Miles driven: 49.1
Miles hiked: 5.0
Today was a short day, as I’m saving the last 7.2 miles of designated trail for tomorrow. I headed into the park around 7:30 this morning after camping out in town last night. I focused on the Northern portion of the park, minus the Devils Garden area, which is what I’ll do tomorrow.
After eating breakfast, I made my way up towards the Delicate Arch. I arrived at Wolfe Ranch around 8am and there were only a few other cars in the parking lot. From Wolfe Ranch, there is a three mile, round-trip, trail that goes all the way up to the Delicate Arch. It’s basically climbing straight up for 1.5 miles. There are a couple of overlook areas that don’t require as much hiking, but I wanted a good view and apparently so did everyone else. Within 10 minutes of parking, the lot began to fill up and I knew I had to start booking it so I could beat the crowd up there. Unfortunately, the sky wasn’t as gorgeous of a blue as it was yesterday, so the pictures didn’t come out quite as impressive as I was hoping. Still, looking at the arch from up close was 1,000 times better than looking at it from the overlooks down below, like I did in 2009.
After leaving the Delicate Arch, I headed to the Salt Valley Overlook.
There’s a viewpoint for Fiery Furnace shortly after Salt Valley, but there were signs stating parking was only for permit holders. Fiery Furnace is a maze of rock towers roughly two miles long. You can take a guided ranger tour for $10 or get a permit to go on your own for $4. Apparently the Primitive Trail around Devils Garden has similar rock formations, and since it’s free, I decided to pass on Fiery Furnace.
I did, however, stop a few times along the road between there and the Sand Dune Arch. There’s multiple spots to pull off and get photos of the beautiful rocks along the way. I’m not sure what any of them are called, if they’re even named.
Upon arriving at the Sand Dune Arch, I decided to change into my hiking shoes. I wore my lightweight running shoes doing the Delicate Arch hike and my feet were a little sore from walking down the 1.5 miles with tight shoes on. Not my best idea. You’d think I would have learned after smashing my feet up on the Appalachian Trail, but you’d think wrong. Anywho, the Sand Dune Arch is really beautiful and it’s like walking on a beach between canyon walls. I can’t believe we passed all this stuff up the last time I was here. It’s only a 0.3 mile hike according to the brochure, but the sign at the site says it’s 0.2 miles, one-way. Not sure which one is telling the truth. WHY MUST YOU LIE TO ME?!
From the Sand Dune Arch location, you can also hike out to the Broken Arch… which has a misleading name. It’s a complete arch, but it has a crack in it at the very top and that’s why it has its name. It’s a 1.2 mile round-trip hike out to the Broken Arch.
On the Broken Arch Trail, I came across a really awesome looking tree and I just felt it worth pointing out separately. I just find it very intriguing. Look at the colors and how the wood is formed. Neat-o!
My last stop for the day was a little up the road at the Skyline Arch. The hike is only 0.4 miles round-trip, but this is probably the only arch so far that actually looks better from far away. The closer you get, the less you can see. The arch is fairly high up, hence the name. According to the sign at the trail entrance, it used to be half the size it is today, but in 1940 a huge boulder fell out of the arch, doubling the size of the opening.
Tomorrow should be my last day in Arches, but I’m not going very far from here. Canyonlands National Park is right around the corner.