One of my favorite movies has a line, “go west young man, go west”. And here I was in the middle of Utah. We flew into Salt lake City, rented a car and headed south to Moab. Every part of the journey was refreshing and actually exhilarating. The openness of the countryside set my mind into motion with new thoughts, fresh dreams, and fun imaginations of the history of the old west. And then like stepping through an enchanted window of mystery we entered the Arches National Park.
Arches National Park
As we drove across the desert floor and began to see the distant towers of the majestic Arches National Park, we could scarcely continue the journey without stopping and experiencing the beauty of 360 degree silent surround-sound.
The Arches National Park covers 76,679 acres of land on the Colorado Plateau. Located near Moab, Utah it rises to 4,653 feet at the visitor center, and at the highest elevation 5,673 feet. Being in desert country you may expect temperatures in the low 90’s during hot summer months and cool 50’s in the evenings. In Arches Park the temperature variations are the most dramatic of any of the 5 parks in Utah. Carry water – up to a gallon per person as you hike the park.
Hiking the Trails of Arches National Park
There are specific Arches throughout the park that are easily seen from a drive-through. Others may be seen only by hiking along the trails.
Balanced Rock is probably one of the most unique formations in the park. It stands a total of 128 feet with the balanced rock rising from its base 55 feet.
The Arches or Windows Within the Park
North Window Arch featuring beautiful flowers
North Window Arch featuring weathered fallen tree
Pine Tree Arch – also labeled “End of Trail”
I think this particular “window” was one of my favorite spots. There was something so isolated, quiet, serene, and worshipful in standing there in this doorway looking out across the miles of beauty. I discovered the beauty to cause a cessation to my worries, cares and thoughts beyond the very moment of being in this particualar spot at this particular time. I recalled a Bible verse from Proverbs where wise admonishments were being listed. “Where there is no vision the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18). Though there are many applications to this grouping of words, I felt they meant something specific to me in that moment. As I stood there that beautitiful afternoon, I felt the words were telling me to look beyond my everyday chores, commitments, responsibilities and “to do” lists. To dream bigger dreams, have bigger goals for my life, and look out further into the future with what I desired to accomplish with the remainder of my life. Though it is labeled end of trail, I believe my thoughts on that day as I looked through that window said to me, Beginning – beginning of a new way of thinking and participating in life.
On the day we visited this arch, the trail was closed because portions of the arch had begun to crumble. It was a beautiful day to see the red of the rock formations highlighted upon a canvas of clear blue skies.
Of the nearly 2,000 arches in the park, Delicate Arch is probably the most widely known around the world. Thousands come each year specifically to see this amazing natural geological structure. It can be seen from a parking lot from approximately one mile. To truly enjoy its beauty will require a nearly 3 mile hike. The trail is more treacherous than many realize because of the heat, elevation, and the steady uphill climb rising 480 feet from start to finish. Rangers rescue many hikers on this trail each year because the hikers failed to consider personal physical limitations or lack of drinking sufficient water. Plan ahead and pay attention to your own abilities.
Some of my Favorite Views in and Around the Park
Quiet Inviting Picnic Areas
About the Park: There is an entrance fee of $30 per vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, or $15 per person. The park is open year round 24 hours a day. The heaviest traffic is between March and October making parking sometimes difficult.
Of the top five national parks in Utah, I have only visited Arches National Park. I can’t wait to visit Canyon Land, Capitol Reef, Zion, and Bryce Canyon. Have you been there? Which were your favorites? I’d love to hear of your adventures so I can better plan my own.