Visiting Arches: Arch Enemy #1

Christina 5-3-09 061Arches National Park is a great place to go when the mountains are still covered in snow and ice. This red, arid desert just outside of Moab, Utah is amazing.

Here you will find odd shaped sandstone formations, fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks and, or course…arches (duh)—it has over 2,000 of them.

We met some relatives here for spring break a couple years ago. Having left a relatively warm Idaho, we expected nice warm weather farther south…but that’s not what we got.

In northern Utah we hit a blizzard.  Luckily, the snow didn’t follow us to Arches…but the wind did. Gale force winds.  Unceasing shrieking winds never make camping easy.  It’s hard to cook, it’s hard to make a campfire, and it’s hard to sleep.  Boo!  Who would have thought camping in the desert in March could be so bone-chilling! Yowzers! We ate our meals huddled in our vans or tents.

P1000134WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!    Now camping is about family togetherness…right?  Well, heed my warning if you don’t want your family to be broken up by ARCH ENEMY #1.  There is a luring siren nearby that tempts some people away from  Arches.  This evil siren is called MOAB.


If you bike or 4-wheel there once, you’ll be addicted for life (so my husband and daughter tell me).

The slickrock trails of Moab make bikers like my husband attention-deficit in Arches.  They don’t want to hike to another arch with the family…they are jittery and bite their lips and sweat as they think about their bike and those good-grip sandstone trails just 20 minutes away that they are missing.

Finally, you realize they might die if they don’t go mountain bike in Moab…so you tell them to get…and they don’t argue with you.  That’s how the disease works.

My husband fell prey to ARCH ENEMY #1…and that led to the following traumatic experience!  I was preparing dinner one afternoon while everyone else was gone.  With the gale force winds the temperature had to be in the 20’s…and I sat there working with a bag of icy chicken and had to wash my hands in even icier campground water straight from the Antarctic.  Smart!  My fingers ached; I thought they might fall off.  I cursed that frozen chicken; I cursed the wind; I cursed the fact that everyone else had gone hiking and my husband had gone off with his girlfriend, Lola (AKA–his mountain bike).

P1000131Meanwhile, my husband was having a grand old time on the famous Slickrock Trail.  See the lines painted over the rocks?  That’s so he wouldn’t get lost and find his way back to his aching-fingered wife in Arches.  I’m telling you, Moab is evil!

I eventually got over my bitterness (about a day later when my hands thawed out…and Lola was locked up).  But heed my warning with bikes.  Don’t bring them…and tell your certain someone:

“Moab?  Oh, I think that’s 5 hours away on the other side of the state.  Seriously!  Now come hike to Completely Cool Arch with me, honey.”

Arches really is a great place to camp and hike.  Don’t let my frozen chicken finger bitterness nor my jealousy of my husband’s other woman deter you.  Here are some of my favorite places/hikes in Arches:

Park Avenue is the first major attraction you come to in the park.  It’s a 2 mile round trip trail that follows the bottom of a canyon at the feet of some of the park’s gigantic, and well-known monoliths:  The Courthouse Towers, Queen Nefertiti, Queen Victoria Rock, The Three Gossips, The Organ, and the Tower of Babel.  Aren’t those great?  I love creative names like those—not boring ones like some beaches in the northwest (Beach #1, Beach #2…how pathetic!)

English: Tower of Babel in Arches National Par...

Image via Wikipedia

Balanced Rock is just what its name implies—a big bad rock (the size of 3 school buses) just balancing on a tinier rock.  I love when things snub their nose at Physics…or gravity…or Rock ‘N Roll.

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Double Arch–This name is not overly creative—but it is descriptive.  Here’s MacDonalds in the desert…but you won’t find any Big Macs.  You might get a few burrs in your socks…or hot sand…or a gnat up your nose (ick!).  But it’s all worth it to get a picture ‘your way.’

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Landscape Arch –This is the largest arch in the world at 290.1 feet.  It beat Kolob Arch in Zion by only 3 feet (oh, my poor Zion. Don’t worry…I still love you most).  This graceful arch has a thin center.  You can see pieces of this arch that have broken off over the last few centuries; some of these chunks are the size of automobiles.  When I hike near an arch, I think, “Oh, please, hold together, lovely arch!  I don’t want my tombstone to read:   ‘She was squished by 2 tons of Rolling Stones.’” (I really don’t like the Rolling Stones; I’m more of a Beetles fan…but I don’t want to die from them either)

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Delicate Arch is my favorite hike here.  This famous lone-standing arch has become the symbol of Utah.  It’s a 3 mile round-trip hike that goes over some incredibly scenic and rugged terrain.  The Arch is hidden in a bowl at the top of one of the park’s famous sandstone fins.  It’s so cool…and kind of gives you vertigo as you look down on it from the rim.

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I’ll wrap up this post now…but stay tuned for Part 2.  I’ll post some more incredible sights and give you advice on how to claim your biker family member back from ARCH ENEMY #1–the tentacles of Moab!  It is possible…but there’s a lot of screaming and struggling involved.


12 thoughts on “Visiting Arches: Arch Enemy #1

  1. I really need to visit more of the Western states. I’ve been to Washington and briefly Oregon, but that’s about it. That part of Utah looks beautiful. Thanks for opening my eyes to a new area. Beautiful photos!

  2. I’ve been to the deserts in Arizona and southern California, but no trips to Utah yet. They are amazing places, aren’t they? But camping and cold weather do not sound like a good combination to me 😉

    Beautiful photos! And I hope your family doesn’t get “lost” permanently out there!

    • Utah has some gorgeous landscapes! My whole family did make it back in one piece. Now my husband keeps suggesting we do a family reunion to Arches with the extended family (but I’m on to him. He only wants to go there for the mountain biking in Moab again…which, truthfully, I don’t blame him. The trails are incredible there.)

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  5. I love Arches, but it’s such a long drive to get there. WE went one in March too but we had snow in Moab and ARches. It looked really pretty covered in snow, but wasn’t too fun because the trails were all too icy to hike so we had to just look at everything from the car – they are slick without ice and snow!

  6. I really enjoyed reading your post. I laughed so hard when you were describing your husband’s obsession with the other woman (his bike). He is lucky you didn’t pounce on his bike when he got back to your frosted fingers. Stunning photos. I hope to visit those areas someday!

    • Thanks, Rayya. I’ve learned to live with my husband’s other woman. It keeps him happier. I hope you can visit this area someday too. It’s pretty spectacular.

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