day 10: Moab - Arches NP - Moab


.                 Our route on day 10 (lenght: 68 miles / 110 km)

Although we had only a few miles to drive and had the whole day reserved for Arches National Park, we got up early. Because it was Sunday and we expectect that the National Park would be crowded later that day and it could be difficult to get a parking space at the trailheads. After entering Arches National Park the road climbed up very steep. After a few curves we reached the first highlights, the Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers. We were lucky to be that early because the sandstone towers, building a impressive rock alley, were glowing red as fire in the early morning sun.

.                    Sign at entrance of Arches NP, UT

.                         Park Avenue, Arches NP, UT

.       Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers, Arches NP, UT

    .             Park Avenue, Arches NP, UT                        Courthouse Towers, Arches NP, UT                     Courthouse Towers, Arches NP, UT

Arches National Park preserves the greatest density of natural sandstone arches in the world. There are also a lot of unique geological features, including balanced rocks, fins, pinnacles and canyons. The Park entrance is just north of Moab at Highway US-191. The park road climbs up a steep cliff with several sharp switchbacks and then winds for 25 miles through the sculptured red rocks passing close to many of the major features, although much can only be seen by walking along various trails.

Some of the park's highlights:

Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers:
After climbing up the steep cliffs behind the park entrance the road passes Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers. There are big monolithic spires and ridges of rock standing isolated in largely flat desert terrain.

The Windows Section:
Leaving Park Avenue the route then crosses a landscape of petrified sand dunes for 5 miles, before a right turn leads to the Windows Section. Here you see the first major concentration of arches and other formations, which have self-explanatory names such as Double Arch, Cove Arch and Balanced Rock. Everything in this area can be seen either from the road or along short hikes, so all visitors should go at least this far.

Delicate Arch:
After 2.5 miles further along the main road there is another right turn to Wolfe Ranch and the Delicate Arch trail. Wolfe Ranch is an old log cabin built next to a seasonal creek by early settlers in 1888. From the ranch a 1.5 mile foot trail leads across smooth exposed slickrock to the especially scenic Delicate Arch. Perched precariously on the edge of a small canyon, this is the most famous arch in the park and has been adopted as the state symbol, appearing on Utah Centennial vehicle registration plates. As well as the arch, there are magnificent views across the multicoloured rock landscape of the park, and of the snow-covered La Sal mountains towards Colorado.

Landscape Arch:
The park main road continues past several other arches and terminates at Devil's Garden trailhead. Here, a two mile walk leads to 7 major arches - a group of 4 after one mile includes Landscape Arch, the longest in the world.

    . Petra & Nick at Devils Garden Trail, Arches NP                Landscape Arch, Arches NP                        Petra at Devils Garden Trail, Arches NP
Our hiking in Arches National Park

After leaving the Courthouse Towers we decided to drive to the park main road's end at the Devil's Garden trailhead first. Our first hike started at this trailhead. We walked the trail up to Landscape Arch, which is the longest in the world, with an lenght of 306 ft. (93 m). On the way back we saw the first of many chipmunks for that day. Nick was very excited to observe this cute animal only a few meters away. Back to the RV after about 2 hours we were very hungry, so that we take a rest and had our second breakfast with a beautiful panoramic view.

Our next stop was the Wolfe Ranch and Delicate Arch trailhead. Refreshed we started to the trail to Delicate arch. It was already noon and the sun on its highest point of the day. Although it was early spring it was very hot and there was no shadow on the way to Delicate Arch. If somebody plans to go this trail in the summertime, we recommend doing this early morning or late afternoon. But once you reach Delicate Arch, you see that its really worth to take this trail. Together with a lot of other hikers we pickniced at Delicate Arch with a fantastic view to the arch, the rock formations around that site and to the farwaway snowcaped La Sal Mountains. We enjoyed the many chipmunks squirrling around and we made a long rest. On the way back to the RV we found a rock wall with some petroglyphs drawn by ancient people some hundred years ago.

Back to the trailhead, we drove to the Windows Section, another spectacular site with a lot of arches nearby. The name Window Section comes from some arches which are like windows in big rock walls. Due to the first two hikes we had already so many miles walked today, that we only made a short walk from the trailhead to some of the most interesting arches in this area.

    .                Delicate Arch, Arches NP                                 Chipmunk in Arches NP                                       Petroglyphs, Arches NP

Hungry a tired we drove back to the park entrance, left the park and drove back to Moab. There we went to a Denny's restaurant, where we got a good dinner. Reenergized after dinner we went out in Moab to do some shopping and sideseeing. We found some very nice gift shops and some very interesting bookshops there. It was already dark as we got back to the Moab KOA Campground for our next night.

.     Petra at the Windows Arches, Arches NP            La Sal Mountains, view from Arches NP                  The Windows Section, Arches NP

    day 10 travel dates:

    Route: Moab, UT - Arches National Park, UT - Moab, UT
    Miles: today = 68 / total = 1344
    Visiting: Arches National Park, UT & Moab, UT
    Night at KOA Moab, Moab, UT



USA Southwest 2002 ----- Travel ----- Klaus Tueshaus ----- Established: 08-APR-2002 ----- Last Update: 05-MAR-2018