arches national park

Today lets talk about Arches National Park, in Utah, on the Colorado Plateau and relatively close to the Colorado state border.

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Though the sandstone cliffs and formations of the park can seem harsh and barren, plenty of life still finds a way to thrive.

Arches National Park is beautiful in a stark and formidable sort of way.  It is a land filled with sweeping vistas built of solid red rock. It seems you can look in any direction and find stunning natural stone formations in the shapes of arches, pinnacles, standing columns, precariously balanced boulders and more.

The park is best known for Delicate Arch, a 65 foot tall naturally formed sandstone arch. But there is plenty more to see and explore in Arches National Park.

The park road entrance is just outside of Moab, the tiny outdoorsy little town I talked about last week. Just past the entrance the road climbs steeply with a number of sharp switchbacks marking the rapid rise in elevation. Though the park is filled with hiking trails and perfect spots for rock climbing of all sorts, if you only have a couple hours to spend then just taking a long and winding drive through the park. The views available along the main road are sure to satisfy.

The first sights on your way in are a group of incredibly tall, long narrow columns called the Courthouse Towers.  Just past these monoliths find the Petrified Dunes. These dunes formed 200 million years ago.  Back then they were part of a massive sandy desert area. Over time other stones and sand settled on top of the dunes, compressing and hardening them. Only after the other stones were again carried away by erosion were the original sand dunes, now petrified, revealed once again. With stones and stone formations I think we often have this sense of timeless beauty, but even stones are constantly changing with the passage of time.

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The Courthouse Towers

Past the Petrified Dunes are many stunning formations including a grouping of rock pinnacles, and a collection of smaller stone arches in The Window Section of the park. These arches include Pothole Arch, Double Arch, North Window and South Window. Don’t overlook the balanced rock, a massive boulder perched on top the point of an unbelievably narrow pinnacle.

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The Balanced Rock

Continue on and take in the sweeping panoramas and stunning sandstone cliffs that make up the bulk of the park.  If you only have time for one hike, I recommend taking one of the three trails to check out Delicate Arch.  The first trail is a short ten-minute hike up to the Lower Delicate Arch View Point.  This hike is good for all athletic abilities and is wheelchair accessible. The second option is a hike to the Upper Delicate Arch View Point. This is an easy to moderate hike of about 30-minutes (.5 miles). From the this view point the arch is plainly visible across a canyon. The third option is to hike directly out to Delicate Arch.  This is a difficult three-hour (3 mile) hike over open slick rock in full sun. Bring plenty of water and be prepared for a narrow rock ledge crossing before reaching Delicate Arch.

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Delicate Arch as seen from the Upper Level Delicate Arch View Point

I opted for hike number two, out of respect for my short time frame and hopes to be back on the highway before too late in the day. You can see from my picture of Delicate Arch what kind of view you can expect from the Upper Delicate Arch View Point.  It is a nice view, but if I’m ever near Arches National Park again I definitely want to do the more difficult Delicate Arch hike.  I also hope to spend more time exploring the Devil’s Garden.  This area of the park is at the most northern tip of the park and includes a campground and an extensive collection of trails and dozens of arches.

But unfortunately the sun was working its way lower in the sky and I knew it was time to hit the road again.  So with a last appreciative sigh at the beautiful vistas before me, I climbed back into my Jeep and made the slow trek back out of Arches National Park.

Next up on my journey? A few days and nights visiting friends along the way towards my final destination, the fine state of Virginia and the beautiful Lake Anna.  Check in next week for some exciting East-Coast adventures!

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306545_10100339996775636_297841040_nHave you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as a writer and entrepreneur.  To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.

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moab, utah

Welcome back to the multi-part series on my Road Trip from California to Virginia taken this spring.  I guess I should have made that clearer in the beginning. I struck out from Santa Barbara, California, and spent a good two weeks working my way east. I made stops in lovely places like Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Pittsburgh, Lake Anna, Washington D.C. and more. The past few weeks and the next several weeks will be filled with instillations of those exciting stops along the way.

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It is hard to pay attention to the road with views like this.

Anyway, welcome back and onward we go!

When we last talked travel, I was as far as the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Utah.  Leaving the sand dunes, I again struck out east.  Moab, Utah, was my next destination.

Moab is a tiny, sporty, artsy little town in eastern Utah on top of the Colorado Plateau.  Its most famous features include Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park. Though small, it is visited by many tourists on the hunt for outdoor adventures each year. Off road Jeep treks, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, white water rafting, 4x4s, base jumping, slack lining, and more are offered to intrepid adventurers near Moab.  Want to know more? Visit Moab’s Tourism Website.

The best time to visit is late-spring to early-summer, or in the fall. Though there is something to do there any time of year, high summer and deep winter can experience extreme temperatures. My mid-to-late-April arrival was perfect. The weather couldn’t have been better; warm and sunny during the day, and cool at night.

When I arrived the sun was just setting.  I knew that by the time I got to the condo I would be too tired to venture back out.  So I stopped at a little grocery store for supplies. Some pasta and veggies for dinner, and a six-pack of a local brew, HooDoo, a Kolsch style ale by Unita Brewing Company.

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A great beer and a good view make for a happy Aeri!

Once at the condo I dropped my bags cracked open a beer to relax and enjoy the last of the settling twilight from the back porch.  The views were astounding. Snow capped mountains on one side and red orange sandstone plateaus on the other.

The next morning, feeling refreshed, I ventured towards downtown Moab.  It is a cute little town.  There are plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, artisan boutiques and outdoor equipment general stores.

I spent time admiring the local artists’ work, and bought a few small prints by Serena Supplee. She was my favorite of the local scenery artists displaying work throughout the town.  Her use of color and bold shapes made for work that felt almost surrealist if the subject matter wasn’t sitting on the horizon for easy comparison.

Feeling hungry, I made my way to The Moab Brewery, a restaurant and brewery at the top of the hill, just outside the edge of downtown.  They had a bunch of great beers on tap. It made it hard to choose just what to try! Since it was lunch time I settled on the Dead Horse Amber, a mild beer, good cold and at 4% a reasonable choice for a midday meal.  It complimented my gigantic  burger and fresh cut thick fries well. The Moab Brewery was good. They had good food, good atmosphere, and great beers.

And the best part is that since it’s a brewery too, you can buy cans and bottles to take home with you. I picked out the Over the Top Hefeweizen, Black Raven Oatmeal Stout, and Squeaky Bike Nut Brown Ale to try later.

I just wish I had had more time to spend in Moab.  I would have explored the more adventurous options around the town. A jeep safari deep into the beautiful canyons and ridges around the Colorado Plateau, and definitely some more hikes.

As it was the day passed quicker than I would have thought. The next day I had plans to visit Arches National Park for the day and get on the road by the late afternoon.

Check back next week for stories from Arches National Park.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
306545_10100339996775636_297841040_nHave you ever had the urge to just drop what you were doing, pack a bag, and set out on an adventure? Seven years and over two dozen countries later, Aeri Rose is proof that excitement, independence, and discovery await those who are bold enough to say “yes” to life’s craziest choices. When not exploring the world with her little grey backpack, Aeri Rose an be found living a nomadic lifestyle traveling the United States as a writer and entrepreneur.  To follow Aeri on all her adventures, check her out online at travelingwithaeri.com; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aerirose.