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It was roadtrip time for me again last Friday.  This time my destination was Arches National Park just outside of Moab, Utah.  I had been holding a camping reservation for nearly 6 months so I was anxious to get there and get my tent setup.  After driving across the Montezuma Valley west from Mesa Verde you quickly see a dramatic change in the landscape.  You suddenly descend into an area with numerous sandstone formations jutting up towards the sky.  It takes only 45 minutes or so to encounter your first "Arch" known as Wilson Arch ...

It is an amazing story how an Arch is formed.  Needless to say it takes thousands of years and a unique situation where heavy rock overlays a huge Salt formation (from ancient seas).  The overlying rock develops cracks due to shifts in the underlying Salt.  These cracks lead to the formation of "fins" which have the potential of creating an Arch.  When softer Rock at the bottom of the fin erodes away an Arch is born.  There are literally thousands of Arches in this part of Utah (east central) with the greatest concentration in Arches National Park (NP).  I arrived at the park right on schedule shortly before Noon.

 After a brief stop at the Visitors Center to pick up my Fiery Furnace tour ticket (Yeah!!!) I proceeded into this magical park.  One of the first formations I picked out was "The Three Gossips" .... interesting name :-)

After a short drive I got to the Devil's Garden campground and got busy setting up my tent. BTW I LOVE my REI 6 person tent (yeah, yeah ... a little big for one guy!)

Right across from my campsite was the Park Amphitheatre and another spectacular Arch called "Skyline" Arch.

 The view from my campsite was just incredible ... I can't really describe it.  Here's just one picture to give you a hint of what I looked at from the door of my tent.

On Saturday I did one of the coolest things you can do in Arches NP ... I went on the Fiery Furnace Ranger guided tour!

Here's our intrepid tour guide.....Ranger Anna :-)

Anna did a spectacular job helping us keep from getting totally lost .... this place is an incredible maze of deadend canyons.  It is easy to see how you could become disoriented and lost (quickly).  Here are a few shots from the 3 hour hike!


Now this was a surprise ... it's called "Surprise Arch".  One of the superintendents discovered this Arch while helping to develop the Fiery Furnace trail.

So we came to the end of the tour.  What a facinating 3 hours!  Another highlight of a fabulous summer in the 4 corners region.

On my way out of Arches NP I snapped an image of "Balanced Rock" ..... just amazing stuff.

I plan to return to Arches NP in October and do many of the hikes that I did not have time to get to on this trip.   This Park is a hikers paradise!   Till next time ..... Ranger Rich



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