Tower and Delicate Arches {Arches National Park}

Tower and Delicate Arches {Arches National Park}

We arrived at Arches National Park mid-morning after running an epic race up slick rock and down the side of a mountain. Moab was a complete zoo due to about 12 events happening in town at the same time and one of them being a car show which just clogged up the main drag.

Sometimes you have to contemplate what you’re about to do. The night before the race, I wondered if I was going to die as we explored the course.

Somehow we beat the MASSIVE crowd for breakfast at Moab’s Diner and only had to wait 45 minutes to be seated. After chowing down at the very cute, old style diner and changing out of our wet racing shoes and clothes (yes, we had to run through a waist-deep river), we were off to explore Arches National Park.

Have I mentioned that I hate crowds?

One of my least favourite things to encounter on a hike is a hoard of people clogging up the trails.

I kept swallowing my disappointment as we drove down the parkway and every turnout was full and stopping was impossible  – Arches was one of my most anticipated places of our three-week trip to the Southwest.

  • Illegal-esque parking and short sprints up the 300 meter walkways to enjoy the arches ensued.
Skyline Arch, Arches National Park
Skyline Arch

After being turned back from being able to see the Delicate Arch because the parking lot was full, the decision to go off road was made.

The best decision we made on this trip was to rent a 4×4 SUV.

Tower Arch sits alone 15 miles down a sandy, rough road off the main parkway. Due to our ability to 4×4, we took the road labeled ‘4×4 road only’ and happily escaped the masses.

After bumping down the road for over half an hour, we spilled out into the parking area which only had a few trucks and jeeps and tried to make our legs work again after racing that morning.

  • Its amazing how quickly you can seize up!
Tower Arch Hike, Arches National Pak
We finally lost the masses!

The hike is only 2.5 miles one way and the elevation gain over the course of the hike is only about 100 meters. You go up and down the elevation gain quite a few times, so it is a bit more work than websites suggest but it was still completely do-able, even after wanting to die from running straight up and down slick rock a few hours earlier.

Being able to spend some time alone and enjoy Arches after being swarmed with tourists was a welcome reprieve.

Tower Arch did not disappoint.

The way there and back is nearly as wonderful as Tower Arch.

Tower Arch, Arches National Park
On the way to Tower Arch
Tower Arch, Arches National Park
The arch is so much bigger than you can imagine! This is the view from underneath – look at how small Speedy is!

Back at the car and with only a few hours until the park closed, it was time to keep exploring beautiful things. I still had Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Broken Arch, Devils Garden and Turret Arch on my list, but even if we ran around like complete idiots, there was no way we could see it all with the time we had left.

Hard decisions.

Too many decisions for this tired woman to make, so Speedy decided we should try the Delicate Arch parking lot one more time. After all if you’re going to choose one thing, it might as well be the one thing you wanted to see when you came.

The sun was just starting to find its way towards the western skies and all the tourists were coming in droves off the slick rock.

  • It was like magic, parking spots were appearing left, right and center!

The hike to Delicate Arch starts with some gentle trails and then moves to a climb up a huge incline of slick rock. The trail then narrows into a path off the side of the hill where passing oncoming traffic needs to be done with care.

The woman wearing high heels that I passed at this point was struggling as children ran past her in glee.

Note: This trail requires real shoes.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Trail marker on the way up to see Delicate Arch.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Imagine a hilly mountain meadow and then turn it into slick rock … thus begins the climb.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
When the hoard of children come flying at you around the corner and the trail suddenly narrows, you may just find yourself hugging the wall and praying the wind doesn’t blow the small gaffer off the side of the mountain.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
It was still quite busy … what an amazing place!

Delicate Arch is one of those places in the world where you simply sit and take it all in. If I could hug an arch, I would have hugged Delicate Arch; instead I sat on its foot.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
It was pretty special to get this close to it … it is MASSIVE and behind it? Sheer drop off!

On the way back to the car for the final time and realizing we wouldn’t be coming back to Arches in the morning because there was literally no room in the inn at Moab (seriously, I called 20 different hotels and B&B’s after getting ‘no availability’ on, Expedia, and Hotwire), I felt happy.

Sometimes you remember it’s about depth, not breadth and having a reason, hundreds actually, to come back to a place isn’t a bad thing.


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