Colorado and Utah by Car – Day 4 (Arches NP)

We are in Utah!

We left Parachute, Colorado, early in the morning as the sun was rising through the clouds and over the mountains.  This was what it looked like when the sunlight hit the mountains on the other side from where it was rising.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe first drove around the little town to explore. The kids were arriving at the elementary school for the start of the day.

This dog watched me quietly as I took took pictures from the dead-end road beside the building where it was tied to the railing. There must be people living in there.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe saw signs for small cannabis based businesses in town, but did not explore this further.

And then it was back on to Interstate 70 heading west. The scenery began to change as we entered Utah.  The speed limit increased to 80 miles an hour!  I do not remember having seen such a high speed limit anywhere else.  As we crossed the border we descended from a plateau into this massive plain with nothing to be seen for miles and miles around, with mountains in the far distance across the plain.  It was the wild west as I imagined it, as I am probably remembering from movies I saw as a kid.  It was the kind of scene I had seen in the 1980s when I had driven across the country with friends, when I said to myself that this was something I wanted to experience again in my life.

There were very few exits along the road with no signs of habitation beyond the exits, and signs that there were no services at these exits.  Best to fill up your gas (petrol) tank before heading this way.  We took the US highway 191 from the interstate to head down to Moab.  Speed limits were still very high on this road that ran straight and true for long stretches. We arrived at Arches National Park a little before noon to encounter long lines at the entrance.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter watching the movie at the Visitor Center, we took the ranger’s advice and drove the park road all the way to its end to do a hike to see some arches. This is what it looked like as we climbed the road away from the visitor center. US 191 and the visitor center are below us.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ranger had told us that this would be about a four mile hike, but it ended up being more than six miles because of various detours to see arches away from the main trail.  We had trouble finding parking when we reached the place to start the hik.  We finally found a spot beyond the parking lot just beside the road.  The place was packed!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe hike was an adventure – including scrambling up rocks and walking on narrow ledges.  We were extremely tired at the end of it.  Here are some pictures.

This was the initial part of the walk towards the arches.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is called the Pine Tree Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShown in the picture below is the most difficult part of the hike.  You had to walk up the rock and it was quite steep.  You depended on the grip on your shoes to keep you in place. The presence of sand did not help.  When coming down, it was advantageous to sit on ones butt as needed!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is called the Landscape Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were plenty of places where you had to walk along the sloping side of a big slab of rock, or go down the side of a huge rock.  You had to be paying attention to make sure you did not fall.  It was interesting to see the sure-footed fathers carrying their babies in their baby carriers while navigating these sections while the mothers looked on.  Most of these families seemed to be from Europe.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Navajo Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is called the Partition Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWalking on a ledge like this can be scary, and perhaps terrifying, if you are afraid of heights, especially since these ledges are very high above the surrounding area.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Double O Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis picture is taken from a viewpoint.  This was what you saw to one side while walking on the ledge shown in one of the pictures above.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome scrambling down the rocks was required.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA lot of the rocks had shapes that you could let your imagination go wild with.  This one is an ogre who is in pain!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA After the hike, we started to drive back to the entrance of the park.  We stopped to take a picture of the snow covered La Sal mountains in the background.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped off at another place to see a few other arches. Here is the Turret Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand here are the North and South Window Arches.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the Double Arch.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sun was beginning to set at that point and we headed out of the park to our hotel room in Moab.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arches in Arches National Park are constantly changing because of the effect of the environment.  They will all naturally collapse at some time or the other.  The rocks are primarily Sandstone, and the geology of the place is due to that fact that this used to be a salt sea in ages past  The salt has compressed, but it is not very stable, especially in the presence of water.

I was quite tired yesterday evening after having walked over 8 miles, some of it in difficult conditions.  We went to the diner in front our our hotel for dinner and realized too late that they did not serve beer. But I was too tired to consider changing restaurants. We have one more evening in Moab. We can be more careful this time.

It rained overnight but the weather seems to be clearing for our outing today to Canyonlands National Park.

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Kuriacose Joseph

I am an engineer by training. I am exploring new horizons after having spent many years in the Industry. My interests are varied and I tend to write about what is on my mind at any particular moment in time.

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