It’s called Arches National Park for a reason. But arches aren’t the only thing to see there. The place is full of all sorts of interesting rock formations. The park doesn’t really have any big hikes or backpacking opportunities, which I normally like to do. But after my two adventures in the nearby Canyonlands National Park, I was happy to just do the scenic drive and take pictures

Arches is big, but not gigantic. In a few hours you can do the entire scenic drive. The hikes to the sites such as the famous Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch are pretty short. It’s possible to see most of it in a day.

But more time is always better. As I’ve said before, my favorite thing about (most of) our national parks is that they are non-commercial. With the exception of Yellowstone, there’s nobody trying to sell tours. When the National Park Service ofers a tour, they provide it at cost, and have a ranger, not a contractor, lead it. Needless to say, these cheap tours led by an expert fill up fast. So I was happy to have secured a spot in the Fiery Furnace Tour for $10.

Landscape Arch glows in the morning.
Landscape Arch glows in the morning.

These pinnacles are named for the fact that they glow bright red in the afternoon light, not because they are particularly hot. In fact, it was rather cool among the rocks. Our guide knew his stuff, and taught us some basic canyoneering. Very basic, in fact, but it was still fun to learn a little bit about how to get around in narrow canyons. Some day it would be fun to return to this rugged land and go on a full canyoneering expedition.

After visiting Arches, my time in Utah was at a close. I had visited all five national parks in this state, navigating the so called Grand Circle. But I hadn’t even come close to seeing all that Utah has to offer. I was focused on national parks, but most of the state is made up of national forrest, state parks, monuments, and public land that I didn’t make it to. The nearby town of Moab has all sorts of things to do that I didn’t manage to fit into my schedule. Utah truly is a state full of wonders that you could spend a lifetime exploring.

But a new state beckoned on my long drive back to Indiana. I would be making my third visit to Colorado, but visiting three national parks I had never been to before. This would be the final stretch of #TerryTreksUSA.

Delicate Arch is perched precariously on the edge of a bowl.
Delicate Arch is perched precariously on the edge of a bowl.
I spent an afternoon in the Fiery Furnace.
I spent an afternoon in the Fiery Furnace.
The arches come in all shapes and sizes.
The arches come in all shapes and sizes.
Some arches are very small, and some are very large.
Some arches are very small, and some are very large.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

2 comments

  1. It is evident from your photos that you had great weather while in Arches. I chuckled at your statement, “It’s possible to see most of it in a day.” I spent five days there and certainly did not see it all. Of course I take LOTS of photos, and doing 360° panoramas takes time. My 7 mile hike through Devil’s Garden was about eight hours. I didn’t see Dark Angel because a storm blew in while I was at Double O Arch. I did go ahead and hike the primitive loop trail back and even took the side trail to Private Arch. Along the way back the rain stopped and the sun even came out.

  2. You’re right Richard, I didn’t do everything in the Arches. I felt like I was able to drive to all the highlights in a day, but there’s certainly a lot of hiking to do too!

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