Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Take 1: Arches National Park~ The Windows & Delicate Arch

The first National Park we visited was Arches, only about 5 miles from downtown Moab, on the North side of town. We weren't sure what to expect, the only National Park we've visited is Joshua Tree, and (for us) it wasn't very exciting. We passed through the entrance gate to Arches ($10 for 7 days for vehicles, $5 for motorcyclists, bicyclists or walkers) and stopped off at the visitors center to get a little bit more information about the park and the absolute musts'. I talked to a Park Ranger named Mark and he was very helpful in giving me tips about where to start, marking them on the map that was provided at the gate, and what to see if we only had a couple of hours, then went on to give me more pointers for extended periods of time if we were to be in the park for more than just one day. The newspaper, they give you at the gate, also has a TON of great information about the park in it, for example; how long and strenuous (or easy) the hikes are. 

We left the visitors center and started driving up the hill to the mysteries that lie beyond the massive red rocks. Wow, what an amazing first impression ....this park is going to be super fun to explore! 
 Our first main stop was going to be right past Balanced Rock, which is really cool, to The Windows. 
 Luckily the parking lots have both compact parking as well as RV parking, so we were able to park without any problems due to the trailer. The park does not allow pets on any of the trails so the dogs had to stay behind in the van, but we have a nice set-up for them inside where they are well ventilated and safe, plus it really helped that the temperatures were nice and cool that day along with a breeze.  

 **Believe me, I'm VERY cautious when it comes to leaving my girls, they are my kids and I make sure they have thee most comfort they possibly can. They go into their room (crate) that has a full water bottle that cannot spill, fans directed on them as well as in a screened side window for ventilation/transferring of fresh air, & a temperature gauge. I open all of our small screened side windows and blacken out all of the big windows, including the front, with reflectix and/or thick upholstery curtains that keep heat/cold out. Joon van is set-up to be able to play the radio without running down the battery, so when I can I will leave the radio on for them so they don't get too lonely, we also do not leave them for long periods of time (due to mommy's separation anxiety). With this method when we come back to the van, they are usually laying on one another, chillin', not even panting, but still excited to see us!**
Alright back to The Windows.....
We parked and set out for our first awesome sight and whoa what a sight! The map says that there are all kinds of "things" that appear in the rocks, some of these include; Parade of Elephants, Aliens, Turrets, Ham, Praying hands, etc. Double Arch at the Windows is one of the easier, shorter hikes, it's about a mile or less (I did it in my flip flops but wished I would have worn closed toe shoes, so I could have climbed a little bit more). 
 You can see 5 Windows from the parking lot, so if you don't want to or can't walk you can still see the spectacular sight of the Windows (but there's nothing like walking underneath them)! 
Jamie is an itty bitty ant!!
 We walked around and under the arches, took some great pictures and tried to take it all in. These arches are just amazing, even sitting under them the view looking out is pretty great too, I don't think the pictures do them justice, but I tried! 

 There are over 2,500 Arches in the park, that have been counted. The Double Arch, that you see in the pictures with the larger opening, has a span of 144 feet (3rd longest in the park) and a height of 112 feet (the highest in the park). It's quite incredible.
 After gazing and shooting hundreds of pictures we thought we would drive around to check the park out a bit and grab a bite to eat. There are no restaurants in this park but they do provide two different picnic areas; Balanced Rock & Devil's Garden areas, where you can get out of the sun and enjoy a nice lunch, within these areas you will also find pit toilets and trash/recycling bins. We drove to the picnic area by Balanced Rock and made lunch; Philly cheese-steak fajitas!! I also changed into better shoes since my flippies were a big flop at the windows 👍 tee hee
After lunch we decided we would go see Delicate Arch. Parking was just a bit harder than the Windows, the spots were big enough but you could only pull in forward, our trailer is hard to back-up due to the short wheel base, but Jamie made it work. We rounded up the pups back into their room, grabbed one bottle of water (which we would regret later) and were on our way to Delicate Arch. There are two different approaches to the trail, the first you walk towards Wolfe Ranch, the second is a round-about where you can walk by Petroglyph's, we chose the latter. In hindsight we should have read the information kiosk to know how long the hike was up to Delicate Arch, we would have gone back and gotten more time! We walked to see the Petroglyph's which is just a small detour around to the trail, how cool that these drawings are still here!! 
 The park has roped off this part of the mountain so people cannot climb up and touch them, oils from our fingers and hands make these babies disappear much faster than usual. We thought we had a short hike ahead of us until we rounded a corner and saw people moving up and down this gigantic mountain, they looked like ants compared to how big this "hill" was! Should have read that kiosk, haha
The red circle are people!!!
 I was already scaring myself because I do not like walking up steep things nor do I like being high in the air on steep things! But, there I was starting to climb this tall mountain, thinking, "What the hell, Oh my gosh, I'm going to die!" haha It actually wasn't steep at all, just big and tall and (to me) scary, but I was still upright so everything was going to be okay. 
Starting the climb
 We also thought that Delicate Arch was just right over the hill....nope! By the time we got to the top my face was beet red (out of shape) so much that people were egging us on, giving their support and telling us, "It's okay honey, you're almost there, only about another 20 minutes...but it's worth it." Ummmm, another 20 minutes!!?? As we reached the top, it started to level off, feeling like you were flat on the ground, even though we were a good mile in the sky. The environment is very interesting up there, even though you are standing on this HUGE mountain of slick rock, there are plants, Juniper trees, shrubs, even cactus and just goes to show that life can live anywhere! 
 My knee started getting a little weak on me before we reached the arch, due to an injury long ago, so I sat down for a few minutes. This moment was perfect to take in this part of the hike, it was so quiet and serene, like we were the only ones on the mountain that day.
After resting, we started back on the trail and reached our destination just a few short minutes after. Since we had only seen where the arch was on the map and didn't stop by the kiosk, we didn't know what to expect. We turned that last corner to a vast funnel-like opening to see our treasure, Delicate Arch and YES, it was totally worth the hike! 
 Not only is the Arch amazing, the view behind it and all around us was out of this world. 
 I am proud to say that I was brave enough, with the help of Jamie of course, to go take a picture underneath the arch! I'm so glad I did it, even if I did crawl over there, haha Definitely a once in a lifetime for me. 
 We sat there for a while talking, gazing and helping others capture the moment by swapping pics for pics under the arch. Man, what an experience! I'm glad I braved it with Jamie, although he isn't scared like I am, he is so patient with me and helped me every second of the climb up and down. 

 On our way back down dark clouds started to roll in, which was very welcome to us due to only bringing that one bottle of water, we got some sprinkles but nothing too bad. The entire hike from start to finish was about 3 miles, taking us 2 hours...and as I read on the map later one of the more strenuous hikes! ha... figures.
Wolfe Ranch was on our way back to the parking lot so we stopped by to check it out. The ranch consists of two weathered log cabins, one much smaller than the other; used for a root cellar, along with a corral. Seeing these cabins from the 1800's definitely gives you a look into the past, it's amazing they are still here and standing!

 Happy to be back on solid ground, back at the van with the pups and resting my knee, the rain started...perfect timing! We decided that we had a full packed day and we would have to come back another day to do the parts of the park we didn't get to today. We drove the last bit of the park and around the Devil's Garden Campground. 
 The campground has 52 sites (all were full), water and flush toilets. Reservations for the campground must be made at least four days in advance; for more information you can visit or call the information line at #435-719-2299.
I think camping here for a night or two would be out of this world, but this time around we are off to find a spot on BLM for the night and maybe even a couple of days for rest.
Come back for more of Arches National Park and my scardy cat like ways...maybe (if you're lucky) you'll even get to see a short video of me crawling around like a spider! :)

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  1. Hi,

    Really enjoy following along on your travel and vlogs. What a wonderful place to visit.

    Take care,