Arches National Park – Utah’s Star Attraction
Arches National Park – Utah’s Star Attraction
When locals proudly display a place on their license plates, you know there must be some magic there.
The state of Utah saw a surge in tourism ever since the Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. With several notable ski resorts, adventure activities amidst inviting deserts, and national parks borne out of Nature’s glory, Utah commands your attention from any part of the world. Not to take away any credit from the rest, but one place in particular stands out among all the attractions – the Arches National Park near the town of Moab.
How The Structures Came Into Existence
What started as a playground for wind and water some 300 million years ago has been molded into a playground for hiking, biking, climbing, writing, photography, rafting, and basically, every other passion a human may have. Evaporation of inland seas repeatedly has left thick debris of salt formations in this basin area near Colorado river. Sand and boulders made their way down through streams and blanketed the very same salt beds, and made the basin a layered cake of rock, sand, and salt.
Since the salt grains were less dense than the stone, they rose up from the surface to form domes and ridges with valleys in between. Soon, groundwater worked its magic and the sandstone domes collapsed, and vertical stone slabs stood tall (called as “fins”). Survival of the fittest applies here too, since the weaker sections of the walls give in while the stronger ones maintain their footing. All the imposing arches which visitors see in this park are a result of these simple acts of Nature.
A Magical World Of Timeless Beauty
Arches National Park has the highest cluster of these naturally sculpted marvels in the country- over 2,000 of them! Other formations of monoliths, fins, giant balanced rocks, spires, pinnacles, and slickrock domes add to the arches to make this park a magical world of timeless beauty. The off-set of towering salmon-coloured structures against the azure skies is a sight you have to stand beneath, not just look at on a screen.
A Walk Or A Drive?
The best part of this national park is that it can be explored on foot as well as through a scenic drive that takes you along all the famous spots and arches. There are trails for the seasoned hiker and for the couch potato. Park regulations allow for camping in some regions, rock climbing on some structures, and also for back-packing around. While the drive would allow you to take in the enormity of rocks from a wider angle, a walk would bring you up close and personal to soak in the sheer enormity of these stones.
What Makes Arches National Park So Distinguished?
Every place has that one thing which sets it apart. For Arches National Park, it is the ever-changing terrain that draws in tourists and travellers from the world over. The ball that got rolling millions of years ago never did stop, cause to date there are collapses of old structures and formations of new ones. For you to fully grasp the essence of that, here is an imaginative scene – one second you are taking a selfie with a sandstone dome rock in the back-ground, and next, that same dome has collapsed in places to form an arch! Arches National Park is a living breathing example of unpredictability!
Points to keep in mind for your visit:
- Expect to find more people during the time of sunset as compared to sunrise at Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the park.
- The high desert ecosystem puts on a brave front to show indestructibility and durability, but don’t buy into that. Foot traffic in the area has more of an impact on the fragile semi-arid land than it shows to the human eye. Please keep your feet off the crusty land off the trails, which looks like dead moss but is brimming with life organisms and preventing erosion.
- Carry all the water and sunscreen you can before you go past the visitor’s centre. The national park area is a vast stretch of desert land with the merciless sun glaring at everything solid, so shade will be a distant dream for you. Plus, for those who intend to walk, as well as those who don’t (impromptu plans happen), the rock surfaces in some places are extremely slippery, making it an extra effort to get to the top.
- Every corner, every angle, every change in step is expected to throw up a new frame for you, which you won’t want to leave for just the moment. You will want to capture it in your camera, so carry a lot of memory cards.
- April is the best month to visit here, cause of lower temperatures and lesser people to intrude on your photos and space.
- From March 1st to October 31st, 2017, it is expected that major construction projects will stall camping at Devil’s Garden- a popular camp-ground.
- Early morning and late afternoon is good for photography cause of the light which falls at those times.
- Manage your time well. Whatever you have planned, always keep 30-45 minutes as extra time, because this place has the capacity to surprise you out of nowhere.
- Don’t leave Delicate Arch immediately after the sun sets. Wait for a while to see the play of dusk on the distant La Sal mountains, which turn pretty shades of orange and pink as the sky darkens.
- While the more popular experiences involve the 58-kilometres road drive, the hike up to Delicate Arch, the North and South Window regions, the Park Avenue Trail, Double O Arch, Landscape Arch, Tower Arch, there are lesser-known trails such as the Primitive Loop and Sand Dune Arch that are marvels of their own.
The structures in Arches National Park are nothing short of Nature’s miracle, and they stand with grace to pose for all your cameras and for you. You will never do justice to them till you actually scamper up there and crane your neck all the way back while they tower upon your tiny human body. They’ve been around for millions of years, you probably won’t be.