We didn’t see nearly all of the more than 2000 arches in Arches National Park, but we saw many. Arches National Park has the largest concentration of arches anywhere in the world so this is the place to visit if you want to see these spectacular red rock formations carved by erosion. We also saw pinnacles, balanced rocks, and spires as well as fins and monoliths.
With over one million visitors each year, I was hopeful the crowds would thin somewhat in time for our visit in late September. To allow maximum flexibility to spend as much or as little time as we wanted in each place, we didn’t reserve lodging in advance. When we had difficulty finding lodging for the night in and around Moab, I asked a local about tourist traffic in September. She told me that they have two busy seasons, summer and tour bus season, that is, September. So if you want to be sure of a place to stay, make reservations in advance. We had to drive 48 miles to Green River for a room.
I understand why this area is so popular. Arches National Park is a treasure to be sure. But nearby there’s also Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point, and Indian pictographs which I’ll cover in future posts. There are plenty of opportunities for adventure, too, including biking, four wheeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, river rafting, and more. In fact, Moab, Utah calls itself the adventure capital of the U.S.
Arches NP is very accessible. If you have physical limitations, you can see a lot from your auto in as little as 2 hours. But pull over only in the designated parking areas; no stopping is allowed on the roadway. There are also many short and easy walking trails. And for hardier hikers, there are longer, more rugged trails. The visitor guide contains a map showing the trails with a description and the length of each. We stopped at a majority of the viewpoints along the roadway and hiked a number of the shorter trails.
The Three Gossips looked like the three wise men to me and I still want to call them that but you decide for yourself.
Park Avenue is so named because early visitors believed these monoliths resembled the buildings in a big city. What do you think?
Along this same trail, you can see the Parade of Elephants. It does look like a rear view of the herd, doesn’t it? By the way, did you know a herd of elephants is truly called a parade?
Then there are the petrified sand dunes which are composed of sand that has been cemented into rock and later uncovered by erosion.
The most iconic arch is undoubtedly Delicate Arch. It is so revered it’s even featured on Utah license plates. My photo was from a distance and not as impressive as the 65-foot tall arch deserves.
I think my favorite area was Sand Dune Arch at the north end of the park. We especially enjoyed the trail through a slot canyon to get to the arch.
We waited with a small group of other tourists while a couple who were just married at Sand Dune Arch took their wedding photos before we could take pictures. They mentioned that somehow between the parking lot and this arch, the wedding ring had been lost. All of us looked for it but with all that sand, it was hopeless. If you ever visit, keep your eyes peeled.
This glorious nature reserve amazed and inspired us. I definitely understand why it’s one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Arches National Park set a high bar for the other four national parks in Utah.
Based on events in September 2015.