Arches National Park started off great. We drove overnight from Salida and arrived right as the sun was rising, creating magnificent silhouettes from the towering rock formations around us. We luckily pulled into our desired camping area (a first come first serve) just as another group was leaving. Our site was right on the Colorado River which had behind it, an imposing sandstone cliff. After setup, we took a few hour nap to compensate for our overnight travels then headed straight into the park.
Quickly after entering the park and ascending rapidly, we pulled off at a street called Park Avenue. Here we gazed down a corridor of massive rock formations including cliffs, caves and precariously balanced boulders. We were loving Arches. We continued the day driving from one notable rock formation to another, with ample places to test our bouldering and climbing skills. Some of our favorites the first day were getting on top of Broken Arch, hiking the backside of Double Arch with no crowd, and Balanced Rock. After the day of clambering around in the hot sun (with many blinding mini sandstorms to boot) we decided to head back to camp for a break before tackling a hike to Delicate Arch. Aside from the Golden Arches, Delicate Arch is quite possibly the world’s most famous arch – it is on the “Welcome to Utah!” sign as well as the license plates. It was promised to be especially picturesque around sunset. Our quick stop to relax at camp prior to our trek quickly changed from detour to disaster when we arrived at our tent. The gusting winds and swirling sands had made it past our rainfly and closed up tent to lay upon every single surface inside. To call it deflating would be an understatement. It was the first real “disaster” of our trip. We spent the next hour and a half shaking sand from all of our possessions while subconsciously realizing our chances of completing our sunset hike were slipping away.
After we did our best to complete Operation Shakeout, we decided to go for it anyways. We sped to the trailhead only to find the demand for spaces vastly higher than the supply. We circled like parking lot vultures waiting on someone, anyone to leave. There were about 3 other cars circling with us, making it into a motorized game of musical chairs. Finally we found a group of people who ultimately yielded their spot, only after having the longest conversation ever while entering their car. We quickly parked and raced to the top. 3+ miles later, we turned the corner to reveal the arch (and quite the crowd) just in time to snap some photos with full light and to sit back and enjoy the sunset. The wind persisted, even blowing one bystanders hat right off the cliff, and it continued to keep everyone up top on their toes aware of Mother Nature’s power. It was this wind, and the flash floods that rolled through this region which created the fantastic features we were all observing.
To close out the night, we saw the most brilliant moon. The pictures below will do it much more justice than anything I could write- it was absolutely stunning. It was a nice way to relax and enjoy the end of a great but trying day in one of the most unique places we had ever been!