"ARCHES NATIONAL PARK" Arches National Park by JeanCooke
Arches National Park Travel Guide: 609 reviews and 1,552 photos
Climbing above the Colorado River valley’s green fields, sparse desert scrub turns dusty and sage-brown. Towering red cliffs rise up only to crumble into spires, balancing rocks and arches. Over eons, wind action and meager water freezes and thaws chipping away bits and pieces of rock like a sculptor gone mad. And I love it all.
Making the best use of our time, a Visitor Center ranger plots our course starting 20 miles at road’s end: Landscape Arch to Delicate Arch to Windows and a ranger talk along Primitive Trail. Stopping frequently for pictures of breathtaking scenery and short hikes I only slow from the heat.
The 4-mile early morning roundtrip hike to Landscape Arch is a lesson in languages since many visitors, especially Europeans, find our Western expanses and the cowboy mystique fascinating. A curious lizard watches the parade of peoples not minding the occasional visitor who stops and prods. Paved and conditioned trails to popular sites allow athletes and physically challenged tourist’s opportunities to see these marvels of nature. Early morning shadows highlight arches against crystal blue skies. Dead trees appear like modern art against red rock backgrounds.
For the best view of Delicate Arch, take a daunting1 hr hike. Pressed for time I take the popular shorter trail and am disappointed picking out the arch in the distance. Wanting a closer look, I hike a steep winding trail as the sun cranks up the heat but Delicate Arch is still too far.
Meeting at Windows area, our ranger plays devil’s advocate, challenging an older couple, a French family and our group to find food, water, clothing, medicine and shelter along the Primitive Trail pretending we are Ancients. Multi-purpose Agave gives healing aloe juice, fiber for shoes, clothes and ropes, shampoo from its roots and tequila when distilled. The ranger explains that desert crust is actually living bacterial communities creating essential nutrients for surrounding plants to slowly grow inches over years. We are careful where we step.
Desert water is scarce, found only in springs or potholes. No water equals no travel or living conditions. Evidence of human habitation in this spectacular area is paltry due to lack of water although some petroglyphs are around.
Ending our hike along red-rock fins, delicately carved arches, gun barrels and double arches, we take off for our next destination.
- Pros:Picturesque red rocks everywhere. Great hiking
- Cons:Summer is too hot.
- In a nutshell:Not to be missed, an esquisitely beautiful place.
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