Monuments and Arches

Trip Start Sep 06, 2010
Trip End Apr 13, 2011

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Where I stayed
Arches National Park Campground

Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, January 28, 2011

Driving down to Monument Valley, the road was actually part of Utah, but the valley itself was situated in Arizona, so we were unintentionally state-hopping. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park was situated in the Navajo Reservation (Navajo being a tribe of Native Americans) and loomed in the distance as we drove towards it. The park itself consisted of huge rock formations, all of which had names and were apparently sacred to the Navajo people. Some rocks looked like big shapes, e.g. totem poles (funnily enough they were named that) and all sorts of other descriptive names. We drove around the valley on the scenic drive which went for several miles 'oohing' and ‘aahing’ at the formations - they were pretty stunning, defying proper description. The camera never does these things justice, so if you look at the pictures, just imagine it’s twenty million times better than you see and you are getting close... on the way out of the park, I stopped to look at some of the nice, native jewellery and chatted to the guy. Then, we moved onto Arches National Park.

We stopped to buy some stuff for lunch – sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches, nothing BUT sandwiches! – and then moved off to find somewhere nicer to eat them (although we have indeed pulled out the deck chairs in Safeways carparks...). When we stopped and got all the stuff out, I was chopping up some of the food and realised that Sam had bought a cabbage rather than a lettuce. At least it made a variation to our sandwiches (although they were a fair bit smaller than usual) and I made use of the cabbage in a huge stirfry the next night.

We got to Arches National Park and set up camp on some big rocks. I took note of the big signs warning of mountain lions in the area and not to jog alone (I thought I probably wouldn’t have any issue with this...). We looked out from our campsite onto beautiful plains below and some high rocks to our right. I got started on dinner and the boys decided to go for a little pre-dinner hike. Upon their return, I discovered that neither of them had been eaten and we had some dinner with a nice fire and the world’s biggest marshmallows. Seriously, take an American sized marshmallow (big) and then triple X size it... That’s how big they were. We toasted them marshies lightly and ate the shells as they came off. I think the record was 6 before the marshmallow got totally molten and fell of the stick. Large.

The next day, I stayed behind and did a little more work on my assignment and the boys went off to look at the Delicate Arch. The climbed all over it and only later (from a better perspective over the other side) realised that on the other side of the arch was a sheer drop off and if they’d stumbled they would have gone ‘ni-nis’...

When they returned, we all had lunch (again minus lettuce) and then headed out to do what I was told would be a small hike. When we got there, we discovered it was actually quite a bit longer than short, but we headed off anyway. Shortly after we’d started, the trail became really icy and I kept slipping. I hate losing my footing – it seems such a long way down! Eventually we made it over this snowy mountain (in some areas we were pushing through thigh-high snow) and we found the trail again. We passed several beautiful arch structures in the sandstone rocks, worn away by years and years of water and wind erosion, the bridge part eventually destined to crumble down leaving two pillars remaining. It was quite incredible seeing these quite improbable bridge-like structures and they looked so delicate just hanging there with nothing to support them.

The trail turned rather difficult – one section required us to go down this huge boulder pass pretty much wedging ourselves between the two sides until we reached the ground. There was potential for mishaps and I was rather nervous. Thankfully I made it through. Sam walked off somewhere and we had to go find him. We lost the trail and wandered around for some time looking for it. The trails were incredibly poorly marked (maybe one pointer per mile if that) and it was unsurprising to find the tracks of many others who had gone astray in a similar place.

We ended up just hiking out in the direction we (and by that I mean our navigation computer called Andrew) knew the direction of the main trail to lie in. I ended up having a bit of a fall on some ice – straight onto my tail bone and wrist which hurt. Sam walked off again and we only managed to catch up with him back at camp. We had some dinner. Tired, but happy we’d seen some amazing terrain and features.

In the morning, I was a bit happy to be leaving the area as I was a little tired of the threat of mountain lions in general and I was ready for a shower. We headed into Denver, where I booked us into the Ramada and I was looking forward to a nice, comfy bed for once!

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