The Windows Section & Delicate Arch

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
Canyonlands RV Resort & Campground Moab
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
The Windows Section & Delicate Arch

Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So time to check out this Arches thing. I've heard that it gets very crowded and the parking lots are very small. So I need to get there before most families are done with their pancakes. Being that we are sleeping so much we did not get there that early. For once we skipped the Visitors Center – we’ll get that at a later time – so we could hit some key places before the lots filled up. The park is only a few miles north of Moab. You have to cross the Colorado River to get here and due to all the monsoon rains of late it was very swollen – looked like a few feet before it spilled its banks. After the VC, the park road climbs a very steep and twisted road up to the plateau. Our first stop was just over 9 miles in at the Balanced Rock.

We pulled in the small lot around 9:30 and sure enough it was almost full – we got the second to last spot here. Again, it was full of Germans. There is a half mile trail around this monolith of stone with a large rock on top that is almost three times as big. It looks like a football balanced on a Pringles can. For some reason I took a ton of pics on this short trail. Every angle you look at it makes it look different.

From Balanced Rock we drove a few miles east to what is called "The Windows." This is one of the more popular areas of the park as it has the famous “Double Arch” besides a short path leads you to three other arches. So four arches in an area with hardly any effort – this will be a busy place with the entire “see the park in a few hours” crowd. Again, we got there just in time as the parking was get scarce. The good news is there is a developed – i.e “easy” – trail and a “primitive” trail. All the day-trippers with kids in tow follow the main trail. Pooh and I love our trails with as little people as possible. So we took the primitive trail. The only others on this trail were the Germans, and most of the time if they have kids in tow they are not screaming for whatever reason. Why is it that American kids are so loud? Anyway, the trail was mostly sand and rock with no pavement but it was not so hard. The first arches we say were North and South Window – hence the name, “The Windows” section. When you look at them from a distance, they look like someone’s glasses looking at the sky. We looped around the mesa that had these two arches and – BAM! – the crowds. Even though the parking lot was not that big it still felt a little Disney-like. There were several people inside North Arch taking pictures and Pooh and I went halfway up the arch to sit in the shade and be above everyone for a few min. It was interesting watching people taking this and that picture. There was another arch in the area – Turret Arch – that seemed to be ignored by most people. If this one arch were in Georgia it would be an instant state park and one of the most popular sites. But here in Arches National Park, it’s just another arch.

From the parking lot, we had to walk to the other side to see one of the star attractions of the park – Double Arch. There was just one “crowded” trail leading here. It gets its name because there are two arches in the same place – and big ones at that. Pooh tried to climb halfway up the main arch but it was too crowded. I just sat in a shady spot away from the crowds to soak in the wonder of the place and how long it took those arches to be formed. Then “POP”!  I thought someone had shot their gun – this is Utah where pretty much anyone can carry a gun. But no. A chunk of rock from the arch had just fell and smashed to pieces on the rock floor. This was where people were walking before and someone could had easily been standing there. But no one was hurt. Did put a little scare into the crowd. Rocks do fall here and the park rangers cannot control when and where they fall.

After the Windows and Double Arch we drove about four miles to the Delicate Arch trailhead. At this it was around 11 and this parking lot was full. We had to wait a few min. to find a spot I could squeeze my truck into. This is a three mile total trail which is not too bad for this trip. However, much of the trail is on slick rock with parts of it pretty steep. Going towards the parking lot we were passed by an ambulance which did go into the same place. We were a quarter of the way up the trail before the group of EMTs passed us with the stretcher. Since this was a trail, the usual wheels would not work. So they had this thing balanced on a single bicycle tire. They took it to this old guy who must have got a little heat exhaustion since he was sitting up against a rock with other EMTs. He did not look too bad which was the good news. I thought someone might have slipped off the slick rock and into a ravine which is pretty easy around here. The rest of the trail was uneventful as far as that but it did have that tough and steep slick rock section. Since the parking lot was full and this was the only trail, it was very busy – again, half the people were Germans or other Europeans. At the end of the trail was the Utah state symbol of Delicate Arch – you see it on many of their license plates. This is also the arch you see on all the Utah travel literature. The arch sits alone in the middle of a natural ampatheater as if it was the star of the show. It was good that it was in the middle of such a large place so it could house all the loud tourists. This is not a place of solitude that you want from a National Park – like hanging out at Old Faithful. I guess if you come here late in the evening or early in the morning it might be better – except then you might have all the sunrise and sunset seekers coming out. The path back was easier with that slick rock going downhill. But it was now around 1 in the afternoon and getting very hot. Time for the monsoon rains to come in.  

Back in Moab we ate lunch at Little Schezwan for a Chinese buffet. If was not the best Chinese buffet but it was not the worse either. They did have a really good soy sauce and we did stuff ourselves to the max. The price was not bad either for a tourist town. Back at the RV we chilled out for the afternoon and walked the dog around a little – she really hates it when we leave her in the RV, but what can you do when National Parks don’t let dogs in. We lazed around so long that we ran out of time to go anywhere for an evening hike. So we just took Quique on the Moab river trail for a few miles. The highlight to this walk was the berry tree of which there were several of. Blackberries grew on these trees which were easy to pick since they did not have needles on them like they do back home. We spent about 30 min. gorging on these berries until our hands turned purple. We also passed a Community Nibble Garden where you can pick a few crops that the high school students planted. Nothing was in season but I thought it was a good idea. The trail took us all around the high school where the football team was doing some summer practice. Then back through the woods for a half mile back to the main road just a little way from our campground. So our dog had a happy two hour walk. Back at the RV we just chilled out on our front porch and watched a little CNN before bed.
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