The U.S. National Park Service is 100 hundred years old! And, in celebration of this centennial, entry to National Parks across the country was free this entire week of April 18th to the 24th. We didn’t realize this when we entered the park and we were disappointed not to be able to use our new $10 senior’s pass! Considering the $25 entry fee was waived it wasn’t crowded and we spent 1 1/2 days in this amazing Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.
The tour starts with a visit to the Visitor’s Centre to watch an amazing orientation film, peruse the exhibits, browse the store, use the facilities and stock up on water.
As you twist and turn up the highway into the park it’s immediately awe inspiring. You can’t help but look up at the balancing rocks perched atop inadequate bases, locate an arch in the distance – there’s one!, stare at the towering spires and smooth rock fins and think this can’t be real…
Oh, but it is real! Millions of years real!
This amazing National Park covers over 76,000 acres, is open 24 hours, 365 days a year and boasts over 2,000 natural sandstone arches – the world’s greatest density of arches. I think we located about 20 of them! Where the heck are the rest?
The minimum size arch has to have an opening of three feet and if you locate a new uncatalogued arch you have the privilege of naming it – you just can’t use your own personal name. Landscape Arch below – is the longest.
FYI, in 1991 a rock slab 60 feet long, 11 feet wide and four feet thick fell from the underside of Landscape Arch. Forever more – changing this landscape!
You can’t help but look up at all of this rock and wonder when the next chunk is going to fall. Chuck kept looking and waiting and wanting for something to fall… I’m thinking – which direction do we run?
There are plenty of view-points; miles of marked hiking trails and observation pull-outs. Trails directly from the parking lots are well-laid out to the rock features and usually include an alternate primitive trail for those looking for a little more adventure. Rock cairns (small rock piles) mark the trail routes. You are instructed to “follow them – but don’t build your own…” I had to look carefully for them as many of them had toppled over leaving a rubble of rock…within a rubble of rock. Often what helped point me in the right direction was This is not a trail…
This amazing landscape had so much to offer from – the Courthouse Towers… to the Petrified Dunes… to the Windows Section… to the Fiery Furnace… to Devil’s Garden – and back again. And you can bet this landscape will continue to change as Mother Nature forms new features and destroys the old. Yes, those balancing rocks will someday tumble and, Yes, new arches will form.
I can’t begin to give this National Park the accolades it deserves. “D” is for drive on over and “E” is explore for yourself!