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Arches National Park. Utah

We started our trip on the 18th of August 2007 from Vancouver, British Columbia.  Rainbow, WashingtonOn that first rainy day we planned to get as close as possible to the Arches National Park located in southwest Utah, 236 miles south from Salt Lake City. Our plan to drive almost 1200 miles in one day failed. We were only able to get to Burley, Idaho -- 770 miles, and over 11 hours away from home. We stopped in a motel and decided to wake up early to make it to the park before sundown. After morning coffee at a local coffee shop we were back in our car driving towards our first destination. 400 miles and 7 hours later  we arrived at Arches National Park at 4.30 pm.

We were happy to arrive there before sundown. It was still very hot, with about 100F/38C, but that is what you get when you travel there in August! Actually from May to October you get day time temperatures of above 100F and night time temperatures of 30F to 50F. Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

$10 fee covers your entry to the park for 7 days. You also receive a free map and a guide with description of major viewpoints, trails, best times to take pictures of specific arches, and other interesting park information.

The best time for taking pictures is in the morning and late afternoon when all the arches, rocks, towering spires, pinnacles, and balance rocks look their best (deep red color). There are over 2,000 catalogued rock arches ranging in shapes and sizes. It took over 100 million years of erosion to create these masterpieces of natural art. The look of the arches is constantly changing due to water, extreme temperatures and underground salt movements, so what you see today may not be there tomorrow.  Of course it takes years for major changes but in 1991 a 60 feet long rock slab fell down from the underside of Landscape Arch, and according to park rangers, you do not know how long this arch is going to be around.

18 miles long paved road runs through the park allowing travelers to see all the major viewpoints. For those in a hurry, or those who can not bare the hit, driving through the park gives only one glimpse of this magnificent place created by nature.  If you have more time and the desire to get close and personal with the arches, there is no other way but getting out of the car and hitting the trails which start at each viewpoint's parking lot.  Just don't forget taking plenty of drinking water (at least 1 gallon per day per person) and a hat with you!

After entering the park you arrive at Park Avenue, followed by Courthouse Towers, Three Gossips and Sheep Rock. Then the road passes by Balanced Rock and turns to the section of Windows (North Window, South Widow, Turret Arch). The next stop is Delicate Arch Viewpoint, followed by Fiery Furnace and at the end of the road you will find Devils Garden. More pictures of Arches

We stopped in all viewpoints and walked the trails of Windows, Delicate Arch and Devils Garden. The entire time spent in that park that day was just one magnificent experience.

We just had one more day for Arches National Park so the next day we chose  to hike to Landscape Arch (longest Arch in Arches National Park, measuring 306 feet from base to base) and Double O Arch.  Normally we aren't early birds, but after experiencing the heat of the first afternoon we decided to wake up very early the next morning to really enjoy our hiking.

We spent the night in Moab, 5 miles south from Arches National Park. At 7 am of the next day we were already at the Devils Garden Trailhead the starting point for our hike.  The distance to  Landscape Arch is about 1.5 miles or 2.6 km (round trip) and it is considered an easy trail. We decided not to go back but to hike through a little bit more strenuous trail to Double O Arch. The views are breathtaking so we took some time to sit and enjoy this part of Devils Garden.

At 11.30 am we were back at our starting point.Double Arch, Arches National Park, Utah I was so happy that we started our hike so early as the temperature was already 66F/19C at 8 am and it went  up to  95F/35C by 11:30am.  I was sorry for people starting their hike at that time. I highly recommend very early start, and with plenty of drinking water.

We wanted to sign up for a hike to Fiery Furnace (mazelike labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons) but the ranger-guided hike was only available at 4.30pm  and we just did not feel like waiting for the next 5 hours for a 3 hour hike. I have seen some beautiful photos and would recommended this hike for people who have more time to spend at the park.  It is actually a very popular, guided hike with a rather limited space, so I advise registering for it a day or two in advance.  There are only two hikes a day -- one at 9am and the other at 4:30 pm.

 Landscape Arcj, Arches National Park, Utah

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