Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hiking the Arches

Our first day of hiking in Moab was to target Arches National Park.  We were a bit conflicted as there were some longer hikes that we would have liked to have done, but we were hesitant with the boys and the high temperatures.  We also wanted to make sure that we hit the major areas in the park so we were a little limited.  The most popular hike in the park is the Delicate Arch Trail.  The hike is 3 miles round trip. The park categorizes it as strenuous, but I would say that it is easy/moderate depending on conditioning.  JD and I found it pretty easy.  It was manageable but some work for the boys.  The trail was extremely well marked and had some climbs, but they were not overly long.  The tricky part is that a lot of the climbs were along the slickrock so if it would have been wet I could imagine that it would be a bit more difficult.  The trail starts off at Wolfe Ranch.
Boys outside the one room cabin

Then there is a short loop that takes you out to some incredibly well preserved Ute petrogylphs.
As we got close to the 1 mile mark we could see Frame Arch that essentially frames Delicate Arch.
Then we had to navigate a tricky area that frankly terrified me as we were on slickrock that was slanted downwards towards a 60' drop into a sandstone bowl.  So if you hike this with children you need to be cautious.  It was worth the hike as Delicate Arch is simply amazing and worth seeing up close.

Delicate Arch
You need to start this hike early as it gets crowded very quickly.  We started at 7 am, and as we were heading back around 8:30-9 am the trail was quickly becoming very crowded.

Our second hike of the day was to Landscape Arch through the Devil's Garden Area.  This is the second most popular hike in the park.  This area was packed by 9 am.  The hike is about 1.5 miles round trip.  The trail is mostly packed gravel and extremely flat so this makes it all the more popular for tourists who want to see arches but aren't into hiking.  If I hadn't really wanted to see this arch, I would have skipped this hike as it was really just a walk on a packed nature trail.
Landscape Arch

We drove off onto a dirt road to have a quick picnic out of the back of the car before heading off to check out a few of the shorter trails.  Sand Dune Arch was a short walk and was great for kids as it is basically an arch with an enormous sand pit underneath it.  It's like a big shaded sandbox.

From there you can hike about 1.4 miles round trip to Broken Arch.  This is really flat and an easy hike, but it is very hot in the afternoon and offers no shade.
View of Broken Arch from trailhead
We were pretty much over the hordes of tourists by this point so we quickly checked out the Windows section and headed out of the park.  Overall we enjoyed Arches and the scenery, but we were not thrilled with the crowds.  I guess you can't expect anything different during the summer months, but we were spoiled by the solitude of Joshua Tree last year.

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