Arches National Park - Devil's Garden
Feb 28, 2009
Wow! There is a huge difference between visiting Arches in early March and visiting Arches in mid-April. I couldn't believe how crowded it was. Allison and I got an early start from Monticello on Saturday morning with hopes of securing a campsite in Arches. No luck! We got to the entrance station around 9am and the campground was already full. Apparently, people line up at about 7:30 in the morning for a spot. But it was no problem. Allison and I decided to try some BLM campgrounds on the Colorado River just outside of Moab, and ended up finding a spot right on the water, at the first campground we went to. It was a nice spot. On the opposite side of the river a sheer, massive, red canyon wall towered over us. After leaving some odds and ends on the picnic table, we drove back to Arches and the Devil's Garden trail. It's a five mile round trip hike which leads to several different arches. We couldn't believe how many cars and people there were. Allison and I laughed as a little kid plugged his ears and looked horrified as we pulled up in the loud bus. There were so many families! Large families... kids and babies... uncles, cousins, aunts... each and every woman had a baby in a backpack, a baby in her belly, and a toddler in each hand. That's only a slight exaggeration. It was a beautiful hike, but it was hard to enjoy it with so many people on the trail. It felt like we were in a parade. I tried to relax and just enjoy where I was, but I was so annoyed by how obnoxious and inconsiderate some of the people were. People would just plop down and eat lunch right in the Arch everyone is hiking to see. The worst example of this was at Navajo Arch. Not only was there a large group eating right in the arch, but there was a young dad changing his baby's diaper right at the main attraction, in front of all the people who were eating. Looking back, I really wish I had taken a picture of the whole scene. It was so unbelievable. I think the picture would have been hilarious. I really think the NPS in Arches needs to designate viewing areas that you cannot go beyond. A note on our pictures: They don't represent how it really was. They were taken during brief, fleeting, lucky moments when no one else was in the frame.From the Devil's Garden trail we drove to the Delicate Arch trail, a 3 mile round trip hike straight up some red slickrock. I think by that time, Allison and I were used to the crowds, and hiking up, we were both impressed by how many people, young and old, in-shape and out-of-shape, were going for it, and climbing up to see the arch. When we got there, there was a ton of people. A line of people were waiting to get there picture taken under the arch. It was a steady stream. As soon as one group left the picture frame, another was in. Allison and I were sitting quite a ways back on a ridge with another crowd who were all hoping to get a picture of the arch without anyone in it. They eventually shouted for the people in line to wait and back up so we could take our pictures. The hikes were both beautiful. I think we just need to chose a better time to go next time, in order to fully enjoy them. We returned to our camp on the Colorado, grilled up some burgers, had a campfire, and relaxed. We watched as a dinner booze cruise made it's way upstream in the dark, while a truck followed beside it on a nearby road and shined giant spotlights on the canyon walls. Seeing the gigantic red walls illuminated in the night was kinda cool. We were really curious about the cruise and what the guide on the boat was talking about. As they got closer, we saw that he had a laser pointer and was pointing out different shapes on the canyon wall. "What does that look like? That's right, a dog!" Strange...