What an exciting next few days we are going to have! This is a park I've wanted to come see for a while. It's Arches National Park!
We left Salt Lake City right around 11am.
Our travels today are taking us further south and very close to the board of Colorado. It'll only take us about 4 hours to drive from Salt Lake City down to the Moab Utah. The site I'm using to track our travels across the US has run out of letter. Time to change to numbers now!
The sights along the way are quite interesting. A layer of blue rock?
Wow. We're definitely not in Kansas. The landscape is changing quite a bit here. Red rocks were towering above it.
Here's our spot for the next week. It's nothing fancy. Actually it's just OK. The OK RV park will be a place to park the RV, but there's no additional amenities.
Theresa walked me in.
The OK theming here is actually based on the OK Corral (which is actually in Tombstone Arizona). Streets are named for the people involved in that.
The office. There were water fountains that looked like horse troughs.
Can't forget to add our state sticker for Utah. It's an arch!
After settling in, the next day we drove over to Arches National Park. Reservations are required to get in, costing $2 per car, and you get an hour window to come inside. There's only 2 lanes open, and I noticed more people having to U turn than I expected. We're coming at 10am, so there's a bit of a line. It took around 20 minutes to get to the front.
The visitors center was right after the entry and we knew we'd need to stop there. These Junior Rangers need to get their booklets!
A Ranger explained the different steps they'll need to do to earn their badges.
Let's take a look at a map of the park. We're at the south end right now. All the way at the top is Devil's Garden. It was recommended that to avoid the crowds, start at the back of the park and work your way forward. We'll do just that.
One other thing to note is that there's no real facilities in this park. There's toilets in places, but finding drinking water is rare. It's the peak of summer, so we'll need to make sure we're bringing plenty of water with us.
A view from the visitor center parking lot. We're driving up that red rock and heading into the valley.
I'm skipping over the drive to get to the Devil's Garden trailhead because we'll be heading back and seeing many of those sights in more detail. But needless to say, the drive was amazing. I was in awe at the towering structures that popped out of the ground seemingly from nowhere.
One thing that we're battling today is the heat! It is hot with little to no clouds in the sky. The ambient air temperature is over 100F, but those rocks are absorbing all that energy from the sun and warming up even more. A post of the Facebook page for the National Park showed that temperatures and reach 140-160F!
Theresa mentioned that the kids have it even worse than we do. Being shorter, they are a lot closer to the ground and can get overheated even quicker. T pointed out later in the trip that nearly every kid we saw during our hikes was either crying or being carried.
Most of the trail at Devil's Garden was lined with these packed pebble rocks.
But as we got closer to our destination, it turned into a very fine sand. This stuff reminds me of the beaches in California. And it's even deeper (harder to walk through) than the sands in Hermosa.
Here is our destination! Landscape Arch! The longest archway in this park and the fifth longest in the entire world!
Spanning about 290 feet across, Landscape Arch stretches above us.
Rock falls in 1991 and another in 1995 have given the park cause to close off the trail that used to go underneath. We can see remnants of the large rocks that have fallen off below. The arch itself looks so thin! Time will tell how much longer Landscape arch will hold up.
Whew! Definitely need to be drinking water today. I'm carrying a backpack full of thermoses for us.
Near landscape arch are a few other notable archways. To get to them though requires a bit of a climb. We'll need to head up one of these fins to get there.
The fins though are not the nice paved trail that we're used to though. It's a bit of a scramble with consequences if you misstep.
Starting our climb up...
At the top of the first section. Yep, changed our mind. Headed back down. You can see how it would be bad news if you happened to slip on either side.
But you do get a nice view of Landscape Arch from the top.
In the end, we decided to skip going to the further arches. The pathway is just too slippery with these shoes and it's not worth it.
Let me tell you, everyone was happy to head back to the truck. We took an extended lunch while we enjoyed the AC and cooled off.
Our next stop after lunch is Skyline Arch, easily visible from the road as we drove in.
Their Junior Ranger book suggested posing like an arch.
Arches normally form slowly due to erosion, but in 1940 a huge boulder fell out of the middle of Skyline Arch, doubling the size of it overnight! We can see remnants of it now at the base.
One thing the kids loved most about Joshua Tree NP was all the rock scrambling. I'm all for that, as long as we can do it safely. This fin has a nice wedge to it, allowing us to climb up without risking a fall over the edge.
Looking through Skyline Arch from a higher vantage point. Theresa visible down below.
Alli came up with me to explore.
We're pretty high up. Safely though.
Seeing what erosion has done between these two rocks. A tight pathway has formed.
Perfect to squeeze between to get to the next area.
Good observation kids! They found tracks!
Tiny paw prints in the sand. Maybe it's from a Grasshopper Mouse. I did see some furry things scurrying away as we were walking up.
Going back through the tight squeeze.
Finding a new "cave" to explore.
Great job explorers! It's been a hot, but good morning! We'll continue in the next post!