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Arches National Park - Utah - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 Arches National Park

 


Located just five miles north of Moab, Arches National Park contains the largest concentrations of sandstone arches in the world. The 73,379 acre park is home to over 2,000 arches including world famous Delicate Arch and arguably the world's largest arch, Landscape.

Tower of Babel, Arches National Park, Utah, Copyright 1999 - 2000, OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights ReservedAccess to the park is gained off of US Highway 191 where visitors can drive along 24 miles of paved road. Visitors are immediately greeted by a spectacular view of the La Sal Mountains to the east from the La Sal Viewpoint. The road then continues northward into the park past the Tower of Babel, The Three Gossips, The Organ and Sheep Rock. All are visible from the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint.

As you drive along the park road the Petrified Sand Dunes stretch across the park to the east. They really aren't sand dunes by sculpted sandstone structures that resemble rolling dunes at a beach along the ocean shore. To the west the Great Wall, a sandstone formation, looms like an awesome barrier to a massive fortress. About nine miles into the park visitors are treated to Balanced Rock. A short looped hiking trail allows you to walk around this massive spire.

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah, Copyright 1999 - 2000, OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights ReservedAcross from Balanced Rock you can go west along a dirt road into Willow Flats or northwest to Herdina Park and out to Klondike Bluffs. The sand is very soft so it is critical to stay on the road at all times and keep a sharp eye out for bad weather. These roads can become impassible when it rains, even for a four-wheel drive vehicle. If you take the trip to Klondike Bluffs in the northwestern corner of the park, you will have to return through Salt Valley.

If you head north from Balanced Rock you can turn east into the Windows Section of the park and the Garden of Eden. It is here you can see a number of spectacular arches and enjoy several short hikes. One trail is a short loop that gives you access to North and South Window as well as Turret Arch. Head east along the loop trail and then turn south toward the North Window. If you look directly west through the North Window, a massive stone arch, you will be able to see Turret Arch in the distance. The trail continues south and passes the South Window before looping westward and then back north toward the parking lot. On your way north you can take a short spur trail out to incredible Turret Arch with its massive arch on one side and a small round window next to it. While in the Garden of Eden you can take another short trail out to spectacular Double Arch. Double Arch is actually two separate arches that form a natural amphitheater below the massive stone structures.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, OutdoorPlaces.Com, Copyright 1999 - 2000, All Right ReservedIf you continue north into the park you can head east again on another spur road to Wolf Ranch and world famous Delicate Arch. From Wolf Ranch you can take a moderate 1.5 mile trail east to Delicate Arch itself or you can drive down to the end of the spur road and take a short hike to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint. The viewpoint is about 2/3 of a mile south of the arch itself and offers a wonderful if not somewhat distant view of the amazing stone structure.

Moving even further north into the park you will pass the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint to your east. From this viewpoint you can see an incredible maze of canyons that are packed very closely together. When viewed close to sunset, the long shadows and soft light create the illusion of giant flames leaping up from the desert, burning the La Sal Mountains in the distance. Ranger led programs can take visitors on a three mile strenuous hike into the Furnace. There are no marked trails in this region so do not attempt to navigate the labyrinth of canyons on your own.

The road continues northward for another five miles before ending at the Devils Garden. It is here where you will find the largest concentrations of significant arches in the park as well as a number of park facilities.

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