9/17/13

Arches National Park

Yesterday, we visited Arches National Park. We have visited Arches before and done quite a bit of hiking in this area. It is one of my favorites of the Utah parks. The park is located high above the Colorado River, and is a part of southern Utah's extended canyon country.  Around 300 million years ago (give or take), inland seas covered the large basin that formed the region. The seas refilled and evaporated 29 times in all, leaving behind salt beds that were thousands of feet thick. Sand and boulders carried down by streams from the uplands eventually buried the salt beds beneath thick layers of stone. Salt, being less dense than the overlying blanket of rock, rose up through it, forming into domes and ridges with valleys in between.

In this next image, you can see the La Sal Mountains (meaning "salt") in the background. The skies were so clear we could see for hundreds of miles.

Most of the formations are made of soft red sandstone that was deposited 150 million years ago. Later on, groundwater began to dissolve the underlying salt deposits. The sandstone domes collapsed and weathered into a maze of vertical rock slabs called "fins." After that, sections of the slender walls eventually wore through, creating the arches visitors can see today.


This next formation is called "The Organ" and the structure behind it is known as the "Tower of Babel".


Of course we brought our shadow selves along. Mike's shadow self couldn't resist hamming for the camera. His morning shadow is a little more energetic than his afternoon shadow. 


Of the many national parks I have visited, this next image shows my favorite formation. It is known as the "Three Gossips." Can't you just see their disapproving looks and imagine them discussing the object of their condemnation?


To the right of them is this "Sheep Rock" formation. Do you see the sheep?


I'm thinking their conversation has something to do with behavior related to the sheep. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)


I simply meant that the sheep probably ate grass from the wrong lawn or something.

As we drove along, we could see the "Windows" formation in the distance.


But before arriving there, we saw the "Balanced Rock" formation.


The road splits off to the right to head up to the Windows, and along the way, one can see the "Garden of Eden" formation.


This is the North Window. There is a trail the leads up to both "Windows" and then one can choose to take the trail that loops around the whole thing. Using very poor judgment, we decided to take the trail. It turned out to be longer and harder than we anticipated. 


We hadn't done the loop trail before, and so we didn't walk up to the North Window all the way. However, we did so on a previous visit and lay down under the arch. This next image is from our visit here in 2006.


There were other folks there with us, and we mused about those rocks above. We all agreed that the park employees surely must come out and knock down any loose ones on occasion in order to protect park visitors like us (lying directly beneath them) from having their heads bashed in by falling rocks. Later, we asked a ranger who told us we were wrong about that. Rocks fall when and where they will, and they have no regard for silly Americans (who always expect others to be looking out for their welfare) who might be lounging on the ground below. Okay, then. Noted.

This image below is the "South Window," and to the left is "Turret Arch".


We roped a kindly gentleman with a British accent into taking this picture of us. He was very sweet and was very careful composing a good image. "Two arches and two people," he said.


The sky was incredibly blue yesterday and the puffy white clouds made for some excellent photo-ops. The landscape here is positively majestic.



We had an idea that there were visitor centers at both ends of the road through the park, and so we foolishly had no food or water with us. Then we hiked this harder-than-expected trail, and by the time we finished, we were hungry and thirsty. Since we've driven this road before, and hiked the formations beyond, we decided to head back into town for lunch at the Moab Brewery, where we had the best onion rings ever.

We are staying at an RV park located right next door to the high school. Yesterday and today, we've been awakened at 7:00 a.m. by the marching band (complete with horns and drums) practicing their half time show. Listening to "When the Saints Come Marching In" isn't as bad as the buzzing of an alarm clock, but after hearing it over and over again 100 or so times, it does become annoying. I was in the marching band in high school, and we had the decency to practice our marching and playing in the afternoons and evenings. We've supposed that they are out early to avoid the heat of the day, but geez. A warning about these goings on by the RV park hosts would have been appreciated. And I can't leave out the cheerleaders who entertained us in the afternoon with their loud music--Are. You. Ready?!?--while they practiced their routines. It does bring back some memories, however.

Today's agenda includes a visit to the quilt shop and some of the gift shops and galleries in Moab. We may decide to head down to Canyonlands National Park. We spent quite a bit of time there on our last visit, however, and so we may decide to skip it. Last time we were here, we rented a jeep and took the lengthy Schafer Canyon Loop out to some beautiful canyons. It is a spectacular park, but is best seen in the back country by jeep. Here are some images from our last visit. These are some petroglyphs along the road the leads out to the Schafer Canyon Loop. 


This is the Schafer Canyon Overlook.


After driving most of the day, we came to this huge natural bridge spanning the river bed hundreds of feet below.


Here is a younger more svelte version of myself being bold and lounging on the bridge. Ordinarily, I would be too afraid of heights to do this, but there was ample room to walk out on the bridge without feeling certain my foot would somehow leap to the side and pull the rest of me over with it. On a good day, I could do a tap dance on a platform this large, but put hundreds of feet beneath me, and I suddenly cannot walk in a straight line.


So that's all I have for you today. I'm wanting to get ready for that quilt shop, which is at least as big a draw as the national parks. Our legs aren't up to any more hiking today, and so I'm guessing that the better part of the day will be spent exploring Moab. Tomorrow we are heading south to Capitol Reef National Park and the Grand Staircase Escalante.

14 comments from clever and witty friends:

Deb@asimplelifequilts said...

You are making me want to visit Utah in the worst way! Stunning photos.

Stray Stitches (Linda G) said...

That area of the country is so unique. One of my favorite things on our travels to New Mexico is all the interesting rock and mountain formations. Thanks for sharing :) Hope you have a great time at the quilt shop.

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Reminds me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.....giggle.

Great photos.

Betty said...

I think those ladies aren't gossipers, but quilters thinking of the wool batting they could get from the sheep! ;-) lol
Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos of a place I may never get to see in person.

WoolenSails said...

That is such a gorgeous place to visit and hike and you had the most beautiful weather to enjoy it. I have learned, never go without food and water, no matter how short you think the trip might be;)

Debbie

Sooli said...

Some beautiful photos you have there. I think the three gossips might just be quilt police - you never know!

quiltzyx said...

WOW!! I'm so glad the sunshine is staying with you. :D With those red stone formations, it makes for fabulous photos.

On that last shot (from the earlier trip), it looks like you're lounging on a giant surfboard to me, balancing on the skag! lol

Brown Family said...

We drove through Arches once. It was beautiful. I would have loved spending more time and doing some hiking!

Tami C said...

Looks like a really lovely place to visit! Thanks for taking us along with you and telling us all about the different rocks and formations.

Lyndsey said...

That looks a fabulous place to visit with all those rock formations. i thought it was only me who went completely silly when several feet off the ground.

Dana Gaffney said...

Wow, it's all stunning. I literally LOL'd about the marching band, that would get me up and out very quickly.
I'm sure it's not the sheep's fault.

Little Quilt Shop said...

Ok, got a question....When are you going to Tebow?!!....I did last fall at the IU 50 yard line...able to be in stadium with my Daughter In Law taking pics of a coach and family that day!!...so fun! I believe I was there at age 15 with a family friends that took me along on their cross country trip to see a AF son in California....I got thrown into Lake Tahoe!!...I think I giggled toooo much with Joy!....Thanks so much for blessing us with your trip!!

Lynne said...

Spectacular scenery!

By the look of that sky, someone might need a new hat -- and soon!

Kate said...

Stunning scenery! We've photographed in the mountains in the southwest, and I've never seen bluer skies than when we were there.