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Arches National Park

Arches National Park, about five miles (8km) north of Moab, Utah, is a fantastic place For lovers of topographic exploration. Ironically, most visitors spend all their time on the two paved park roads and on the few designated trails, missing out on the other world of scenic wonder beyond these limited areas. This is due to in part to the erroneous notion that hiking off-trail is forbidden. Numerous signs in the popular areas of the park say "Stay on established trails" or "This is not a trail" or "Don't bust the crust!"

The notion is erroneous because the official park brochure acknowledges that backcountry camping is permitted. Guess what?---to get to the backcountry, one must leave the trails. No doubt the Park Service is happy with the aforementioned erroneous notion, for it minimizes damage to the environment.

Most of the soil in the park is characterized by cryptobiotic crust, a living organism that helps stabilize the sand and retain moisture, setting the stage for plant growth and the resultant animal life. Hikers who leave the trails have the challenge of avoiding this crust; this causes hiking routes to be anything but straight lines. Walking off-trail becomes an exercise in stepping on bedrock, rocks, and fallen branches, and following washes (which often do not allow the formation of the crust) and game trails created by deer and other critters.

Delicate Arch
:: Delicate Arch ::
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
:: Delicate Arch Viewpoint ::
Devils Garden
:: Devils Garden ::
Gloomy Scenes in Arches National Park
:: Gloomy Scenes in Arches National Park ::
Ring Arch  [photos uploaded at Moab]
:: Ring Arch [photos uploaded at Moab] ::
Salt Wash Precipice Via Direct Route
:: Salt Wash Precipice Via "Direct Route" ::
Salt Wash Precipice Via Jug Rock
:: Salt Wash Precipice Via Jug Rock ::
Scramble to the Three Gossips
:: Scramble to the Three Gossips  ::
Arches NP: Miscellaneous
:: Arches NP: Miscellaneous ::