Thursday, October 11, 2012

American Southwest Trip: Day 7-1 Arches National Park, UT

     Taking sunrise photos became an incentive for me to wake up early during our trip. It was too early at 6 am for the sunrise. However, the breakfast had begun to be served. At this point I was tired of the continental breakfast. I realized I was lucky and appreciated Taiwan style breakfast which offered buffet (salad, eggs, and sausages etc.) and descent coffee.  I just grabbed a few pastries and coffee and headed to our journey of the day. 
A Mormon Church and a Mormon Temple were behind our hotel room in the early morning. The farmland looked like it had just been plowed recently. 

According to the weather forecast, we might encounter thunder storms for the day. The clouds seemed to heavily covering the sky. During our past few days od our trip, we were lucky and blessed to have enjoyable weather. At this moment we only could do was to enjoy our life and make the best of it, no mater what the weather was going to be for the day.       
Our travel distant was about 67 miles (an hour drive) from the hotel where we stayed to Arches National Park which was our third national park to visit. This was the first arch we saw along Highway 191. It is called the Wilson Arch.   
My husband met this Haley rider from Canada. Two men who are enthusiastic in motorcycles shared their travel experiences and had a good time talking to each other while I was taking pictures. No double in my mind, my husband told him an Australian couple whom we met in Taiwan about their travel story around the world. You can check their story by searching "the most traveled Harley in the world" on line.
Just before we arrived at the Arches National Park, we turned onto UT State # 279 which is also called Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway to see petroglyphs. The gigantic cliffs and the Colorado River were along the road. The massive cliffs were amazing. While I am writing this article, I found there are more things to do on this scenic highway. It would take at least 2 hours to stop and see all the viewpoints on this highway. 
It was really difficult to look for the petroglyph from this endless cliffs. Fortunately, the road signs showed visitors where to stop to see the ancient arts. 
After we passed by Moab city, we could understand why the hotel prices was higher than other city. It offered many recreational activities in the area. The supply was less than demand in the season. The gasoline price was higher than other cities that we passed by. The price was almost US$ 4 per gallon.  
By this time we had already visited 2 national parks and we arrived maybe 20 minutes after 8 am. Cars were already line up for entering the national park. It was more popular than the other two national parks. 
The view of the park entrance:
We didn't stop by the visitor center which was not far away from the entrance booth. Our goal was to drive to the end and start from there. 

We drove up the hill and stopped for this breathtaking view.
Looking south along Highway 191 and the turn off road to the entrance. 
To the north along Highway 191: The weather was getting worse. I hoped my first visit to the Arches National Park wouldn't end up with lightning and thunder storms.  

After we entered this park, the view was fantastic with heavy clouds covering the sky which made the weather more comfortable for traveling. There were a lot of beautiful scenery for taking pictures along the road. According to its official website description, "the park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks." This Balanced Rock was just one of its hundreds of unique rock formations. 
My trip planner had not planed to visit this site because we didn't have enough time. I insisted we visit this arch because it was a major promotional point for this park. If I didn't take any pictures of this arch, it would mean I never been to this national park. My insist was not negotiable. The trail to the Delicate Arch is about 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip (2-3 hours walk) and is categorized as a strenuous trail with a 480 feet (146 meter) elevation change in the park brochure.   
Our goal was to reach the rocky top in this picture. "Would it be our final destination?" We asked ourself and wished it would be because of the elevation change  and our breathing hard during the hike. Anyway, we had no clue and just kept walking. 
We caught up a group of elementary school students were also on their way to the arch. It made me feel that my insist was right. 
Unfortunately, the arch was not located on the top of the huge stone and the heavy clouds were approaching from our back. Would we be able to reach the arch before the rainfall? We didn't prepare for stormy weather. I only had a grocery bag for protecting my camera. 
This was the 200 yards (180m) long rock ledge before we arrived at the arch. 
When I arrived at the arch, my husband already had his spot for taking his rest and enjoying the fabulous scenery. I couldn't find a word to describe its beauty. My first thought was " wow, amazing!" Taking the words from those elementary students when they arrived was " wow, that was awesome!"   
People like to stand next to the arch to take their pictures that appears at any famous places in the world. The problem is can the entire arch fit into their picture frames or can a subject show very clear or reasonable size in the picture? I had to wait for a good timing to take a few photos without people in my pictures with my telephoto and wide angle. According to the park information, the best time to visit this arch is in the afternoon before sunset. 
Because of time constrants and the weather situation, we did't stay at the arch too long. It was a pity. Good bye Delicate Arch, I will be back!
The heavy rain drops were cold. Some people still walked toward the arch without raincoats or any protection. I was very impressive by these hikers who weren't discouraged by the rain.   
Fortunately, the rain was on and off. We didn't get too wet on this hike. Actually, I felt the weather was quite nice after good sunburn on my both arms especial on my wrists. Both wrists were often exposed to the sun  because of holding the camera for taking photos. 
Wolfe's Ranch was built in 1906 under the homestead act. It was at the beginning of the Delicate Arch trail. 
Driving in the park, its geological formation was amazing which stimulated my imagination. I named the unique formation in my way. I named the rock on the middle and 2/3 above of the picture as a pointed middle finger for fun.
This was taken from Fiery Furnace. After we arrived here, we learned it is a fee request guide tour in this park.  "

     Fiery Furnace (Fee Area) The fiery furnace is a mazelike labyrinth of narrow
     sandstone canyons. To enter the Fiery Furnace, visitors must accompany a 
     ranger-guided hike (see page 2) or obtain a hiking permit at the visitor center. 
     There is no trail, so visitors are encouraged to accompany a ranger — both for 
     their own safety and to reduce impacts on the area.
     Fiery Furnace Walks are offered daily, spring through fall. These three hour
     hikes wind through terrain that requires scrambling up and through narrow
     cracks and along narrow ledges above drop-offs. Children under five are not 
     permitted. Reservations may be made at and must be 
     made more than four days before the date of the hike. Walks are limited to 25
     people and typically fill weeks in advance. Reservation holders must check in
     at the visitor center at least one hour before their hike. From Arches Visitor 
Was I lucky to have heavy clouds and sometimes misty weather covering partial the landscape in this national park? I liked this weather which made the view more dramatic and more poetic. 
Since we didn't have enough time to visit all the senic spots in this national park, we had to utilize our time to make the visit more significant. We chose to visit arches which were short and easy to access. This was the Sand Dune Arch. "Start: sand Dune arch parking area Length: 0.3 mile (0.5 km) round trip Time: 15 to 30 minutes Trail leads through deep sand to a secluded arch among sandstone fins."
Every scenic site always gave me positive and surprised impressions. I would never had thought the sand dune were hiding between sandstone fins with vivid colors. It was a little bit hard to walk in the sand.  
This Sand Tune Arch looked like two kissing dolphin to me. 
This was the Broken Arch which shared the same trail with the Sand Dune Arch. It was more far away than Sand Dune Arch from the parking lot. This was my cheek to cheek birds version arch. 
     Start: sand Dune arch parking area or Devils Garden campground across from
     campsite #40 Length: 1.3 miles (2.1 km) round trip; 2 miles (3.2 km) 
     including the loop Time: 30 to 60 minutes from the sand Dune arch parking 
     area, the trail crosses a large meadow to the arch and continues to the 
     campground. Trail leads through fins with sand dunes and slickrock

My version of two arches: sandstone arch and wooden arch. 
We moved to our next destination which was the window section. I was not allowed to walk into the trails which would consume our limited time. So I had to behave and control myself for not really being attracted by the views. I knew it was hard to do so.  
Double Arch: bird's style French kissing or feeding baby bird
I was leashed. If I walked too far, I would get the electric shot in my mind. 
Well, next time I would be back.  
Beautiful Rock Formation
Garden of Eden : It put on a big bright smile on my face. 
Time to leave the park
We stop at this Courthouse Towers viewpoint for a few moments to take photos. My two photos ended up with more than 5 pictures which sometimes drove my husband crazy. What could I say? 
This was our final stop at the Visitor Center for purchasing books and magnets. 

the thoughtfulness of the park  

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