For Thanksgiving this year we decided to go up to Utah and visit friends we hadn’t seen since we moved to Korea. We broke the drive up over two days and left Tuesday afternoon after school let out. On our second day, we made a quick pit stop at Arches National Park before continuing on to Salt Lake City.
We only had a couple of hours to spare so we couldn’t do any of the main hikes. Luckily, Arches is an incredibly accessible park by vehicle. It’s a good place to take small children, outdoor-intolerant friends, and older parents. So much of the park can be seen and experienced from the car and by getting out for short jaunts on well-marked paths. We were able to see much of the park in our brief 2 hours.
The landscape was spectacular. We drove by massive sandstone formations, petrified dunes, balanced rocks, and arches all on display under a wide blue sky with the La Sal Mountains looming in the background. The arches form as rainwater erodes the sandstone over time. First, the stone begins to form fins. Then if an alcove dissolves in the base of a fin, it will form an arch before it eventually collapses.
A cold front was blowing in from the north which brought incredibly strong winds to the park. It didn’t impact our visit much with the exception of Balanced Rock where we experienced the sheer force of the wind.
We were able to do the short mile hike to the North and South Windows and Turret Arch. It was a popular spot since the arches are so accessible. It was an easy hike up to the North Window which afforded us a great view of the Turret Arch, another short walk away. From Turret Arch we had a fantastic panorama of both North and South Windows.
After The Windows we didn’t have much time left so we decided to go slightly further into the park to see Delicate Arch, the most recognized arch in the park. (It’s on the Utah license plate.) In hindsight, I don’t think it was worth it. The best way to view Delicate Arch is by doing the hike to the arch. Since we didn’t have time, we hiked to the viewpoint instead. It was only a half mile hike but the view wasn’t that great. The arch blends in with its surroundings. If you’re capable of hiking to Delicate Arch, that’s definitely the way to go. We’ll certainly do that next time.
Unfortunately, we needed to get back on the road to Salt Lake City in order to make it before nightfall. We didn’t make it to the northern-most part of the park where many of the other arches are located. Hopefully next time we’ll have more time to devote to the park so that we can do the longer hikes. It was a great visit, and we can’t wait to go back!