What a day we have planned! We left for Arches National Park at 10:00 with a picnic lunch and lots of battery life on my camera. (We had asked the manager of the campground if we could stay another day because we wanted to visit Canyonlands--about 35 miles from here. We decided we could cancel a day at our next location at Mesa Verde and still have 2 days there to see everything. She told us she was booked solid and that we couldn't stay that extra day. I guess the schools have their fall break and everything is booked up. Oh well....That's how it goes.) We took the highway into Moab and then to the park entrance. Arches contains the largest number of natural stone arches in the country. When we got to the entrance, there was a line of people waiting to get into the park.
We used our Senior Pass to get in and started our drive through the park. (That $10 lifetime Senior Pass is worth its weight in gold! You get into any national park or national monument area for free. It save you $25 or 30 each time.) The road climbs all the way up the side of the mountain to the plateau. Some of the road goes very close to the edge with no guardrails.
We could see for miles today. As we made our way through the park, we stopped at viewpoints and made short hikes to see arches and other interesting rock formations. Our map told us these were the Three Gossips.
This is Sheep Rock and the Tower of Babel.
Our next viewpoint offered a view of the Petrified Sand Dunes.The road paralleled the Great Wall and Rock Pinnacles for 9 miles. We could see Balanced Rock from a distance and I was anxious to get up close.Balanced Rock looked different from each side as we took the 1/3 mile easy hike around the base of the rock.
We saw some climbers gearing up and getting ready to do some rock climbing. Just around the corner, we say more climbers that were already climbing up this rock face.
The Windows Section of Arches is the most accessible in the park where you can easily walk to 4 arches grouped together--Double Arch, Turret Arch, North Window, and South Window. We took our time walking around there--an easy .7 miles trail to the 4 arches.
This is a panoramic view of the arches at the Windows Section.
Also in the Windows Section was a formation of rocks called the Garden of Eden. It needed a little more imagination on our part to connect the rocks to the Garden of Eden, but it was beautiful just the same.
We continued on the road to Panorama Point where we got a great view of the Dry Mesa and areas beyond.
This view of the rock formation off in the distance was so interesting.
Our next stop was in Cache Valley where we wanted to get a view of Delicate Arch. We didn't have the time today to make the 3 mile, 2-3 hour hike up to Delicate Arch, so we opted to view it from the Lower Viewpoint. Bob wasn't too keen on doing the last part of that hike where you have to traverse a narrow rock ledge for the last 200 ft. There was an Upper Viewpoint that took you a little closer that we could have walked to, but my zoom did the job.
We could see people walking up the "slick" rock surface, taking the longer walk up to the Arch. (It's called "slick" because when it rains it does get slippery.) The people looked like ants.
At the base of the trail is the Wolfe Ranch. At the ranch are the weathered remnants of a homesteaders log cabin that settled in the area years ago.
We ate our lunch on the tailgate of the truck enjoying the sun and the view around us. While we were enjoying our lunch, we got a call from the campground office saying that she had a cancellation for our site and that we could stay longer if we wanted. We were excited that it worked out for us. Are we lucky, or what? Another mile or two up the road, was the Fiery Furnace.
In the distance we could see Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch.The next turn off was for viewing Sand Dune Arch tucked way back in the rocks. It was totally hidden from view.
We reached the end of the road at Devil's Garden. It was an interesting walk through the rock "fins" to see Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. There were 4 more arches to see on this walk, but the total walk was a little over 7 miles and we weren't prepared to do that today.
On the ride back, we caught a view of Skyline Arch. We have to remind ourselves to always look back because you never know what beautiful things you will see.
They say there are 2000 arches in the park. Many must be hidden deeper in the park and unseen from the road. We saw quite a few arches today just driving the park road. They are all distinctive and awesome! We also saw some bike riders riding up and down the mountain. How crazy! I can't imagine riding up 2000 ft. or coasting down, hoping your breaks work.
The ride back down to the Visitor's Center and entrance took us 30 minutes from the very end with no stops. Many of the rock formations looked so different coming from the other direction.
We drove back to Moab and stopped at Zax's for a real beer.
Utah sells 3-2, but the bar sold regular PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon made in Milwaukee) in a can for $2.
After stopping for a few groceries, we headed back to the campground. Auggie was happy to see us, so we all spent some time outside together. We had dinner and did our evening walk. It wasn't as chilly as last night as the sun was setting behind the mountains.