Arches National Park

On our cross-country road trip moving Brady out to California, we arrived in Moab in the afternoon. With sundown approaching, we didn't hike any of the trails in this park - though there are many if you find yourself here with more time to spare. We came into the National Park from the south and the Visitor's Center is the first thing you'll pass after turning onto Arches Scenic Drive. We skipped the Visitor's center and went to the first of the Arches - we could see so many of the rock formations as we approached the National Park through Moab and we wanted to make sure we saw as much as we could before the sun set for the night.

As with many of the National Parks we've visited so far, Arches is set up with a main road that offers countless pull-off spots and parking lots to take in the views or start your hike. Driving north along Arches Scenic Drive, we saw so many different formations of the red rocks - with a surprising amount of variety between each stop. The view points on this drive are too many to list them all - but we saw: Park Avenue, La Sal Mountains, The Organ, Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers, Sheep Rock, The Tower of Babel, the Petrified Dunes, and the Great Wall. All of these are famous rock formations that seem to just spring straight out of the ground, often with nothing but desert around them. At this point, we had so many great photos and we had yet to even see an Arch yet!


Back on the main road, continuing north, we quickly approached a small pull-off loop for Panorama Point. We pulled up to the viewing area and found that this spot actually gave a sweeping view of the desert landscape - no arches or rock formations at this one. The vastness of the desert was had us in awe - and the various shades of red were a constant reminder we were a far away from any landscape we'd experience back home.

It was then back to the main road again, for a short drive to Delicate Arch Road. When we arrived at the parking lot, we noticed that we were doing well on time and we actually got out to do the short hike on this one. It was a moderately steep climb, but the pathways were well marked and there were people of all ages picking their way to the top. When we finally reached the peak, the elevation allowed us a great view of this popular arch and we were able to take some photos with the little bit of sunset left.

At this point in our journey, the sun was quickly setting. Back on the main road, we passed Salt Valley Overlook and the Fiery Furnace on our way towards our last destination - the Devil's Garden. We parked the car, knowing this was our last stop, and ran along the short trail to get a last look before the sun was fully down. We caught photos of the Devil's Garden and the Skyline Arch in the sunset. The already red landscape was accentuated by a pinkish sunset and neither of us would have questioned it if someone told us we were standing on Mars.

With the sun fully down, it gets chilly in the desert - so we hurried back to the car and retraced our steps back to the south, down Arches Scenic Drive and out of the park.

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