How to spend a day in Arches National Park

Arches National Park is iconic, with all of the insane natural sights in Utah – Delicate Arch takes the license plate. Leaving the streets of Moab behind and climbing into the mountains, it won’t be long until alien monuments and the lovely La Sal mountains creep into view.

arches_national_park_1 arches_national_park_2Drive slow by balanced rock, guess how long that weight will stay poised on its thin column.

arches_national_park_blance_rockStop at Windows Arches to take a warm up hike. In just a short one mile trail there is so much wonder to see. The hike is really more of a walk, very little elevation gain here. You may spot Turret Arch first, be sure to take a detour to view this uniquely sculpted arch.

arches_national_park_windows_2Continue on to view Windows, quite a spectacle.

arches_national_park_windows_4Get up close and marvel at the shape which looks much like an eye, the window to a soul.

arches_national_park_windows_3Look beyond the arch for a slew of plateaus in all shades of blue.

arches_national_park_windows_1Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, we saw both predator and prey on this short trail.

arches_national_park_windows_ arches_national_park_double_arch_1At the same trailhead across the street you should take the time to check out Double Arch as well. From the distance across the street what I thought was Double Arch didn’t seem too different from Windows. I almost passed up walking the short .5 route down to check it out.

arches_national_park_double_arch_That would have been a blunder, because my take on Double Arch was incorrect. Upon closer scrutiny I realized it wasn’t the two arches next to one another that was the draw here, but just the single arch on the left which was so peculiarly divided.

arches_national_park_double_arch_2Don’t pass this signature arch up, it also happens to be the tallest arch in the park! Next hike down the road, driving slow taking in the views,

arches_national_park_33 arches_national_park_55 arches_national_park_44was the quintessential Arches hike, the road to Delicate Arch. Those who wanted to view the arch from the look out were out of luck this day as recent flooding made the road impassable. The only way to see the arch on the day we visited was by hiking. The trail is three miles round trip and moderately strenuous. We crossed over some murky water, passed some grassy hills, and made it to the strangely smooth pink rocks we would be climbing over.

arches_national_park_delicate_arch_ arches_national_park_delicate_arch_1Follow the rock cairns (piles of rocks) to find your way. Keep chugging uphill, on narrow passage ways, over rocky valleys, and when you pass this thick little arch you’re almost there.

arches_national_park_delicate_arch_2We burst out onto the amphitheater breathing heavy from exertion or maybe excitement and got our first glimpse of Delicate Arch.

arches_national_park_delicate_arch_3We were so lucky to have come on a gorgeous November day, quiet, early, and had a lot of time with the arch on our own. I can imagine the crowds to get a good picture during peak season, oof! There are so many different ideas and angles to shoot this arch: have someone grab one of your under the arch, get a close up of you and the arch from the rim of the amphitheater, make the arch as narrow or wide as you can, or lay on your back and get a picture of how delicate and thin the arch really is against the huge sky.

delicate_arch_photoThe possibilities are fun and endless, take your time enjoying this icon – you’ve earned it. Head back out the way you came, exploring every nook and cranny on the trail.

arches_national_park_delicate_arch_9Feeling inspired we continued on, ready for more arches, could they really be any different? Devils Garden is where the road ends and you must take to the trails to see what’s ahead.

arches_national_park_landscape_arch_It’s an easy and lovely hike to get to Landscape Arch, 1.6 miles roundtrip on a well maintained trail. When you get there you can understand why you aren’t allowed to stand under the arch, it is so thin!

arches_national_park_landscape_arch_3 arches_national_park_landscape_arch_4This is one of the longest natural stone spans in the world. Guarding the arch was a funny little raven who we stopped to observe.

arches_national_park_landscape_arch_5This particular one was worth noting, it made the most peculiar noises click clacking as if mimicking like horse hooves, and completely comfortable with our presence. What an interesting behavior. You could turn back down and have had a wonderful hike, but we decided to continue on to Double O Arch. The trail becomes less obvious here and more strenuous. Start by scaling up a smooth slender slab of rock.

arches_national_park_double_o_arch_Hopefully you have good boots on, this day after heavy rains ours kept getting coated with wet sand killing any semblance traction. The going was a bit slower due to this. The views are incredible when you get above it all.

arches_national_park_double_o_arch_1 arches_national_park_double_o_arch_2Keep trekking and Double O will appear to you.

arches_national_park_double_o_arch_6What an awesome, weird, amazing arch. The funky striations, the varying sizes, admire it – but beware! Quite recently a huge hunk of this arch fell, so stand under it at your own risk. On the way back maybe you’ll be a bit more observant, noticing strange features you somehow missed on the way to the arch.

arches_national_park_landscape_arch_6 arches_national_park_double_o_arch_9 arches_national_park_double_o_arch_10When you hit the road,

arches_national_park_double_o_arch_14stop off at any spot which pulls you as you leave.

arches_national_park_double_o_arch_15 arches_national_park_double_o_arch_16Everything looks new and different when you change directions, this is certainly a majestic road to travel. Arches is a one of a kind land you could spend a lifetime exploring. These are just a few of the must see sights in the park, if you only have one day to spend.

The town of Moab has no shortage of tasty food options while visiting Arches and Canyonlands:

Grab an early breakfast at Love Muffin Café

Take a picnic lunch from Sweet Cravings Bakery + Bistro

Have dinner at Milt’s Stop & Eat

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