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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> Moab: Christmas 2020 >> Day 1: Arches National Park tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Day 1: Arches National Park

We spent our first day in Arches NP. I was in the park early for sunrise around the Courthouse Towers area. This is a nice spot for sunrise, but it can be difficult to explore and compose a photo because you have to be careful not to step on the cryptobiotic soil (ďDonít bust the crust!Ē). I ended up just sticking close to the road and the La Sal Mountains overlook.

After sunrise I returned to the hotel for breakfast and we all got ready for a day in Arches. We drove to the end of the road to hike in Devilís Garden. We did an out and back hike to Double O Arch and added on the short side trip to Partition and Navajo Aches (just under five miles total). This hike has a lot of bang for the buck - multiple arches to see and a cool section to walk across a fin. I think the best view of Double O Arch is to go through the O and walk up the other side. You can also add on the short spur trail to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches, although we didnít do that on this trip.

Our second stop was the Windows Section where the main three features are Double Arch, Turret Arch, and The Windows (North and South Window). There is a short path to Double Arch and you are allowed to climb up on the rocks underneath it. Double Arch is the tallest arch in the park (112 feet) and was formed by vertical water erosion. Fun fact: Double Arch can be seen in the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Across the parking lot from Double Arch is Turret Arch and the Windows. There is a path you can walk to visit both areas. For both Turret Arch and the North Window it is easy to climb through the arch. A great view is to scramble up the rocks on the backside of North Window and you can view Turret Arch through the opening. This is best in the earlier part of the day when the light is right and especially spectacular at sunrise (I would return a few days later for this exact reason).

Our last stop of the day was Delicate Arch. We saved this one until later in the day as this is when the light is best, although itís always a risk for parking (we did get a spot since we arrived just as someone was leaving - it was a full lot). The hike to Delicate Arch is three miles round trip with 480 feet elevation gain over a combination of trail and slickrock. There are a few ledges near the end that have some drop offs, although the trail is wide enough and comfortable. Before you get to Delicate Arch there is an opening in the rock wall called Twisted Donut Arch (definitely the best named arch!) and you can scramble up here for a view of Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch is the most iconic arch in the park and accordingly itís always very busy here (unless you hike there for sunrise). We took a few pics and sat to take in the scenery then decided to hike back down. Between the crowds and the lack of clouds needed for a colorful sunset, we decided not to stick around for sunset. It was a good, full day in Arches!
La Sal Mountains Sunrise
La Sal Mountains Sunrise
The Organ at sunrise
The Organ at sunrise
First light on Courthouse Towers
First light on Courthouse Towers
Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch
Hiking in Devil's Garden
Hiking in Devil's Garden
Partition Arch
Partition Arch
Partition Arch
Partition Arch
Navajo Arch
Navajo Arch
Walking the fins
Walking the fins
Double O Arch
Double O Arch
Hikers through Double O Arch
Hikers through Double O Arch
Double O Arch
Double O Arch
Returning through Devil's Garden
Returning through Devil's Garden
Double Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch
Double Arch
Steve at Double Arch
Steve at Double Arch
Turret Arch
Turret Arch
Steve in Turret Arch
Steve in Turret Arch
The Windows
The Windows
Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
Twisted Donut Arch
Twisted Donut Arch