Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arches National Park

At 76,679 acres, Arches National Park is much smaller than nearby Canyonlands National Park, but it still covers a lot of area. As you might guess from the name, the principal feature of this park is the large number of arches found throughout the park.

The park is easily accessible from Moab, being located just off US 491 about 4 or 5 miles north of town. The Visitor Center is visible from the highway, in fact. (See map)

After passing through the gate, the road weaves up the side of a canyon wall to reach the top of the rim.

Visitor Center lower left. Road winds up the canyon side from lower left to upper right.
Once atop the rim, roads are pretty easy. There are a couple of ascents/descents elsewhere in the park, but nothing like the entrance.
The rock formation on Donna's right with the three tops is called the Three Gossips. At her right elbow is Sheep Rock. To her left is Tower of Babel and The Organ.

There is awesome scenery everywhere in this park
Distant view of the area called The Windows Section. On extreme left is the Garden of Eden. Look carefully and you'll see 2 arches on right side of picture. These are The Windows.
Balanced Rock
The South Window
North Window
Turret Arch

Indian Petroglyphs at Wolfe Ranch
The Fiery Furnace
The park is more than just arches. There are vast panoramas and many unique natural features worth visiting throughout the park. Camping is available at the Devil's Garden area. There are trails for hiking and dirt roads for off-road vehicles, but these do not seem to be used to the degree they are in nearby Canyonlands National Park.

This is a busy park, as is Canyonlands. When we entered, two lanes were open for guests to enter, each about 4 or 5 vehicles deep when we were there about 9:00 AM. Throughout the park, there are numerous overlooks and other viewing areas. The first one we came to --the area called Park Avenue -- was full, so we were unable to stop. Parking at these sites is at a premium.

Toilets in the park are unisex pit toilets. At the Windows, there were only 2 toilets and each had a line of 5 or more people.

Tour buses are prevalent throughout the park. At places such as the Windows, Balanced Rock, and Delicate Arch, the trails were full. Bicyclists were pedaling the roads throughout the park. People are everywhere.

This park is truly a natural treasure. Short half-mile to 2 or 3 mile round-trip walks allow visitors to get up close to the numerous arches and other formations. Allow a full day to see everything. Bring plenty of water and pack a lunch as these are not readily available in the park. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

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