Monday, August 11, 2008


Sometime earlier this week, Wall Arch at Arches National Park in Utah fell. An arch is a natural formation made by wind and Arches NP was full of them, hence the name. Some parks may have one or two arches, but Arches had them all over. It was like being in a Road Runner cartoon. The dessert really looked like the cartoons, which was a bit of a surprise for me, having grown up in Florida. I visited Arches in the summer of 2000. It was to be the first of future annual hiking trips with my friend D. We were a little over ambitious, this being our first trip and all, though we still had a blast.

I flew into Las Vegas and D and I packed up Big Red, her pick-up, and drove the 452 miles to Moab, UT. I don’t think we realized how long the drive was. I remember it being very late, like 11 pm when we rolled into town. It was too late to find a campground, but we did find a hotel, that looked like log cabin, to crash for the night. The next morning we drove the short trip to Arches. It’s a huge, sprawling park and you can see quite a bit from the comfort of your car. But not us, we wanted to hike! We picked the “Devils Garden” trail where we saw Wall Arch along with Navajo, Partition, Landscape, Double O and Private Arches. Devils Garden was a 7.2 mi hike and it was blistering hot so the name was appropriate. There were cool narrow ledges and fins to walk on and of course, lots of arches. The next day we took a rafting trip on the Colorado. It was perfect after a long hot day of hiking. We spent more time out side the raft, drifting along the gentle current (much calmer than down by the Grand Canyon). It was hot and because we had to wear life jackets, all you had to do was bob along. There were a few rapids, which made for some excitement. Next day we were back at Arches, visiting Delicate Arch. Not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights. Our next destination was Horseshoe Canyon where the promise of spectacular petroglyphs awaited us. It’s in the next park over, Canyonlands NP, but in a remote part not accessible from the main park. It was a bit of drive, off the highway and across unmarked, unpaved washboard “roads.” We met with our first primitive campsite. There was a vault toilet and nothing else. Our previous two nights of camping was at a cozy private campground with a store, pool, showers, etc. so this was quite a change. We were the only people there in the middle of nowhere. Things were fantastic until after sunset. Then we got a little freaked. We didn’t sleep much so we were up bright and early for the hike. A ranger was supposed to be leading a hike that day but we got started before they arrived and only saw two other people the whole day. The next day we spent driving to Bryce National Park where we spent a day or two. (See what I mean about being over ambitious? We now spend each trip at one park.)

5 comments:

nolablossom said...

I have never been to Arches NP so I enjoyed your trip report. I'll have you to ask for advice should we make it to Arches on a future trip (I hope!) Did you get to Grand Canyon NP? Talk about being over-ambitious. M and I on a whim decided to hike to the bottom of the canyon and back up in one day and I swear I almost couldn't make it back up. M had to literally drag me back up the last 1/4 mi as I hung onto his back pack. I would have given a thousand dollars for a ride on a mule back up but alas they were finished trekking that trail for the day.

NOLA Cleophatra said...

Yikes! Grand Canyon top to bottom in one day! You guys are nuts! I've been to Grand Canyon twice, Zion NP (one of my fav) twice. Glen Canyon. A lot of the state parks in that area are really nice too. Smaller crowds and less restrictive. I'll send you a link to my travlogues!

Dr. A said...

Shuddering at the idea of vault toilets!
Thanks for the travelog for us "armchair travelers" or should I say armchair campers?
I hope you have a great time on your upcoming trip!

swampwoman said...

I spent two weeks "stuck" in Moab waiting for a job to open in Colorado - it was still too cold to camp in the Rockies, so I drove the 6 hours west from Denver then southwest through Grand Junction. Hiked Arches practically every day, went to Canyonlands a few times and hiked there, and also went to the Four Corners monument and Mesa Verde. It was quite a spiritual experience being out there for so long, and embracing the solitude, yet it reaffirmed my love for all things swamp and green.

swampwoman said...

oops - forgot to add, thanks for sharing your experience in the desert - it rekindled a fond memory of my own