Arches

Picture of arches_skyline This was our second visit to Arches National Park in eastern Utah (the first has a page as well). Different time of year and no dog in the car meant we focused on the slightly longer hike to Delicate Arch. The view here includes Turret Arch and the La Sal Mountains in the background.
Picture of mill_canyon But first.. before entering Arches we visited Mill Canyon which is just west of Arches (you can see much of Arches from the Mill Canyon area). We stopped here primarily for the dinosaur trail and the dinosaur tracks. The dinosaur trail features a variety of bones located in the rock they were found in (unexcavated). In this picture the horizontal purple streak top center is the leg bone of a Camarasaurus. Once you see a few of them it becomes easy to pick them out all over the area.
Picture of determination_towers There is also a short hike near the Courthouse Rock campground that leads to area with well-preserved dinosaur footprints. This view is of the odd rock formation called Determination Towers which is deeper into Mill Canyon.
Picture of park_avenue Back to Arches now. Once you've entered the park and driven up the switchbacks onto the plateau, the first hiking option is this one --- Park Avenue. This is about a 1 mile trail that connects from the main park road to further down the main park road. I dropped off the family at one end, drove to the other trailhead and then hiked back to meet them. This is a very scenic canyon (and shaded in the morning and evening).
Picture of balanced_rock Balanced rock is a popular centerpiece in the park. It's, well, a balanced rock. This a short hike worth taking not just for the views of this rock but also much of the park can be seen from here.
Picture of petroglyphs As mentioned above, our primary focus was the hike to Delicate Arch we had failed to do on our previous visit. This hike is about 3 miles (5 km) each way. it starts out across the canyon floor where there are petroglyphs easily visible. After that the hike heads up an open rock face towards the arch.
Picture of delicate_trail Near the end this hike has a lot of exposure as it hugs the side of the mountain. When you see this, you are nearly there.
Picture of delicate_arch Delicate Arch is one of the most picturesque and fascinating arches (and there are many) largely because it is completely freestanding with no support walls. The rock here is very open but it's at a considerable angle and would probably be very difficult footing with even a tiny bit of precipitation.
Picture of window_frame Back before the ledge section of the hike is a scramble up to a 'window' overlooking Delicate Arch. The window looks like this from below and it is a considerable scramble to get to the top. It doesn't require ropes but is likely to require some climbing.
Picture of delicate_from_window Once there you have this fabulous view of the arch and the surrounding mountains.
Picture of double_arch There are many arches scattered across the park, and many more scattered across the surrounding areas of Moab and other National Parks. This is Double Arch inside the park. It may be difficult to tell from this angle but there is one arch into the cavern and another leading out to the left. Note the people at the bottom for scale.
Picture of turret_arch From the same parking lot as Double Arch, you can get to Turret Arch and a couple of windows.
Picture of north_window This is North Window which is very easily accessed. This trail continues to South Window and on to Turret Arch. There is also a primitive trail (with cairn markers) that goes behind these formations and wraps around to the parking lot again. The back side of the rock is the only real way to see both windows at the same time.

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