Arches NP is located just a short distance north of Moab, UT. It’s fairly small, so it’s quite manageable in a full day. We hiked all but a couple short trails but didn’t travel any of the 4×4 dirt roads.
Our first stop was at a small roadside pullout which provided an excellent view of the Moab fault. We were challenged by minerals44’s GCZD93 The Moab Fault, the first of 3 minerals44’s earthcaches that strained our brains today. The Moab fault is very easy for laypeople to see; since we’ve returned to Calgary we’ve discovered that another Calgary area cacher (and geologist) was there just a few days before we visited. And some of Mr. GeoKs’ business associates in the oil & gas business have also visited Moab fault.
Although it was midweek, the park was quite busy and we had to park a fair distance from the Devils Garden Trailhead. As we walked the front section of the trail we encountered two tour groups making their way back to the parking area after visiting the Landscape Arch and the recently collapsed Wall Arch. A beautiful photo of the Landscape Arch was hanging in our cabin at Red Cliffs Lodge, but try as we might we weren’t able to replicate the shot.
We continued on well past Landscape Arch, splitting up to ensure we had photos of the Navajo and Partition Arches. Youngest GeoKid absolutely loved climbing up and traversing the long stretches of slick rock and had no trouble keeping up with Dad. Oldest GeoKid was more cautious and kept "nervous Nellie" Mom company along the trail.
The day was heating up by the time we reached Double O Arch, but since there was a virtual cache established about six or seven hundred meters down the trail we continued on to visit Dark Angel and Little Angel. This was also where we stopped to enjoy our picnic lunch and take stock of our water supply (which looked fine). Retracing our steps to the Double O Arch we decided to take the "Primative Trail" back, over the slick rock and through some washes. Youngest GeoKid really enjoyed this section of the hike, at least until his heels started to feel hot. Alas, we had no moleskin in our packs, so we had to resort to large bandaids; fortunately they seemed to ease the discomfort. The rest of us enjoyed the slight respite from the heat that we enjoyed in the shade down in the washes.
Our next stop was the parking area for the Delicate Arch viewpoints; we bypassed the hike up to the arch as it was already mid-afternoon. So while we didn’t get up close to this most famous landmark in the park, we did have a good vantage point to take photographs.
Driving times from the Devils Garden Trailhead to the other points of interest were a little longer than we’d expected, mostly on account of "Mr. Indiana" , the most compliant driver on earth!! The late afternoon sun threw pretty long shadows at our last two stops and our GeoKids were pretty much out of energy. So while they stayed in the car (with the windows part way down) listening to recent episodes of Podcacher, Mr. and Mrs. GeoK visited the Windows Section of the park and studied Balanced Rock. The sun angle made for difficult conditions for photography and Mr. GeoK commiserated with a tourist from Holland over the challenge of getting a decent picture.
We arrived back at Red Cliffs Lodge at 5:58, two minutes before our reserved time in the dining room. We cleaned up a little in the washrooms and then enjoyed a pretty good meal: plain noodles for the boys, vegetarian lasagne for Mrs. GeoK and BBQ pork ribs for Mr. GeoK. The fresh rolls were delicious! Once again, the full moon came up over the red cliffs and Mr. GeoK and Oldest GeoKid took some great photos (see today’s date in our Project 366 photo album).
All in all a great day – unique landscape, lots of learning and a good hike to top it all off!