch, it is well worth it.

7. La Sal Mountains Viewpoint

Image source: Flickr - Henrik Johansson
Image source: Flickr – Henrik Johansson

The La Sal Mountains you see here are over 12,000 feet in elevation and are about 20 miles away. In the early days of exploration by horseback, here in the west, people died because they started across the desert and underestimated how far away the mountains were. Luckily that is not a problem in cars but still, carry water and snacks.

8. Turret Arch

Image source: Flickr - Sasha Vasko
Image source: Flickr – Sasha Vasko

It was well worth taking the short spur trail to get a better look at this interesting formation. I liked the little window next to the arch. The trail leading to this arch had a number of steps and was a tiny bit steep; but still pretty easy.
Via: Virtual Tourist

 

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