The iconic Delicate Arch, on every license plate in Utah is located here. We crossed off this item on our bucket list...but more about that later!
We spent two busy days here. The first day we did the lower section and were surprised by the numbers of tourists. Granted, it was a Saturday, but each time we stopped to look, walk, or hike, it took at least two times around the lot to find a space to park. It didn't help that most of the elongated RV spots were taken by cars.
Driving through the park, the beauty of Arches comes in sections. We mostly hiked "Windows" on day 1, which is in the lower section. Passing monoliths called "the Organ" (looks like pipes), Courthouse Towers, Parade of Elephants, and my favorite, the "Three Gossips" kept not only our imaginations going, but our cameras as well.
We hiked several small trails leading up the Windows, three separate arches (north, south, and Turret). We got a little ambitious on the way down, taking an off the beat path called "primitive path". Got a bit lost, and were about to turn back, but finally saw other hikers who led us in the right direction. Following the "cairns", well known to most hikers, but not to us neophytes would have been helpful. But we wouldn't have seen both north and south Windows from the other perspective, so it was well worthwhile.
Since this extended hike brought us to the later, very hot afternoon, we made our way out of Arches, but not before passing another famous "sculpture" called "Balanced Rock". The trail toward it was closed (among the many closures due to construction and road work in the park), but it can easily be seen from the road.
Side note: our RV park, Moab Valley RV Resort is, so far, the nicest we've stayed in. Pool and hot tub after hiking is wonderful!
Monday, (after traveling to Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park on Sunday
), we geared ourselves up for climbing to Delicate Arch. This was, by far, the hardest hike that Wendy has ever done. (Jim says that Hidden Canyon in Zion was more difficult.) Thank goodness for hiking poles!
The trail itself is ONLY 3 miles round trip. However, most of the way is 480 feet uphill-around rocks, through steps built into the earth, two huge very steep slickrock slopes, and a 200 foot rock ledge the last bit that only had room for single file walking.
But...it was worth it. Delicate Arch is iconic for a good reason. It is set against the backdrop of a beautiful valley. People took turns walking down the slippery rock to take pictures inside the Arch--Jim braved it. We'll, someone had to take pictures!
At this point, we were about halfway up the park. Had lunch in our RV, and a brief rest, and then followed the road to the top, making a few stops along the way.
One of the most popular ranger lead hikes is to Fiery Furnace--a labyrinth of sandstone canyons. Due to the construction throughout the park, you cannot sign up for this in advance, and the tours were all filled. Probably a good thing, we didn't have enough energy for a second major hike. Interesting rocks however. We'll have to come back to see what the inside looks like.
Saw a few other arches--a beautiful one called Sand Dune Arch, and Skyline Arch, both short hikes in. Unfortunately, as it was getting a bit late, we did not take the longer hike in to Landscape Arch. (Postcards will have to do).
Final note: we rewarded ourselves with a nice dinner at a lovely steakhouse. A drink and good food later, we got back to our campground for a good nights sleep. Arches is incredible!!