Road Travelled: Arches National Park

Moab, Utah

 Canyon Lookout from the bottom basin. 

It was the last lookout stop of the day that took us on the best trail through the park.  A large rounded arch hung in the horizon. A delicate winding path led off into the distance where a rock climber was resting in the middle of the arch. I wanted nothing more than to head up there and do the same, but the farther we got down the path the more unrealistic that vision seemed. The base of the arch was no less than 100 feet above us, and the rock wall below it, flat and smooth. We stood at the base, wondering how anyone could climb up there.  Though I felt somewhat defeated for not being able to join that mysterious person up on that majestic arch, I was glad we had done the hike. Even from the base, it was stunning.

Skyline Arch from trail head. 

We were exhausted by the time we arrived. We had seen so much already on our route from Denver through to Moab, but the view wasn’t one you could resist exploring. We had already passed up trekking the 3-mile un-shaded hike from the trailhead to Delicate Arch, likely Arches National Park’s most famous formation. The guide map said the trail was complete with steep inclines, bare rock and mid-afternoon heat. We weren’t feeling it. We nonchalantly decided to see it from a different view at an upper lookout spot. (Though internally I wondered if I would greatly regret this decision in retrospect). I can now proudly say, I won’t. The last stop was, for us, the ultimate redemption.

 

The park’s elements tear at your attention. You must decide whether to watch the sharp hairpin turns, marvel the rugged cliffs or take a picture before the next rock outcropping shows up on the horizon.

We’ve decided the best way to explain the red rocked peaks is to tell you to envision the ocean floor and imagine that someone has pulled the drain plug.  It’s simply hardened red clay, but the way the rock has eroded draws your eye as you stand marveling at the peaks surrounding you, a minnow resting on the emptied ocean floor.

 

We’ve headed back to our site outside Moab, ready for rest with a new road to travel tomorrow.