We arrived in Moab in the early afternoon and checked into the hotel. We had passed the entrance to the Arches National Park on the way into the town, and after checking the website, found that it was open 24 hours a day. As we were only staying for two nights, and we also wanted to see Canyonlands, we decided to have a quick lunch and head out to the park.
It was quiet, not too much traffic and we headed up the winding road past rock climbers who were abseiling down sheer red rocks, hundreds of feet high. We drove through the park, checking out the best spots for viewing and enjoying the vast expanse of the sandstone rock formations. As the park was open 24/7 we decided to head back to the hotel, rest and have an early dinner, then head back out to the park to do some star gazing!
As darkness fell, we checked we had blankets and coats and set off for the park again. We had found a good, high, flat spot to park and turned off the engine and lights and gazed upwards. Clouds! Quite a few of them blowing down from the north. They were smoke-filled clouds coming from northern Utah, and Colorado where wildfires were on the rampage. We waited patiently and eventually there was a clearing and as our eyes adjusted to the light, or lack thereof, we saw hundreds of twinkling stars for a few minutes. Marcel even saw a shooting star! After an hour or so, we decided to head back, get an early night, and try to get to the park as close to sunrise as possible.
Up and out early we arrived at balanced rock, a large vertical rock with a knobbly top that looked like it was hanging on for dear life. One little push seemed like it would send it toppling. We took the paved walk around the rock, looking up and seeing it from all angles, revealing its many different shapes. We walked a little further to Turret rock and our first set of arches, shining like gold in the early morning sun. After taking many pictures we hopped in the car and stopped further down the road to Double Arch. This was set back off the road a little and after a ten-minute sandy walk we arrived under the two arches. They were much bigger than we had first thought and I volunteered Marcel to climb up the steep sides so I could get a picture of him under both arches. I lost sight of him for a while, but he finally reached a good spot. Coming down was a little hazardous though and again I lost sight of him behind huge boulders; buy he made it! We moved on to an area called The Devil’s Garden and hiked about 4 miles in total, on hot sandy soil, and between the huge orange rocks, past the vast Landscape arch that looked like it was about to snap in two, and after, climbed a large, steep rocky escarpment to rest. We sat under the arches which were all shades of ochre, orange and white and were a stark contrast to the clear, deep blue sky. These monumental arches, fins, spires and rocks which had been there for thousands of years, stood proud and silent making us feel very small and very blessed that we were able to stand among them for a short period of time.
Next stop – Canyonlands.
Click on the Photo Below to be taken to a Larger Gallery.