Staying overnight in Moab meant we had two relatively relaxing days exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Park. Arches National Park (Map) is only a 20 minute drive away, and one day is plenty of time to do all the hikes there. Everything in the park is encompassed by the name. The park comprises of an easy drive through multiple rock formations in the shape of an arch. It seems to defy the laws of gravity when you’re standing right underneath these massive arches of rock – how can these massive geologic structures manage curve so sharply yet gracefully, into the shape of a gymnast doing a backbend, and leaving the perfect window of space below?
It’s even more fascinating as driving through the winding roads of the park is like taking a road trip into the Earth’s geological timeline. There are baby arches where you spy a feint arch-like structure about to appear with the shadowy rock of the would-be window still on the verge of eroding away. Then there are the aged arches, where the middle has completely eroded away, as if a bridge has collapsed with only its two pillars remaining.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK IN ONE DAY ITINERARY
Courthouse Towers: First stop is the drive through Park Avenue, Three Gossips and Sheep Rock. There’s a trail but it was a cold, wintry sunrise so the viewpoint gave us a great vantage point of the towering apartment-like rows of rocks that you would expect in a busy metropolis. Three Gossips reminds me of a snowy version of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains in Australia.
The Windows Section: After passing through Balanced Rock (another gravity-defying formation), we stop at our first hike through the North and South Windows. It’s a loop that takes you through right underneath two massive, thick arches side by side, that give window views to the never-ending sea of snow and reddened rock. Heading up, Double Arch is unexpectedly a conjoined-twin type arch, with two beautiful curves coming out from the same rock face.
Devil’s Garden: You’re rewarded with more unique arches on the drive up to Devil’s Garden, including, Fiery Furnace (a personal favourite), Sand Dune Arch, and Broken Arch – that all make quick and easy stopping points for some photo ops.
Devil’s Garden Trailhead has multiple options depending on how long you want to hike, with the longest one being the 11km primitive trail that involves some rock-scrabbling fun! Given the snow covered footpaths and a lack of proper gear, we opt for the medium hike, passing through Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch (an arch decorated with pine trees all around its base!) and Landscape Arch, which are all equally as impressive. Landscape Arch is so thin it definitely looks like its about to completely erode away (in a thousand years maybe…) so the path to directly below it is closed due to several rock falls in the past few decades.
Delicate Arch: DEFINITELY the best hike of Arches, and one of the biggest WOW factors I’ve gotten to this date, especially since I hadn’t spoiled the view by googling photos before. It’s definitely an intense hike, and quite scary in Winter because the last 15 – 20 minutes are on snow/ice which was really slippery without ice-grips on our shoes – we were probably crawling along at 1cm/s (sorry to hikers behind us!) and there is a pretty steep drop off. That being said, it’s definitely a family-friendly and doable hike without snow, especially because there’s a huge, steep exposed rock face to climb up which is a lot of fun (and good cardio!)
I didn’t even realise we hit the arch until we turned the corner of the cliff. And there it was. Delicately perched on the horizon at the very edge of a cliff face was the arch. Words can’t describe my awe here…
Spend some time up here, walk around the edge, climb to the arch if you dare for the ultimate Instagram shot! And Delicate Arch was the PERFECT awe-inspiring hike to conclude our one super fun-filled day stumbling around the snow-covered Arches wonderland!