Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arches National Park

Yesterday I blogged that I was surprised that the Travel Channel had Arches National Park as the #8 Top Wonder of the West. I opined that all of Utah's National Parks were Top Ten Wonders, in my opinion.

Arches became a National Monument soon after Herbert Hoover became president in 1929. Arches and Capitol Reef National Parks are by far the newest in Utah, coming into National Park status in 1971.

The entry to Arches NP is just a couple miles north of Moab. Moab is a great place to stay while you explore the surrounding area, including Canyonlands National Park and Deadhorse Point State Park and ride the area's world famous mountain bike trails, like the Slick Rock Trail, Gemini Bridges Trail and Porcupine Rim Trail.

When you enter Arches NP you climb a steep road up to the plateau on which the Arches put on their show. As you drive through the park you come to parking lots that are at the trailheads for groups of Arches.

Of the trails, the one to Delicate Arch is my favorite. It's also the busiest. And, when you finally get to the Arch you will not have an easy time of getting a picture with no people in it. Lots of Europeans visit Arches and the other southwest scenic areas. Some of the Europeans, particularly Germans, in my experience, can be a bit rude and obnoxious. And they call us Ugly Americans?

The Fiery Furnace Hike is an excellent adventure. It helps to be in good shape for that one. This is a ranger guided hike. You sign up to reserve a spot and pay a small fee at the ranger station at the entry to the park. It is forbidden to go into the Fiery Furnace without a guide. I saw a pair of Germans try. It got ugly.

(I've blogged details about the Fiery Furnace Hike, with more pictures)

Some parts of the Fiery Furnace hike are a bit tricky. It's not for the weak or faint of heart. Having said that, I have done the Fiery Furnace hike with an overweight person and a person fighting cancer. And they both did fine. Although the overweight person skipped the part where you had the option to crawl through a small tunnel-like opening. I skipped that too. I get claustrophobic.

Landscape Arch is accessed from the last parking lot in the park. Landscape Arch lost a chunk since my last visit. You no longer can walk under the Arch. That is okay with me. It was a bit unsettling to walk under it. It's huge and very thin, over 300 feet long.

Double Arch is on the same trail as Landscape Arch, quite a distance further down the trail. It's worth the hike though. None of the hikes are very strenuous, except for the Fiery Furnace and the hike up to Delicate Arch gains some elevation, but it's so beautiful you don't notice.

You can go to Arches National Park year round. I've been there on New Year's Day with the ground covered with snow. I've been there in October, twice, with perfect temperatures. I've been there in May, with it being a bit hotter. Always bring plenty of water with you, unless there is snow on the ground, then it's not such a problem to keep hydrated.

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