Arches National Park. Canyonland by night boats.

Trip Start May 21, 2008
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Trip End May 30, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, May 30, 2008

Between Mesa Verde and Moab is "The Rock." You've got to stop here to see chintzy Americana at it's best. The problem is you get so caught up in the old cars, trucks, mining equipment, gas pumps, neon signs, and anything you can imagine from our fathers and grandfathers time, that this one "quick" bathroom stop turns into at least an hour of browsing.

First arch we find is the Wilson Arch along the side of the road. Gotta stop for a photo. Then straight up to Arches National Park. Once we see all the trails, we're overwhelmed. Which ones will be best?

The problem is trying to narrow down the list of what we really want to see to the time table we have to live with.

The MUST DO'S:
Devils Garden
Delicate Arch
Fiery Furnace
Sand Dune Arch
Balancing Ardh
Double Arch.

THE PROBLEM:
How to see everything and then some, before rushing back to jump on the jetboat?

Some info: 5 miles nort of Moab is Arches National Park, which contains the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches.
Although over 2,000 arches are located within the park's 76,518 acres, teh park also contains an astoundign variety of other geological formations. Colosal sandsone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires dwarf the landscape.

The 3 mile roundtrip hike to Delicate Arch is a must. This is one of the most awe-inspiring views in the country.

Driving through the desert of eastern Utah, it's hard to believe that this very dry place was created by water. Water is the key component on the formation of arches.

Yep, water. Teh arches were formed when underground salt was dissolved by water. This caused subsidence. It sunk the ground on the surface, creating fins of rock. The rock fins were eroded over time by wind, creating these uniqueily beautiful arches.

The erosion process continues without end.

The hike to the Sand Dune Arch was a little more difficult than we expected. Hmmm. Hike. Sand Dune. Who would have guessed we would be up to our ankles in sand? It's one I would do again.

Skyline arch is a shorter hike. Then on to the "split decision" Take the Pine tree arch to the left or the Tunnel ARch to the right. Well how do we know which is better? Easy, we do both.

Then a stop and walk back to Balancing Rock. The Park is a combination of arches and unique rock formations, carved by the wind. I'm a
cairn'er. Love to stack those rocks. So I made a few cairns during the hikes.

Fiery Furnace didn't impress me as much as I thought it would, but that might have been due to the lighting. It just didn't have that intense fiery color.

Delicate Arch is the crowning jewel. We saw it from both side. One trail was "littered" with turquiose rocks. Some large, some like pebbles.

The best time to enter the Park is in the early morning when the sun is shining on the larges of rocks: Park Avenue, the 3 Gossips and the Courthouse. I made the mistake of NOT stopping for photos on the way in. Coming out the photos didn't have that "oh my gosh" appearance that they previously had.

Many of the rock formations frame the snow covered LaSalles Mountain Range. With good lighing you have a vibrant blue sky, fiery red rocks and white snow. Hard to beat.

Don't do one day here!! Two gives you the opportunity to really explore the area. Three would be better if you're a hiker. Toooo many trails we just didn't get the chance to use.

Back into town and down to the Colorado River for a late afternoon "jetboat" cruise with Canyonland Adventures. We saw nests of Peregrine falcons, another type of unusual bird - hippies. Yep the 70's version are still here in their vans. I was looking for the van I wanted in my youth...flower power decorated, but couldn't find it.

The boat starts out slow, we stop to see rock climbers ascending the high stone walls, see some petroglyps carved in these same walls, then quickly gather speed as we fly down the canyon. And what is in front of us? The Jug Handle Arch!

Tubers with their water coolers are also floating down the brown river. Does the river dirt accumulate in their suits?

The scenery is duplicated in the water. This time of the day is just a calming experience...when our driver isn't throwing the boat into high gear mode. But it's fun to feel the spray in your face.

A buffet (I usually don't like these..but this one was very good!) dinner at the Canyonland Adventure center before we're back on the Colorado River for another type of boating.

It's a sound and light show. Don't think hi-tech. Or Disney. This is the same production from the 1960's. You float down oposite side of the the canyon in a 144 seat boat. Formations are pointed out and you learn the history of this area. The sky starts darkening and music starts. Continuing back up the river we stop in front of the huge walls of rock we had passed earlier. A recorded presentaton of the native peoples combined with light...which comes from a truck lagging behind us shines on the canyon walls. Ok, it sounds hokey. But it wasn't.

And the BEST is still to come after the lights go out. We're like motionless sitting ducks in the water. No lights, just the sound of soothing music.
Then we're told to lean back and look up. Our eyes widen as a zillon stars shine down on us. No one is saying a word. We'er just soaking it in. For more than 10 minutes we sat gazing, looking for constellations, admiring the beauty of the heavens. I live in the country. We have stars, but I have never seen the shining intensity of anything like this in my life. This experience was the highlite of the trip.
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