After a week in the desert we are finally adapting. After all, it will be our home for about 3 weeks. We saw all there was to see in Arches in just a few days. It’s fairly easy to cover. The biggest lesson we took away from this adventure is bringing a lot of water!!
Lets run through a quick Arches/Moab checklist of fun:
1) Hit the major arches. Landscape, Delicate, Double….etc. Check our Flickr and previous blogs.
2) Go mountain biking. Slickrock is unlike any surface you’ve ever ridden on.
3) Take the Fiery Furnace tour. Sign up at the visitor center a few days ahead of time, $10 per adult.
4) Go swimming. Its too hot for anything else in the middle of the day, either find a pool or talk to some locals.
5) Hunt for some petroglyphs. The visitor’s center at Arches can give you a pamphlet with maps and directions to all the neighboring sites
So you saw the must see arches of Arches National Park, but there’s so much more! Not only in the park but the surrounding area as well! Ancient rock art carvings known as petroglyphs can be found all around the area surrounding Moab, UT. Another must see must do in regards to Arches is the Fiery Furnace tour. The Fiery Furnace is a maze of fins and canyons that is very hard to navigate so the ranger-led hike is highly recommended (that’s what we did).
We had heard about the ancient rock art in the area and made it a point to try and find some. After stopping in the visitor center of Arches we snagged a brochure listing all the Petroglyph sites in the area. So one morning, after having explored Arches frontwards and back, we set out to find as many sites as possible before our Fiery Furnace hike at 4pm. We found a bunch without doing much driving at all! Check it out!
First site we found at Moonflower Campsite off of Kane Creek Dr. Another site just up the road. A boulder covered on all sides with petroglyphs. This is a well known “birthing” scene Here is some rock art of ancient Native Americans hunting a bear
After our hunt for petroglyphs, we had a tour of the Fiery Furnace scheduled. We booked it on Monday and the hike was Friday. So plan ahead! We were planning to take a ton of pictures and hand out a ton of granola bars. We did just that. We met with the ranger who would be leading our tour, Ranger Joel. He preferred his “superhero” name of Geology Joel. This guy was quite the character, really hamming it up for the kids. He literally enacted the Fiery Furnace being formed! The hike took around 3 hours but was very mellow, with some tight squeezes. It was really informative actually, especially since our guide had a degree in geology. Pictures barely do this place justice so definitely plan on taking this tour if you’re ever in arches. It cost us $10 dollars each and was well worth it. If you’ve read the previous blog you saw us posing as the Y-M-C-A with some little girls. The whole family enjoyed some Nature Valley bars too! Check out some of this awesome landscape!
Here’s Eric Entering the Fiery Furnace
Jack sneaking through a crack. The “fun” way around
The name of this park says it all. The best part is most of the famed arches of Arches National Park require just very short hikes to reach. The first famous arches to reach are right after the Balanced Rock (seen in previous blog). Taking a right turn after the rock brings you to Double Arch and the Windows. Both of which are accessible by under a mile of hiking. Check out some photos we snagged our first day there.
Double Arch looking epic!
Jack and the North and South Windows
The next day we ventured deeper into the park up to the Devil’s Garden. Devil’s Garden is home to one of the most amazing arches around; Landscape Arch. Landscape Arch spans 290 feet. In the recent past (the 90’s) huge chunks of this arch have fallen from the arches thinnest section. These slabs of fallen rock ranged from 30 to 70 feet! Since then the park has closed the trail leading underneath the Landscape Arch. Landscape arch is located about 1.5 miles from the entrance to Devil’s Garden.
Last, but certainly not least, we made it to the most famous arch in Arches; Delicate Arch. Pictures of Delicate Arch are found everywhere from postcards to the Utah license plate. A 3 mile hike up hill brings you to the astonishing Delicate Arch. The best time to view it is around sunset, so plan to start the hike around 6:45 or 7pm. The trail is usually quite crowded this time of night so be patient when waiting to take photos. There is actually a sign at the trail head that reads “Don’t be an arch hog!”. We arrived a little late but got a couple good shots of the arch.
As always we were making friends from the get go out at Arches National Park. Most of which we would forget to get a picture of. Its awesome how frequently we get to chat with people and explain our summer job and get their input. Most of the time when we offer them a free Nature Valley bar they’ve already got some in their pack! We like to hear that.
On Friday of last week we had signed up for a ranger led tour through whats known as the Fiery Furnace. The fiery furnace is a must see walk through the canyons and fins of Arches. We’ll post more about that later. Any who, a family who also was taking the tour had their kids doing a photo scavenger hunt. One of the tasks of their scavenger hunt was to pose as the Y M C A dance with a stranger; we were those strangers.
We decided they should return the favor and we snapped off this shot with their parent’s permission.
The next evening we had one final mission: the famous Delicate Arch at sunset. The hike to the Delicate Arch is roughly 6 miles round trip. It is a very well known spot for sunset and gets pretty busy around that time. There is actually a sign that says “don’t be an arch hog”, referring to people hogging the arch for photo time. We started our hike around 7:30 pm, and barely made it for sunset. It would be best to start your hike around 6:45 or 7.
*Spoiler Alert* We got to arch and realized now was the time to film the epic high-five for Arches. As we were doing so a couple became very intrigued. So we got to talking and ended up taking their picture with the arch. The Miller’s are a couple from Ohio out exploring some National Parks this summer. They helped us get a few more shots of the arch and were a lot of fun to talk to. We walked with them all the way back to the car chatting for over an hour! Mrs. Miller kept stressing us to “…call Mom!”
In addition to the random friendlies we met along the way, we also had another pleasant surprise. A good friend of ours, Sam, and his girlfriend, Kristin, who went to Montana State University with us, had recently moved to Salt Lake City. Sam had heard we were going to be down here in Moab and decided to make the trek and come camp with us for a couple of nights. We showed them around Moab a little and sent them on a hike to some arches. It was great to see them.
Here are Sam and Kristin making breakfast. Meanwhile Aspen (the dog) begs
Arches and Canyonlands are both right outside of a town called Moab. If you’ve never heard of Moab you probably don’t mountain bike much, this town is a mountain biking mecca. We knew we’d be spending some time in Moab so we decided we better get some bikes. Of course the town of Moab is crawling with bike shops and rental companies, but we didn’t want to visit just the average shop. We came across Uranium bike shop right as we came in to town, it stood out to us because its store front had a large graffiti mural that said Uranium. Very cool.
The owner was this awesome guy named Marshall. He set us up with a couple bikes and a bike rack for my car, he also sold us a trail guide and gave us a lot of insight. As soon as we met Marshall we knew an interview was in order. Marshall was stoked so we told him when we brought the bikes back we’d also bring our camera.
Being the novices that we are we didn’t get to the trail head until around 10:30am the next morning. Summer riding in Moab is deadly with 100+ degree temperatures and no shade in most places. Most people suggest either very early morning or late afternoon/evening riding. So here we are, starting a 15 mile round trip ride at the Klondike Bluffs trail up some slickrock and into the desert.
Tip: Bring more water than you think for any activity such as this in the Moab area during summer.
The ride uphill was pretty brutal, but also fun and technical. We passed some ancient dinosaur footprints that lay in the slickrock and got some pretty cool views too. Finally at the top, we were footsteps away from one of the borders to Arches national park. We saw an old abandoned mine up there as well. It was hot! We had brought 2 quarts of water each and were trying to ration it for the final stretch of rolling dirt road.
Here's one of those dinosaur footprints. You have to look closely!
The ride down was wicked! It probably took half the time too. If you’ve never biked on slickrock before get to Moab, Utah and do it! Tons of fun, but the rough rock had our arms and hands working! If it weren’t for the full suspension bikes we had rented we would’ve been some sore puppies. We got back to the trail head and still had the 2.5 mile homestretch. Besides being beat and well shaking from the rough rock descent, we had about a half quart of water between the two of us. At this point it was around noon or 12:30, the sun is directly overhead, and it was roughly 105 degrees outside.
Long story short, we barely made it. Lesson learned. We got back to Moab and had a nice chat with our friend Marshall. Check it out!
After a few hour drive from our beloved Bryce Canyon we arrived at Arches National Park. We had also arrived in the desert. It was in the high 90’s from the get go. Water around here is a hot commodity. We started to drive through the park and search for some arches. This place is full of amazing views! We’ve got a ton to share but thought we’d go ahead and post a little preview blog.