By: Jill from 1Five1 Garage
June 2, 2022
What is the first thing that pops into you head when you think of Utah? Is it the Great Salt Lake? Salt Lake City, the state's capital? The famous Bonneville Salt Flats where supercars go to test top speeds; or perhaps it’s the famous and numerous national parks the state has, such as Arches National Park, or even Zion National Park? For us, it was everything.
Most people probably have seen the Arches in magazines such as National Geographic. However, photographs, no mater how good they are in the magazines, fail to do the place justice. It’s one of those situations where “You just HAD to be there.” It’s so beautiful in person; it’s almost indescribable.
(Source: 1FIVE1 GARAGE - JILL'S PHOTOGRAPHY) Not sure the name of this arch, I dubbed it Little Arch.
The colorations of the Moab area is a warm shade of red. When the sun gets in different positions as the earth rotates, the rays of the sun hit differently, causing different colors, shades, hues, and tones to appear. You may end up taking a million photographs of one area simply because the light variants bring out different elements of the landscape. This is similar to Uluru in Australia's Outback (see below). The picture was taken in one day, same position, but different lighting due to the earth's rotation.
(Source: Google Image Search)
Our seven-day vacation was not long enough. We knew this going into this vacation. I’m sure those of you reading this can relate, where you're having such a wonderful time on vacation you don’t ever want it to end? Yeah, it was like that. We wanted to squeeze in as much stuff as possible. Our plans for this particular day entailed going to the Arches National Park. We were determined to see as many as we could.
It took approximately fifteen or so minutes, depending on traffic, to get to the entrance to the park from where we were lodging. I do want to mention if you ARE MILITARY (retired or active), you will get in for free. Just thought I would put that out there. Please make sure you have your military ID with you when you go, otherwise you will have to pay the fee per person. The ranger will give you a newspaper and a folding paper map of the park. If you want souvenirs, the Visitor Center is pretty amazing too! So make sure to check them out before leaving. :) They have a great educational hands on exhibit, which is awesome for the kids!
The first thing we see is an observation point for the Moab Fault. (see below) The type of fault is called an extensional fault. It runs approximately 28 miles (45 km) from northwest to southeast and is located in the Paradox Basin. The fault line is the diagonal line running parallel to the roadway (slightly above the upper left corner of the sign) Don’t think Moab still doesn’t experience earthquakes, because they still do.
(Source: Google Image Search)
In fact, in November of 2020, Moab had a lovely shake of 3.8 at 4:19am MST. This was the earth waking everyone up with a shaking style alarm clock lol. Fortunately, the quake was so minor no damages or injuries were reported. (KUTV.COM)
After taking in the massive fault line, we piled back in our rental Jeep, and proceeded to drive a little further up the road and saw a parking area. Not knowing the area, we figured we would pull over, park, and see if the arches were in this area named Park Avenue (I have not unfolded the map at this time for I was too busy gawking at the scenery. Can you blame me?). The name was fitting because it was incredibly stunning. (TIP: Bring yourself a very sturdy walking stick with a good rubber bottom for this area – TRUST us on this one!) Shawn and I decided to hike the area, which in some spots were quite steep and precarious, and we only wished we had walking sticks with us. Lesson learned for when we come again.
We hiked so far into Park Avenue; we found not only the next parking area, but the Tower of Babel, The Three Gossips, and the Courthouse rock formations. I will say, time seems to stop in Moab, because one is too busy taking in the beautiful surroundings you lose yourself. C.G. Jung wrote in the Red Book: "To find their soul, the ancients went into the desert." It truly is a place to really find yourself.
It was quite fascinating to see the swirl marks on the rocks left by water rushing over them time and time again after major storms, coupled with winds. It can get quite gusty here. The areas where the grounds are rippled and smooth are called washes, and it's one place in the park you do NOT want to be in when a storm suddenly comes about. Flash flooding is a very real threat in the desert and can come upon quite quickly, and can be deadly in some instances.
(Source: 1FIVE1 GARAGE - JILL'S PHOTOGRAPHY)
We furthered our journey by traveling up the road a ways and found Balanced Rock (see below). This is a precariously perched, rather large stone atop a small base. One day, it will take a nice little tumble, just like the Wall Arch did in 2008. Hopefully, this won't be anytime soon.
(Source: Google Image Search)
From Balanced Rock, we ventured further up the road to the North and South Window Arches, and the Turret Arch. The North Window is also known as the Eye of God when the moon or the sun passes through the center of the archway. The shape of the North Window is of an eye (see below).
(Source: 1FIVE1 GARAGE - JILL'S PHOTOGRAPHY) North Window/Eye of God
(Source: Google Image Search / Epoch Times) Eye of God
(Source: 1FIVE1 GARAGE - JILL'S PHOTOGRAPHY) South Window
(Source: 1FIVE1 GARAGE - JILL'S PHOTOGRAPHY) Turret Window
The view from any of these archways is spectacular. You can see for miles and miles of desert. If you aren't afraid of heights, definitely recommend walking up and taking a peek. You will see plateaus, petrified dunes, various rock structures, and beautiful plants sprawled out as far as the eye can see. Truly I tell you, the desert is vibrant with life and the colors are rich and warm in any season of the year.
We made our way back to the main road, but not without stopping at yet another overlook point. The Garden of Eden. While it may not be the Biblical Garden of Eden, it was gorgeous nonetheless. Definitely worth the look (see below). The white peaks off in the distance is the La Sal Mountains.
(Source: Jim Goldstein - Google Image Search - we do not own this photo)
Another overlook point we stopped at was Panorama Point. It has a wider view of the desert and its most definitely worth the look, and makes for a great photo opportunity for anyone. If you have the panoramic feature on your camera and you need practice taking good photos with it, this is THE PLACE to do it! Practice your heart out! The views are breathtaking.
We turned off the fork onto the main road where the road forked again. We couldn't decide if we wanted to go all the way to the Devil's Garden, or go see the Delicate Arch. Well...we took a right and decided to head towards Wolfe Ranch and Petroglyphs. Wolfe's Ranch consisted of log fencing, and two log cabins (one being very run-down). Mr. Wolfe had a lot of cattle here and was a rancher, hence the fencing. The cabins and fencing are white from sun bleaching over the course of several decades (see below). The smaller cabin further back is the original cabin Wolfe built. When his daughter, Flora and her family paid him and her brother a visit, needless to say she was less than impressed by the condition in which they were living in. Flora demanded her father and brother build a better and bigger cabin, which you see depicted down below.
(Source: Google Image Search - nps.gov)
Mr. Wolfe and family were not the only people who have called Moab, UT their home. This area of the state was home to many Native American tribes, some including: Ute, Paiute, Zuni, Hopi, and many, many others. Mr. Wolfe eventually sold the ranch, as it exchanged hands several times over the years, and finally ended up in the hands of the National Parks Service.
Further up the path and over a bridge, you will find on the face of a rock, some really cool petroglyphs. Petroglyphs are easily confused with pictoglyphs. Petroglyphs are rock carvings, whereas pictoglyphs are rock paintings. Rock carvings tend to withstand the elements better than rock paintings. Most rock paintings are in caverns and caves, which is the reason why they last as long as they do. They are sheltered from the elements.
The petroglyphs were very impressive, and as an artist myself, I view things a lot differently than most people. From an artist point of view, they were VERY good pieces of art for what they had available to them at the time as well as their limited skill. The fact they lasted this long is nothing but a miracle. Wind erosion is very prevalent in the desert. From a non-artist point of view, they just look absolutely cool! LOL.
We drove further up the same road the Wolfe Ranch is on to the dead end. The dead end consisted of a parking area for the Delicate Arch trails. There are three trails, one to get to the Delicate Arch which is a very long hike, the Upper View trail which is a nice moderate length trail, and the Lower View trail (which what we did because we were worn out and it was the shortest of the three). See below for a Google image search of Delicate Arch:
(Source: Google Image Search)
Would we recommend the Arches National Park? Heck Yeah!! It'll wow you with more than five star views, that's for sure. We want you to be considerate and adhere to the rules of the park. While these areas may look indestructible and hardy places, they are in fact extremely fragile ecosystems. Just make sure you pick up after yourselves and pets so others can enjoy the park in its best condition as possible. If you visit, please remember to bring a lot of water (even in cold months you will easily become dehydrated), snacks, sunscreen, walking sticks, wear some good grippy comfortable shoes, and whatever your pet needs, and necessary medications, because you will lose not only yourself, but also the track of time in this magical place.
This concludes the Arches National Park blog. I hope you were both entertained and educated, as it is my goal to do both with these blogs. Our next blog (part 3 of 6) will cover our adventure at the Bronco Off-Roadeo event, which was our sole purpose for this trip. My apologies the blogs are way behind. I will be playing some serious catch-up hopefully soon.