After Bryce Canyon, we made our way to Moab, Utah. Moab was our home base while we visited the two remaining parks, Arches and Canyonlands. The first stop we made after getting settled in our hotel was Arches. If the name doesn’t give it away, Arches National Park is known for its stone arches. These arches are so famous and unique that one of them is featured on Utah license plates, the Delicate Arch.
As one of the most well-known landmarks in the entire state, the hike to the Delicate Arch gets very busy in the summer. We got up extremely early to do this hike to avoid both the heat and masses of people. This hike is 3 miles round-trip, and even with an injured leg I was determined to see the arch regardless of how tired I would be. My decision was absolutely the right one. Don’t get me wrong, the trail was tough. A good portion of it is slickrock, which basically just means you’re walking on a bald, smooth rock face that gets slippery when it’s wet. Luckily, we were there on a completely cloudless day–no rain in sight!
There aren’t words to describe the feeling I got when I turned a corner and saw the Delicate Arch. It’s truly massive and is made even more beautiful by the backdrop of mountains that are snow-capped even in June. The arch is surrounded on three sides by huge drops. You can walk right up to it by going around to the fourth side, but even that walk has a steep slope and is a little scary to walk on. As I said before, though, nothing was going to stop me from getting to that arch. To this day, it’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.
We stayed in Arches that day until long after dark to see the Milky Way. Like most national parks, Arches is pretty far away from light pollution, making the stars extremely visible. My dad and I are amateur photographers, so we spent a lot of time trying to get good photos of the Milky Way. We got a couple that were really good, which we were really excited about!
Arches has over 2,000 natural stone arches inside the park, but they are not the only cool geological features it has. There is a group of fins known as the Fiery Furnace, and these fins have created a huge maze. Visitors are not allowed to go into the Fiery Furnace on their own; they have to go on guided ranger tours. Even on the guided tours, people have gotten lost because they’ve stopped to take photos and fallen behind their group. We did not do a tour of the Fiery Furnace, but I hope to return in the future and go in there.
My family will be going back to Arches this January. I’m very excited to see how different the landscape will look with snow everywhere. Obviously a lot of hikes will be closed, so we’ll probably just end up driving to see different arches that are visible from the roads. I can’t wait to go back! It ranks #1 on my list.