We took an extra day in Moab to visit Arches National Park. In spite of the many times we've been to and through Moab, we'd only visited Arches once - 10 years ago. We'd observed the lineup at the toll booth going to and from the river so we decided to get a reasonably early start. It was approaching 8 a.m. when we stopped at the viewpoint to look down on the highway and the Moab fault.
While the cliffs in Arches look similar to the cliffs lining the Green River at first glance, they are from a very different rock layer and much more prone to erosion and arch formations. (The canoe made the truck easy to pick out in the parking lots!)
Our initial destination for the day was the Delicate Arch hike, but we had to check out the petroglyphs on the way.
The Delicate Arch trail is 3 miles round trip with 480 feet of elevation gain. Early in the hike there was a section with built-up stairs.
And later, a short section with stair carved out of solid sandstone,
but the majority of the trail was across sloping slickrock, complete with occasional trail signs in 5 gallon buckets of rock. The signs made a great spot to take a breather and eyeball where the trail went next. There was one section where the trail was on a (wide) ledge blasted out of the cliff.
My first view of Delicate Arch was through a window a short scramble up from the trail. In spite of widespread reports in 2011 (mostly dated April 1), the arch is still standing!
We took the obligatory selfie to claim the virtual cache,
and did the necessary research to claim the earth cache associated with the arch. Ten years ago, I didn't make the effort to do the hike, but by getting an early start, the temps were comfortably cool and the hike was well worth it.
From a photography perspective, it seems that sunset might be optimal since the arch is backlit in the morning.
On the way back down you could look out across the valley to see where we'd parked.
It always amazes me where junipers can gain a toehold!
I'd hoped to do some other short arch hikes, but we'd spent a couple hours on the Delicate hike and by 10:30, it seemed that every parking spot in the park was full. We drove out to the end of the road at the Devil's Garden trailhead thinking fewer people would be there but it was just as insane, complete with tour bus loads of people,
We made a pass through the Windows section of the park in time to join the traffic jam.
We snapped a few pictures through the truck windows and by noon decided it was time to call it quits. We could hear Edward Abbey flopping around in his grave!
My takeaway was to plan on doing one hike a day, and plan to be at the trailhead by 8 a.m.
We did enjoy our hike and wonderful wood fired pizza at Antica Forma (not cheap, but oh so good!) so the day was definitely not a bust!