Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

We found ourselves in Moab Utah a week  earlier than a scheduled Mountain Bike Adventure with our son and his boys.  It could have been worse!  We took full advantage and visited these the two National Parks that are in the neighborhood.

One of the realities of how we travel is that we often run into the unexpected.  It this case it was Easter Jeep Week Safari, Moab's largest gathering of off-roaders of the year.  We were lucky to find a campground that had room for us.  There were Jeeps of all types, modified to drive anywhere.  A bonus was unexpectedly visiting friends from Nederland.  Paul and Amy who are THE Adventure Tool Company.  They had set up shop at the Jeep Week Expo, and maintained a brisk business. What fun it was seeing them here.  They have some of the best tool bags and accessories you will find.

We first visited Arches National Park.  Arches is a small and very accessible park, that gets A LOT of
visitors.  The park is unique in that it has the largest consolidation of natural arches in the world.  If you have the time, you can visit over 2,000 of them.  If you can wait a thousand years ago you could see more.

Once through the entrance gate, there are many trailheads, short hikes and scenic drives.  We spent much of our first day there driving around and getting a feel for the place.  We looked at hikes that both of us could do, and others that were more ambitious that I could do on my own.

Landscape Arch

Our first hike took us to Landscape Arch, with visits to Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches.  The Landscape Arch is impressive in that at nearly 300 feet, it has the longest span of any other in the park.  The vistas in this park are everywhere and these photo's don't do them justice.


Fiery Furnace

We also stopped at the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint.  The formation is accessible only by a special hiking permit, or though a Ranger led hike.  I wanted the Ranger led hike, with begin towards the end of April.  It is only one reason to return to the park.

La Sal Mountains through the Salt Valley

Petroglyphs from the 1680's

We got an early start the next morning, so I could take the 3 mile round trip hike to the Delicate Arch.  The hike begins with a stroll past the Wolfe Ranch property and the Petroglyps on the Rock Art Panel.  They are a short detour from the hike, but are a "can't miss" one.  I continued on my own to the Arch, joined only by the several hundred others taking the early morning walk.

Delicate Arch

I arrived at the arch in about 30 minutes of steady hiking.  The rewards were both the hike and the destination.

Arches Sky

Trail to Delicate Arch

Double Arch

Later that day, we hiked around the Windows area, visiting the North and South Windows, the Turret Arch, and Double Arch.

North and South Windows

Turret Arch

 Canyonlands National Park

Islands in the Sky

Friday found us visiting the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park.  The last time I visited was some years ago when I rode the White Rim with a group of friends on Mountain Bikes.  While much different than Arches, the park is no less impressive.

We drove to several viewpoints, followed by a short hike to the Upheaval Dome Overlooks.

Trail to Upheaval Overlook

Upheaval Dome

Sebastian at Frame Arch

Nearly a week later, we again visited Arches with our son and grandsons.  They had joined us for some Spring Break Mountain Bike riding on Moab's Slickrock.

We took a day off to hike, and again visited the Delicate Arch, and a late day hike along Park Avenue.
The Crew at Delicate Arch

La Sal Mountains from Frame Arch

 Court House and Park Avenue

I have also found that the desert, for all it's beauty is prime for getting these stark black and white images.


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