A continuation of our Spring Break trip earlier this year…
After a day spent in the northern Canyonlands area, we decided to return to Arches National Park to see more of the park. Our $10 park pass from a couple days ago was still good, and would be for another 5 days. Ten dollars for seven days in a National Park for a family of three. I can’t think of a better deal out there.
We spent our previous day in the park doing most of the shorter hikes, but this day we’d focus on the Devils Garden area. Located all the way at the end of the park road, the Devils Garden features a series of giant rock fins that have broken out of the earth due to erosion. Throughout the fins are some of the park’s most spectacular arches.
This trail starts out really easy, designed with all hikers (including wheelchairs) in mind. Right from the first step, the scenery is amazing. With your eyes focused on the big rocks above you, you don’t notice all the people on the trail as much.
There are side trails to various arches along the way, but if you stay on the main trail, you come to Landscape Arch, the longest known arch in the world. This arch currently has a span of about 290 feet! In recent years, access to the arch has been closed by the park because of huge slabs that fell off one side. It really is a granddaddy of arches, and could fall at any time. It was great to be able to see it before it’s gone. Although more than likely, it’ll be there long after I’m gone.
Not too far past the Landscape Arch, the trail becomes more advanced, and of course, the crowds start to thin out too. The trail leaves the dirt and climbs up onto the sandstone fins at times for a thrilling walk up the rock.
We passed a turnoff to Navajo and Partition Arches, wanting to complete the Primitive Loop. Double O Arch was the next planned destination. We got to a section where the trail climbed up onto a fin, and followed the narrow rock as far as I could see. It was the middle of the afternoon now, and the wind was gusty. On one side of the rock was a drop about the height of the trees, and on the other side was an even bigger drop. I looked at the width of the trail, and told myself it’d be no problem, I’d get through it. But as I got out a little ways, the wind gusts just kept knocking me slightly off balance. I couldn’t take it anymore. I squatted, pivoted, then went back to where Kristy and Charlie were waiting for me. Once again, my fear of heights got the best of me. To make it worse, another family came by as we were climbing down and walked right across it without hesitation.
But rather than just go straight back the way we came, we decided to go check out the two arches we missed, Navajo and Partition. At first I was a little disappointed I made us turn around, but then these two sections became the best part of the hike. Everything seemed to work out just fine.
Along the way to Navajo Arch, there were a lot of fun pockets in the rock to explore and climb. The trail also lead us under a big rock overhang.
Navajo Arch was one of the more different arches we had seen yet, as it was more of a tunnel than a freestanding arch. The tunnel led us into a courtyard where a few small trees grew, and a little slot canyon climbed up to a great observation point above. Nature is an unmatched architect.
Next we hiked over to Partition Arch for yet another unique arch viewing. These two arches are actually side-by-side holes in the base of a fin with amazing views of the desert below out the windows. It’s definitely a place to sit and enjoy, and that’s just what we did.
After a nice break at Partition Arch, we made our way back to the trailhead, enjoying all the previous formations from a different angle. Once again we marveled at the Landscape Arch before returning to the trailhead, and ultimately back to Moab to look for some dinner and brews.