We visited Arches National Park because we stayed in Moab whilst driving across the country. Or possibly the other way around. Either way Moab appears to be a very interesting place to spend some time - particularly some other time. Mid November is not exactly the high season and nearly everything was closed. Of course it was also bitterly cold and all forms of precipitation were taking turns. Arches though is an impressive place to look at even if you are hiding in a warm car. This formation is called the three gossips.
Arches, like so much of Utah is composed of lots of strata of sandstone and assorted ancient rivers have had their way with it. This area is called the petrified dunes for obvious reasons, but really it's the outlandish clumps of sandstone that get all the attention.
Arches is also not just about arches -- there are windows too. The difference is subtle and really only of great use to geologists having arguments in bars (which close at 9:00 in November). This is a window basically because it has a sandstone bottom.
Windows and arches form from water of course, they start out as little holes and slowly the stone around the hole decays and pieces fall off and eventually there's an arch, and then the arch collapses and there's just two towers and some large rocks on the ground. All evolutionary stages of the arch lifecycle are on display here.
This, like the picture above, is double arch, one of the more impressive arches. Just how many are there? Well, it's staggering, and some of them are hidden in obscure corners of the park that require four-wheel drive vehicles and good weather and long arduous hikes. Or all three.
Delicate Arch, seen here from a distance, is the most popular short hike and sort of the token logo arch of the national park. Those are people just to the left of it for scale purposes. We would've visited it, but we had to leave the dog in the car due to National Park restrictions which everyone else ignores but we feel obliged to follow so that we can complain about them later on this website. Anyway, we restricted ourselves to short hikes in the fierce winds and freezing rain that prevailed.
Canyon Arch is perhaps our favorite because there was no one else there. It requires a so-called canyon hike. A canyon hike looks like this. A sandy path through a narrow canyon that could theoretically be big trouble during wet weather. This particular canyon actually has quite a lot of openings and is not a major flash flood candidate.
The relatively hidden arch is located in sort of a side grotto off the main canyon. It's hard to get much of a picture of the whole thing at once, but it's a nice secluded spot to hide from the weather in.
By now, most readers have probably figured out that there are a lot of arches here. So here's the last one. This is skyline arch which is notable mostly for getting substantially larger in the early 20th century when a huge chunk fell out of it and made it more impressive.
The southern half of Utah is so full of national parks that they appear to have had to make boundaries so there was some place to put actual roads. It really doesn't mean a whole lot though. We took some smaller roads from Moab to Grand Junction through the little gorge of the Colorado River. This area is not a national park, a national waterway, or anything at all. Nevertheless it had some of the most spectacular campsites we'd ever seen. There are also assorted weird rock formations that have escaped the national parks and can be found down side trails in this area.