Arches National Park

Awe-inspiring rock formations and a crazypants hike

September 24, 2019

Filed under: southwest-usa

Arches National Park at Sunrise

We woke up before the sun rose in order to beat the crowds at the Delicate Arch, Utah’s most famous arch. In fact, we got to the park so early that the visitor center and the gate where you usually pay were not open or manned by any rangers yet.

One benefit of being there so early was that we got to drive through much of the park with the even early morning light.

We were determined to get to Delicate Arch while it was still relatively quiet, so Brian developed a new technique for applying his sunscreen.

The Delicate Arch hike was not terribly exciting except for an expansive hill of steep slick rock where you can see everyone tiredly walking up a huge rock face.

The early morning paid off, as we reached the Delicate Arch with just a small crowd. Also, there’s actually a lot of room to spread out and explore. We found a little perch and hung out there for a while watching everyone take their pictures and snacking on some energy bars.

Delicate Arch

Soon the crowds caught up, and the place was overrun by selfie sticks and tour groups. For that reason, it's not the most peaceful place to visit, but it's still amazingly beautiful and awe-inspiring.

We also ventured further on the slick rock to get some shots of the canyon behind Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch Canyon

The famous slick rock of Moab is intimidating to walk on. It can be difficult to get a grip with your shoes and much of it is at a steep incline. In fact, just before we left Delicate Arch, we witnessed a woman drop her iPhone into the canyon below. A heroic hiker retrieved it for her, but that thing was totaled.

We also took a brief detour to see some 500 year old petroglyphs.


Hiking in Devil's Garden

After lunch, we decided to hike through Devil's Garden to see a few more arches.

We were unsure if we were going to make the full 7-mile loop hike since we had already done the Delicate Arch hike, but when we got to the Landscape Arch we were super curious about the Primitive Trail, which was rated as difficult. But “let’s check it out for a little bit” quickly became “there’s no going back now.” Our hike along the Primitive Trail included a few wrong turns and some challenging rock scaling -- it was awesome. It was also significantly less crowded and we developed a sense of camaraderie with our fellow primitive hikers.

Amazing alien rock formations

The Devil’s Garden hike was full of fascinating and varied arch formations. There was also a portion of the hike that was walking on the spine of tall rock formations -- definitely not something for people with a fear of heights. As much as we enjoyed the hike we did end up counseling an older guy to turn around as he was already tired from the easy entry hike. Descending some of those tall rocks requires some strong and controlled legs which was pretty difficult after hiking so many miles.

Devil’s Garden

Devil’s Garden

To celebrate our last night in the Utah parks, we grilled steak. After walking nearly 20,000 steps and climbing the equivalent of 75 flights, the endorphins were rocking and the steak tasted amazing.

Horse Thief Campground Grilling

Horse Thief Campground