Amazing Arches of Utah!
The US is one place which offers so much in the way of natural landscapes and luckily National and State Parks have been set up all over the country to protect these natural spaces. While there are many incredible parks throughout America, the state of Utah offers more National Parks than anywhere else.
Canyon Lands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef and Arches can all be found in Utah making for a rock climbers, hikers or nature photographers paradise. I remember entering Arches National Park in the dark and vaguely making out a few large rock formations as we made our way to the campgrounds. I was so excited for the sun to rise the following morning that I hardly slept. It was like being a kid on Christmas eve again!
When the sun rose, we packed up our camper van and checked the park map for the nearest trails. As with many of America’s National Parks, Arches covers a huge area of both easy trails and back country where you can pave your own way.
There are over two thousand natural arches in the park!
With so much ground to cover it is unreasonable to think you will manage to find and count the two thousand arches, so we set out to discover the more significant and popular ones.
The first discovery was not an arch actually but a big rock balanced on a tall rock column. Funnily enough it is actually called balancing rock (very creative).
From there, we headed along a fairly easy trail to find Landscape Arch. This long slender arch defies gravity and threatens to break apart much like it did in 1991. The trail which once lead underneath the longest natural arch in the world at 84.4 meters long, has now been closed although you can still get a good view as the trail leads past it.
Further along this trail many other smaller arches can be found as well as other unusual rock formations like the flutes of rock which jut out of the earth in long, perfectly straight lines. Climbing these flutes, the trail can be lost at times but with the help of cairns (man-made piles of stones) we managed to stay on track and found the impressive Double O Arch.
As with many of the arches names, Double O Arch is pretty self explanatory, being one arch formed directly over another. These arches are huge and the photos don’t really do the scale justice. You really do have to see it for yourself to comprehend it.
The same goes for Delicate Arch. This arch is possibly the most famous and is the arch you see in photos all over. The hike out to this arch is easy and the arch sits in what looks like a natural amphitheatre overlooking the mountains in the distance. It truly is a remarkable place and in the setting it is easy to see why it is the park’s favourite.
Throughout the park there are many other great hikes and if you have the time to explore the back country I’m sure you would find many more interesting arches. While I was there in Spring, I don’t think there is a bad time to see Arches. I have seen some photos of Delicate Arch with snow covering it in winter and it looked amazing, definitely would love to return in the winter months.
If you manage to get to Utah and explore a few of its National Parks I’m sure you will adopt the same slogan my wife and I did: