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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Hiking Arches National Park

The Grand Ciricle is a series of national parks that can certainly be visited one at a time, but are many times put together in one great, or grand rather, trip around the Colorado Plateau throughout Utah, Arizona and Colorado. On this road trip I visited the four that are traditionally included in the Grand Ciricle – Arches, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Mesa Verde – along with a few others that are more than worth a look. The first stop one I stopped at was Arches National Park.
Since moving to Colorado ten years ago, and my trip to the Olympics with my father in 2002, I’ve wanted to see Arches National Park. Because it’s so close though, it’s always been one of those things that I’ll get to whenever; I really wanted to go, yet I was in no rush since it was always within such convenient reach. Well, on this road trip, I made it a priority to stop there as it was the biggest reason as to why I was driving to Las Vegas instead of flying. Unfortunately though, with all I wanted to fit in on the trip in terms of seeing the highlights of places, I was only able to spend a solide half day in the park.
My first stop, as I’m sure is the case with most visitors, was to see the Delicate Arch. As it is on the Utah state license plates, it is definitely the most famous arch in the park. So, without a doubt, I wanted to make this the priority – if I was only going to see one arch, the damn it I was going to see this one.
I headed first to the overlook area thinking that it’d be a good idea to check it out from afar before going up close. I was given a recommendation against this, and should’ve definitely listened. The arch was so far off that it wasn’t really worth the climb up the hill to see it. I never really felt cheated in time though as I still had plenty to see other things I wanted to in the park. In hindsight though, I’m learning to be a better listener when it comes to the advice of people who have been there and done that.
The trail up to the arch, so it is written, is about a mile and a half long. The thing of it is though, it’s uphill the whole way on a tough trail. I would’ve done it had it been five miles one way, but if you’re thinking on doing it make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks as it can be tough and require some stops. Thankfully, on my hike, I was able to make it without any real difficulty, but I attribute that to the fact that it was March and the temperatures were mild. There’s no way I would want to do that hike in July or August when it’s so much hotter outside.
I admired the beauty of the arch for quite some time, swapping some stories with other hikers, and enjoyed the view from the top of the hill. It’s a gorgeous area where it’s possible to also see the Balanced Rock (below), as well as another couple of arches off in the distance. I didn’t see a ranger to ask specifically which arches were visible, but my guess would be the North Window Arch (below) based on the proximity to the Balanced Rock.

On the way down the trail from the Delicate Arch I stopped to check out some cool Ute Indian rock art nearby. It didn’t really add to the length of the hike, but I wouldn’t have minded as it was worth a quick stop to check it out.
My next greatest priority after the Delicate Arch was the Double Arch. I was intrigued with the idea that there were two arches somehow hooked together. After all, it’s pretty awesome to think of the forces of erosion creating one arch, but two just seemed unimagineable to me for some reason. The thing of it is though, there’s not just the two arches there together, there’s more. But, to be clear, the double arch is the two arches together. The other arches I’m mentioning are others that are easily within walking distance on some short trails from the parking lot – the whole area is really a cluster of some amazing arches and other beautiful rock formations.

After getting out of my car I headed up to the Windows Arches (above) and Turet Arch (below) trail. Since they were the closest I figured I’d stop to see them first. I was really quite impressed with all three, especially in comparison to the Delicate Arch. The Delicate Arch is much farther along in its erosion process, whereas it’s easy to see the thicker tops to these three make them a bit newer, albeit is thousands upon thousands of years old.

The Double Arch is just a quick walk back through the parking lot and down a short trail. Along the trail it’s possible to spot other areas where arch erosion may be taking place. I found this quite fascinating as I was seeing the beginning of what might be an incredibly popular attraction thousands of years from now.
The view of the Double Arch was amazing in the cloudless day. I was quite impressed with it, even to a point of reverence, and sat there for a good while admiring it. Some people were climbing up under the arch, off where the trail ends, which rather bothered me as it made a picture difficult and seemed to be a bit disrespectful of the beauty. Of course there are no signs saying you can’t climb up there, so I don’t think it’s against the rules, but I was annoyed by it nonetheless as even slight damage from many visitors can cause problems for future ones.
If I had more time in the park I would’ve headed down to the Fiery Furnace or the Devils Garden areas, but it was running late – well past lunch – and I needed to be on my way. Now that I know what I know, I’ll definitely make it a point to head back to Arches National Park to see more, and make those two areas my first stops.

On my way out on this visit, I stopped at a scenic overlook called the Garden of Eden (above). It’s offers a beautiful view of the Windows Section of the park with the mountains in the back. I was so in awe of the view while driving to the Windows that I totally missed the pull off for the overlook. Literally, when I passed around a corner and saw that view, my jaw dropped as I uttered a cuss word or two in amazement. It’s stop that I’ll be sure not to miss on a return journey as it’s worth a few hours of enjoyment over a picnic.
My last stop out of the park was to see the Balanced Rock. I drove by it on my way down to the Delicate Arch, and wanted to check it out on my way out of the park. It was really a pretty cool site too as this rock is, well, balanced on top of another in such a precarious way that I wondered if it’d actually fall while I was watching it.
Like the arches and the Balanced Rock that I saw, I drove by a great many beautiful things on the way in and out that I wasn’t able to stop and appreciate better. This ends up being one of those “another time” things once again, but one that I’ll not hesitate to take advantage of as the park is really quite impressive. It’s too bad that I didn’t have more time, but I wanted to get on and see the southern part of Canyonlands National Park as the pictures I saw were quite impressive for that area.

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