We enjoyed Arches National Park over two days. The first one we spent 5 hours hiking and trying some off road experiences. The second day we came in for most of the afternoon following a morning exploring the bike path along the Colorado River. There was a day in-between, which we spent at Canyonlands and my next blog post will cover that. Arches now requites timed entry planned in advance. Over a month ago we learned this and signed up for 3 days entering at Noon (the first time available on those days). This has been done to resolve problems with overcrowding at the trail heads and view sites (and extensive lines entering the park). It seemed to work well.
|One of the windows arches, I think Turret|
|The trails often had stone steps and were easy|
to follow, but often steep (I only mind the ups)
|I think this is the North and South Windows.|
View Sites and Trailheads branch off from the main road throughout the park. We stopped first at Courthouse Towers and Balance Rock where we did a short hikes. Then we did some longer hikes at the Windows Section to see the North & South Windows and Turret Arch. Finally we were on to the Delicate Arch where there were 3 choices. We did the first viewpoint and then up (and up steeply) to the second viewpoint.
|It's impossible not to see figures in the stone pillars and mesas. These three women in their long skirts are marching along the cliffs|
|And here we saw Nefertiti in the center left!|
That finished off our hiking for the day so we tried three 4 wheel drive roads. The first was a short bumpy one down the Cache Valley - not bad. The second, a long road down the Salt Valley, was really fairly easy, a lot like a dirt road in Vermont. Buoyed by this success we tried a "rough road" (the Eye of the Whale rod) which they recommended you only do north/south, which was the direction we headed. It quickly turned into a very narrow heavily rutted road, at that point in a deep ditch. There was no place to turn around and then - two jeeps approached us from the opposite direction! Yiech! They stopped and we realized that the downhill vehicle is responsible for getting out of the way. This meant crawling the truck up the side of the ditch. The first jeep pulled up to us and the driver was just inches away from me (we had pulled in our rear view mirrors). He informed us that they had had to turn around due to impossible conditions. He recommended a place a little further down where we could turn around. We did, just barely. What a relief to exit that road! Reading the descriptions of the road later we found that that beginning section was the hardest and if we'd gotten through that, the rest would have been doable.
|That's Scott climbing up the steep trail at Delicate Arch|
|This was the easy off road trail, down Salt Valley, that led us to try the harder one|
|The bike path along the Colorado. As you can see it was quite cool early in the morning.|
|We've been seeing the Colorado all along our trip through Arizona, Utah and now Colorado|
Our second day we started off exploring the bike path down the Colorado River on our e-bikes. This is a paved easy bike trail, very scenic. It was perfect for us as we're still a bit nervous on our bikes. Both of us have had falls and are now very careful. Then we went back into Arches for another drive through the park and a hike to the Double Arches in the Window Section. This was a lovely route and finished off the day for us.
|Closer up you can just make out the tiny figures in the center. It gives you an idea of the size here.|