Rolling into Arches I didn’t know what to expect. On purpose, I didn’t look at any photos before getting there. Surprise me. The only exception was what Sergey told us about the Delicate Arch: the symbol of the state on Utah license plates was worth seeing in real life.
We headed straight there, up the long scenic road that led us through unimaginable scenery. Majestic sandstone formations were appearing left and right. Red, blue and pale yellow dominated the palette. We stared in amazement at these natural wonders: arches, pinnacles, rock fins, and balanced rocks defied imagination.
The Delicate Arch hike was a short one from Wolfe Ranch. With perfect timing – the sun was low, preparing to hide behind the horizon – we made our way up to the foot of the main symbol of Utah.
One amazing thing that struck me was the landscape – it is so irregular you lose your sense of level. Horizontal lines don’t seem to exist anymore, and they all curve up, or down or both. It requires some mental focusing, when you walk on the edge or climb the sandstone, to tell your mind to stop freaking out and come to terms with the senses of balance. The scale of that place was immense.
There was a large crowd at the base of the Delicate Arch. People formed a long line to have their rushed photo taken near this majestic formation; all from the same angle: stand in, smile, snap and go. It made me wonder whether they remembered to appreciate where they were. Then somebody proposed to their loved one – she said yes (how could you not?) – people clapped.
Next day we wanted to do a longer hike. Fiery Furnace trail was (and still is, as of March 2021) closed due to COVID-19, so we laid our eyes on the Devil’s Garden.
Located in the Northern part of the park, the trail takes you through a sunburnt landscape and features a couple of impressive arches (Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Double O Arch and Private Arch).
It starts nice and wide, so you can just stroll on. However the deeper in to the Devil’s Gardens, the more climbing and hopping is involved.
At one point we found ourselves walking on a narrow red sandstone ridge with a 25ft drop on one side, and 150ft drop on the other. The gusts of wind were reaching 25mph and were blowing off hats, pants and you off the ridge as well. This was a perfect chance for us to perfect our run-and-crawl hiking method.
With the wind experience we got that day, it was not hard to imagine the formation of the Arches under natural forces. It is also constantly evolving. Old aches collapse and the new ones form. I feel very lucky to have witnessed a glimpse of this spectacular process!
Arches National Park, although comparatively small by Yellowstone & Canyonlands standards – we spent only 1.5 days there – ended up being one of my favorites parks form the entire trip.