Archey Arches National Park
Trip Start Dec 22, 2011
45Trip End Apr 13, 2012
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This park contains more than 2000 natural arches which is the greatest concentration in the country. Perched high above the Colorado River this park is part of southern Utah's extended canyon county, carved and shaped by eons of weathering and erosion. Inland seas covered this basin that formed this area . These seas refilled and evaporated 29 times leaving behind salt beds thousands of feet thick. Future geological processes eventually resulted in Arches being formed.
We drove the scenic drive to the end and made our way back checking out all the sights
Next stops were Skyline arch, Broken arch and sand dune arch. Next was the Fiery Furnance and Salt Valley Overlooks. The Fiery Furnance is a dense array of red fins where you see a world standing on end - hoodoos, spires, and slabs 200 feet high. Walks into here are via guide only as its easy to get lost. We continued on to the Delicate Arch viewpoint - the most photographed arch in the world. We didn't take the hike as it was quite long and we didnt have the time. We drove past Wolfe Ranch (where a civil war vetran raised cattle at the turn of the 20th century). Next stop was the Garden of Eden where sandstone walls are perforated by several arches - South and North Windows, and Turret Arch, along with double arch.
Other stops included checking out Balanced Rock (literally what it sounds like), a distant vew of La Sal Mountains, Petrified Dunes (sand dunes that have turned to stone) and Courthouse Towers (rock formations).
After leaving the park we headed into town for fuel, lunch and money
The following morning we made our way around the bridges. A bridge is different from an arch in that they are formed by the erosive action of moving water. Arches are formed by other erosional forces, mainly frost action and seeping moisture. Those same forces also work to enlarge natural bridges once stream erosion forms them.
We checked out all three bridges within the park but only walked to one. The bridges are Sipapu, Kachina and Owachomo (the one we walked to). There are so big its crazy. We also took a little walk the the viewpoint for the Horsecollar Ruins site. It was cool to see some Indian ruins - mainly square and round kivas. After leaving the park we detoured off onto a dirt road to a viewpoint called Muley Point. From here we could see into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - awesome sight.
The next step in the plan was to head to Monument Valley and camp around here for the night. To get here we drove through the Navajo Tribal Reservation which is an area of land handed back to the Indians and covers about 1/3 of the Colorado Plateau