Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cross Country Adventure - Day 11 - Arches National Park

Our plan to spend a full day in Arches National Park had to be quickly revised when we discovered how hot it was in Moab. With temperatures heading towards 100°F, we decided instead to start early and be out of the park by early afternoon.

The towers of Park Avenue

It turned out to be a good decision because it meant we were able to do a 2 mile hike through the canyon from the Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trailhead (so called because it was thought to resemble the buildings along Park Avenue in Manhattan) to Courthouse Towers and back before it got too unbearable.

Courthouse Towers

The hike took us down a set of steps onto the canyon floor and then along a roughly made trail which snaked beyond the rock formations in the photo.

The rocks provided some early morning shade

The rocks were stunning in their enormity and random shapes. 

Just how big were they? Big enough to make you feel insignificant. 

Some looked like ruins of fortresses or other stone age buildings.

Looks more like a wall than a mountain to me!

Surely, the cornerstone of an old building?

Could almost be a fortress, but no, it's solid rock
While some looked like fossilized people.

This one is actually called "The Three Gossips"

And was it just my eyes, or does this look like ancient inscriptions on the rock face?

ancient inscriptions?

Most of the time on the hike we were completely alone, the silence adding to the sense of wonder induced by the surroundings.

Were we alone because we were crazy to do the hike at all given the heat? Turned out that wasn’t the reason because as we climbed back up the steps on our return we passed lots of people just setting out, including some carrying babies! Rather them than me!

We made a hasty retreat to the air-conditioned car and set off on an 18 mile drive around the park which took in all the major sights, at which points we would leap out of the car to get a closer look and take a few photos as quickly as possible.

First stop was at Balanced Rock, a large precariously balanced rock which looks as if it might topple any minute.
Balanced Rock

The rock is expected to fall one day according to the park notes. Putting our faith in the park rangers estimates that it wasn’t likely to be any time soon (like that day) we followed the path around to get a closer look.  It looks quite different from the side view – though not much more reassuring. You have to admire nature’s sculpting abilities.

Balanced rock from another angle

Then it was on to the arches. The park contains over 2000 natural arches, many of which can be seen along the drive route.

Others are more deserving of a closer look. This includes the North and South Window and the Turret Arch. For these we braved the heat and got out of the car.

The North Window is huge and requires a short uphill climb from the parking lot to see it close up, but it is so wide that it offers plenty of shade once you get there.
my daughter enjoying the shade!

From the arch you get a wonderful view of more of nature’s artistic handiwork in the Parade of Elephants. 
These rocks are called the Parade of Elephants

The South Window is smaller but just as impressive. 

As is the Turret Arch. 

A climb up to the base of the Turret Arch offers a good view of the North and South Windows. It's a bit of a scramble to get up, even worse to get back down!

View of North and South Windows from Turret Arch 

And finally, there is the Delicate Arch, the most famous of them all as it is the one most commonly used in promotional material. 
Delicate Arch from a distance 

By the time we got there the heat was so intense that we made do with viewing it from the Lower Viewpoint, just yards from the parking lot. The Upper Viewpoint is half a mile on a “moderately difficult, rocky uphill route” – not something we were willing to tackle despite the short distance.

It definitely was not the best time of year to visit the park, but it had seemed an opportunity too good to miss and it was well worth seeing despite the restrictions we had to place on ourselves.

The photos don’t do it justice and it’s hard to describe something so magnificent that it leaves you speechless.  The park certainly ranks near the top of the most wonderful sights I’ve seen.

Mel writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. For more information about her books visit her website, or sign up for her newsletter at  


  1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Mel. Nature is beautiful ~ even a bunch of rocks!

  2. And I think what makes it even more awe-inspiring is how old those rocks are! Makes the human life-span seem insignificant by comparison. Though sadly, we do seem to be able to do a lot of environmental damage in that short time.

  3. Fabulous photos, Mel! Another fantastic park--lucky you :-)