Saturday, July 7, 2012

ARCHES AND CANYONLAND NATIONAL PARKS

July  2nd, Monday

The road from the Visitor Center to our campsite was eighteen miles of switchbacks and curvey roads and it took 45 minutes! We have a great site, however, and are looking forward to our stay here.
Campsite at Arches National Park

The Arches was dedicated as a National Park in 1929 by Herbert Hoover. It has over 2000 documented arches. Some of them you can see from the scenic road, while most you have to hike in to see. We will see as many as we can, but I know that number will pale in comparison to the ones that are here. The arches starting forming over 300 million years ago. With flooding, then evaporation leaving salt deposits behind that over those millions of years became thousands of feet thick.  The sediments became rock and the weight of the rock caused the salt to be pushed away. Thus, the domes, faults and the anticlines (upfolds of earth) were formed.  Entrada sandstone is the basic element of the arches. The rocks weather differently and form the fins, arches and sculpted rocks.  When you look at all of the different formations, you would think you were in a prehistoric era with dinosaurs ready to come out from behind a rock at any time. They are truly an other worldly experience. In fact, there is a space film that is going to be filmed here soon!
July 3rd,  Tuesday

Just as we thought it would be, the temperatures today rose from 84 at the start of the day to 109 by midafternoon! Yikes!

We left the RV by 6am to catch the rising sun on Landscape Arch. It was only about five minutes from the campsite and there were only a few people on the trail this early. It was well worth rising early. The light on the arch early morning was incredible just as the literature stated it would be.


Trailhead to Landscape Arch


Landscape Arch
The hike was  1.6 miles round trip. However, there were a few side trails that we also explored, Tim more than me. So I probably hiked over two miles and Tim did almost four. We were glad it wasn't too hot yet. The trail was rated as "moderately easy" but one of the side trails was called "primitive" and believe me it was. I went part of the way and then sat and waited for Tim to return. It was more like rock climbing than a trail.  Tim followed the trail for another mile to see Partition Arch. He said this rock climb was the hardest part, but no matter. Enough was enough for me.
Tim is at the top of the rock!

I stopped here!!
Partition Arch
It seems to me that all of the trails that we have encountered to date are a little more than we had expected. Easy doesn't always mean "easy"and moderate doesn't always mean "moderate" ..unless of course you have been hiking every day for your entire life!! Then again, if we would stick to the trail we started with, it might help! But I digress..

From Landscape Arch, we drove to Turret Arch which is also supposed to be good for morning light.
Turret Arch
 We climbed up the "easy" trail to the arch and plotted our return for the evening so that we can could catch the light on the North and SouthWindow Arches at that time.  The day was getting hotter and it was only 10:30am. We returned to the RV and decided to go to Moab and explore the town and the surrounding area in a nice air conditioned car.

At the local visitor center we were told of the lake that the locals use, Ken's Lake. With map in hand, we found it. Fortunately, we had our bathing suits in the car so we changed and jumped right in. Tim fished while I lounged in the water. Believe it or not, he caught his limit of six fish!!! He has fished everywhere we have been in all the lakes and streams. It seems strange that we had to come  to the high desert for him to catch any.
Ken's Lake in Moab
We drove the scenic highway along the Colorado River on the way back to Arches and just enjoyed the cool air conditioning and the sights along the way.
Colorado River

After dinner,  about 8pm, we returned to the Window Arches hoping that we weren't too late to catch the evening sunlight. By the time we got there, it was crowded with folks doing the same thing we were. We climbed through the Turret Arch hoping to get a great shot through it to the North Window. The light didn't disappoint. We got some great shots!
North and South Window Arches
North Window Through Turret Arch

 The air was still hot but with the sun going down, it was a lot more bearable. We waited with a group of other folks to see the moonrise over the rock formations. It was truly a beautiful sight to see the sunset through the North Window and the full moon rise above one of the rock outrcroppings.

Sunset Through North Window


Moonrise Over Rock Formation

 
This was one full day and we were exhausted by 10pm when we hit the hot RV. No electricity and no air conditioning in this desert climate. Tim slept outside in a chair under the stars.

July 4th, Wednesday

Happy fourth of July!

The road to Canyonland National Park'a Island in the Sky area is only twelve miles from the Arches Visitor Center (which is eighteen miles from us) so we decided that we would tour by car and stop along the way at various overlooks.  The Park, dedicated in 1968, is 527 acres with only a few paved roads along the top rims. We thought it might be too hot to do much walking, but we packed a lunch and went out for the day. Fortunately, it was overcast with a little breeze and the temperatures were hovering in the mid 80s. That being so, we drove directly to the farthest point in this section of the Park, Grand View Point Overlook. Once there, we opted to hike the rim trail for panoramic views of the canyons. This two mile round trip hike across the top of the canyon and at times very near to the rim, gave us breathtaking views.  The top of the canyons below were 1000 feet below us. The bottom of those canyons were 1000 feet below that. The sights were awesome. Being a hazy day, however, I'm afraid the images we took cannot compare with what we actually saw.
Tim Hiking on the Rim Trail
Canyon Views



Canyon Views from Rim



The Monitor and the Merrimac Rock Formations
Yes, He is Still on the Trail!
 We only ventured out on one more walk this day to Mesa Arch. We're told that the best time to come here is at sunrise, but that is not in our timeframe. I think we enjoyed it just as much this afternoon without having to rise at 4 am to be here in time for that.
Mesa Arch
Tim Atop Mesa Arch..This is definitely not the trail!

We stopped several places along the way with quick hops out of the car as the day was clearing up and heating up, but we really enjoyed this fairly new National Park. Pictures just don't do any of this vast expanse justice.

3 comments:

  1. Your photos are awesome, especially the moon rise! We will visit these in late July. Looking forward to seeing you in Yosemite!

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  2. ummm...excuse me???? aren't you supposed to be ON THE TRAIL????? signed, guess who?

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  3. Jan and Jim WestonJuly 23, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    OOOH! Gorgeous photos... they do bring back memories of our trip there about 10 years ago. I remember the heat and the dryness and starkness of the area, yet quite beautiful too. I know I spent too much time looking for snakes to avoid!

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