“Oh! Would you look at that!”
That was what my Dad said when we entered Arches National Park for the first time. It’s a thought I absolutely second because Arches is one of the most amazing parks on Earth. It’s in my top twenty of places everyone should visit at some point in their lives. It’s located in Moab, Utah, which is home to several other amazing sites. Arches itself is more than 100 square miles of breathtaking landscapes and rock formations you won’t tire of exploring. Topping this list is the world famous “Delicate Arch.”
The hike to Delicate Arch is something almost anyone can do, even though it can take a little while. My Dad was 65 when we hiked it, and he had no problem other than taking our time and not rushing. It’s 1.5 miles each way (three miles round trip), with a steady elevation gain, and at a comfortable walking pace, takes about an hour to get from the parking lot to the Arch. Once there, people are courteous and take turns getting their picture under the massive sixty-foot tall rock. I shot this one of Dad and had a little fun in Photoshop to enhance the drama of the location:
While Delicate Arch is a definite must-see, there are actually more than 2,000 arches in the park and many hikes and trails mapped out by the National Park Service. You can see the official map by clicking here.
But Arches is much more than that.
While Dad and I had a spectacular time visiting the park, going on several hikes and taking lots of pictures, it’s really much more about the fact that this is a place you can get away from it all. I’ve talked about this in other posts. It’s a place where you can experience the quiet of the world you don’t often get in other places.
And when I say quiet… I mean q u i e t.
You can walk for a bit, find your own comfortable rock to sit on, and after you get settled and still… hear nothing. No traffic, no electrical lines, no people, no planes, no noise other than the occasional breeze and your own breathing. It can be a little unsettling at first, but then your mind begins to wander and you realize that for the thousands upon thousands of years we’ve been walking this planet, most of the people before this modern era knew a world like that one… a world of quiet and stillness… when they weren’t being eaten by dinosaurs, fighting off the latest plague or warring over lands, that is. But you get the point.
In that moment, I think a part of us reaches back in time and touches something deeply rooted in our DNA. I think a part of the loneliness we sometimes feel in the modern world is us missing that connection. It is for me, at least. And I think that level of honesty is important.
Arches is such a special place that I’ve gone back multiple times. Jolene and I made a road trip there when we were first dating and it was another awesome experience. That’s what sets Arches apart from so many other destinations… you can visit it again and again, and never get tired of it.
Of course, we took FatBird with us, and he jumped at the chance to get some rays while we were hiking. But he also knew how important proper sunscreen is, especially in the desert!
So let’s talk about the reality of a visit. Here are some things you should know:
1) Off season is better. Less people, reasonable temperatures, and mind-boggling starry nights.
2) The more popular hikes like Delicate Arch are going to have a lot of people no matter what. Know that going in and prepare accordingly. Allow extra time, etc.
3) This is not a place to be in a hurry. You’ll be driving some distance between hikes and vistas.
4) You can see enough in one day to have an amazing visit, but I think you should allow two days or more to really take it all in.
5) It’s the desert. Bring a lot of water no matter when you go.
6) Sunscreen. Sunscreen. Sunscreen.
7) Definitely check the U.S. National Park website before you go for any closures or other notices here.
8) Book as far ahead of time as you can for lodging in Moab as it’s one of the most popular destinations in the West and books up early.
9) Turn your phone on airplane mode and disconnect from the world for a while. You’ll be glad you did.
10) If you really want to enjoy the desert at Arches, grab a campsite and setup a tent for a couple of days. There’s only one campsite inside the park, several others around Moab.
Enjoy! I hope your visits are as magical as mine have been!
Moonbird’s Helpful Info:
Arches National Park
Website: Arches National Park, U.S.A.
Location: Moab, Utah
Google Maps: Click here
Best time to visit: Anytime. Summer months are extremely hot.
North America’s Seasons are: Spring: March, April and May, Summer: June, July and August, Autumn: September, October and November, and Winter: December, January and February.