Over Memorial Day, Samuel was moving back to Michigan from San Francisco so we got a chance to go on another fantastic, jam packed road trip hitting eight National Parks in four days. In my last post we had just finished the busiest day of our trip where we fit in hiking to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park before taking the scenic drive at Bryce Canyon National Park and finishing our day at Capitol Reef National Park. After completing our Grand Wash hike we hopped in our car to drive a bit closer to Arches National Park. Samuel knew from previous experiences that Arches can be incredibly busy, especially since it was a holiday weekend. We made sure to get up early to be in line for the park right after opening. Once in the park we drove straight to Delicate Arch to complete the three mile hike as we knew this popular hike would only get busier as the day progressed.
The three miles to Delicate Arch were by no means leisurely. Make sure to bring plenty of water as there is little shade and the Utah sun is brutal. The sandy rock makes it easy to slip and as you get closer to this remarkable structure you have to walk along several steep drop offs. That being said, it was absolutely worth it! This beautiful arch seems to defy nature at it stands at the edge of a cliff with the whole basin sloping downhill toward the drop off. For some reason I couldn’t seem to maintain my center of balance and sat down every chance I could get as we observed this remarkable landmark. Samuel couldn’t help but laugh at my discomfort as he walked around relaxed. The crowds were comprised of a wide range of ages, with a surprising number of children running around. Fellow hikers lined up orderly to get their photo next to the Arch, which was a nice sentiment but was spoiled with every group taking approximately five photos in different locations at the base, causing the pace to be painfully slow in that heat. Plus, it was impossible to explore or touch the arch due to the photo shoots taking place, as you’d potentially getting in someone’s picture. Samuel and I made the best of it finding unique viewpoints and adventuring away from the conventional spots. Regardless, this structure was breathtaking from any angle that you managed to observe making the walk totally worth it.
Devil’s Garden Hike to Landscape Arch
Samuel and I wanted to fit in one more hike before hitting the road again so after Delicate Arch we drive to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead. We had the goal of reaching Landscape Arch, the largest arch in the world, but maintained the potential continuing on to see the Double O Arch or the Dark Angel, which were a much farther hike. The hike to Landscape Arch was an easy, relatively flat 1.5 miles, however the difficulty significantly increased by continuing on to the Double O Arch, not only due to the increased mileage (4.1 miles round trip) but also for elevation gain and steep drop offs. Landscape Arch itself was just as stunning as Delicate Arch as it also seemed to defy nature but in a different manner. It seemed unreal that this massive arch could withstand its own bulk as it seemed to stretch horizontally. After spending a bit of time soaking in this sprawling arch we chose to turn back in lieu of continuing on, as we had both started to get hungry. On the walk back we were able to observe several critters as a young boy caught a rather large lizard and a huge gopher snake crossed the path right in front of us. I had quite the start as the young girl next to me emitted a blood curling yell and ran back the opposite direction at the firs sight of this lengthy snake. Once we reached the start of the trailhead, we overheard an interesting conversation from a nearby family and found out the park had actually closed around 9:30 am due to reaching their quota of visitors. We were indeed thankful that we got up so early! Unfortunately for this family, they were separated from a second half of their group that chose to go get a late breakfast before the entering the park.
On our way out of the park we stopped by a few of the landmarks we’d initially driven past to reach Delicate Arch. The main one being Balanced Rock. While the angle we captured doesn’t do the structure any justice, from the next lookout down the road, the named rock seems to be precariously balanced in a way that again defies gravity. After leaving the park and grabbing lunch in Moab we continued our journey to our last stop in Utah, Canyonlands National Park.