Abstract Musings

Documenting the random thoughts of a cluttered mind

Day 6 — Arches National Park, May 2005

In May 2005, Rachelle and I took a vacation to Colorado. After riding on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, we made a detour in our travel plans and drove through eastern Utah to visit Arches National Park. This was our second trip to Arches National Park; our first visit was in September 2001.

Arches National Park

Arches Sign
The park sign greeted us as we entered the park.

The highlight of our previous visit to Arches was hiking out to Delicate Arch. On this trip, we had planned to hike out to Delicate Arch first thing in the morning. But the overcast skies threatened rain, so we decided to spend our time visiting areas of the park we had not explored on our prior visit.

Petrified Dunes
Here’s a view of the cloudy skies with the La Sal Mountains in the background. In the foreground are the Petrified Dunes. This is an inaccurate description since only organic material can be petrified. These rocks were at one time sand dunes which were compressed into these sandstone formations.

Against the Sky
This mammoth formation is aptly named Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock
We hiked a short trail around this rock formation.

Balanced Rock
One last view of Balanced Rock. It would be the first of two formations we would see that day known by that name.

Hint of Light
The snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains make a stunning contrast to the landscape.

Skyline Arch
Next, we decided to hike a short trail out to Skyline Arch.

Skyline Arch
The arch became larger when a section of rock fell out of the arch in November 1940.

Desert Blooms
I was surprised by how much color the desert had. More color seemed to be present this trip than I recalled from our previous visit. I shouldn’t have been too surprised–it was springtime after all. Here’s one of the wildflowers in bloom we passed on our hike.

Skyline Arch
A view from the base of Skyline Arch. Right next to the spot where I took this photograph at the end of the trail lie the remains of the large boulder which fell out of the arch.

Skyline Arch, Redux
One last view of Skyline Arch as we headed back to the parking lot.

Squeeze Through
Next, we decided to take another short hike to Sand Dune Arch. The trail goes between some of the many rock fins which can be seen throughout the park. The presence of the rock fins is a neccessary ingredient in the formation of the park’s numerous arches.

Sand Dune Arch
I am guessing that Sand Dune Arch gets its name from the sand that covers the ground around it. Otherwise, the name makes no sense to me.

Rock Fins
On our way back to our car, we passed several rock fins.

Salt Valley
The La Sal Mountains tower above Salt Valley.

Fiery Furnace and More
Next, we stopped at the Fiery Furnace which is named for the reddish glow the red sandstone takes on at sunset. We had visited this area on our last visit to Arches, but liked it enough to stop and view it again. This photo shows the edge of the Fiery Furnace, Salt Valley and the La Sal Mountains in the background.

Fiery Furnace
Some time I’d like to return to Arches and take a hike through this area. And also to stay until sunset to see the rocks glow red.

Next, we drove to the Windows Section which we had visited before, but we didn’t hike out to Double Arch on that trip which I had regretted. So Double Arch became one of the sights I had to see this time around.

Double Arch
The arch isn’t too interesting from the parking lot, but once I got closer the enormity of this formation (third largest in the park) became obvious.

Along the way, I passed more evidence of Spring’s influence on the desert.

It's Alive
Here’s more plant life.

Getting Closer to Double Arch
At the end of the trail, the two spans of Double Arch loomed over me. At the bottom of this photograph, you can see another hiker, standing underneath the front span.

Desert Flower
I spotted yet another wildflower as I approached the arch.

From Double Arch
I climbed up to stand underneath the back span of Double Arch. I took this photo of the scenery; North Window is just barely visible.

Parade of Elephants
As I headed back towards the car, I passed this formation named Parade of Elephants.

Fiery Furnace, Again
Next, we stopped at Panorama Point to take in a spectacular view of Salt Valley and the Fiery Furnace. You can also view a panoramic photo of this amazing view.

The sky was clearing by this time, but we decided it was too late in the day for us to hike to Delicate Arch and still visit the other places we wanted to that day. So we contented ourselves with viewing Delicate Arch from the Delicate Arch Viewpoint.

Delicate Arch
An intrepid hiker celebrates under Delicate Arch.

A Wildflower
Along the way to the viewpoint, we passed more wildflowers.

Delicate Arch Landscape
From the viewpoint, we could see Delicate Arch along the sandstone ridge opposite us, and the wash below it.

We were not alone at the viewpoint.

Delicate Arch
Another hiker poses under Delicate Arch.

After we made our way back down to our car, we were ready to leave the park. On our way out, we stopped to take some photos of the Courthouse Towers section of the park.

Courthouse Towers

Courthouse Towers, Part 2

Our next destination was nearby Canyonlands National Park.