Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Third Sunday Drive, Day Two, b: Arches National Park

 Even more than in Canyonlands National Park, Arches gives you vista after vista so that as I drove through the park, I felt like stopping every five feet for another photo op.  As the day was getting later and the sun lower, I missed most of the over 2,300 arches that have been cataloged in the park.  I did more walking here than in Canyonlands, and still missed most of the sights.  I'll definitely be coming back to see more of Arches National Park.

 Upon first entering the Park, you drive up a winding road that takes you past one monolith after another, each more scenic than the last, or so it seems.  There are few places to pull over, and the road itself is not very wide, so you take those stops you can and start aiming your camera in every direction.  At least that's what I did. All told I took 74 photos while in the park, and as I keep saying, I missed most of the park.  Click on any of the photos to see it full screen in a new window.

President Herbert Hoover first set aside Arches as a National Monument on April 12, 1929.  The area was reclassified as a National Park on November 12, 1971.  The Park covers some 76,679 acres or roughly 120 square miles.  Over one million visitors come to the Park each year, and certainly more than a few were in the Park over the Labor Day Weekend.  That said, even at the Windows Area parking lot, where I had to circle the lot and wait for a parking space, I never felt crowded by my fellow visitors. I'm sure part of that has to do with the scale of the formations which make humans truly small.

My first view of Balanced Rock

 Balanced Rock

At Balanced Rock, I parked the car and hiked the trail that circles the formation.  I do not believe it possible to show just how impressive this formation is.  I shot it from every imaginable angle and none of my shots capture the wonder that is Balanced Rock.  

 Turret Arch

My second park and hike was at the Windows Section where I had to circle the parking lot and then wait for someone to leave so that I could park the Saab.  There are many incredible formations at the Windows Section including North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, the Parade of Elephants, Cove Cave and Double Arch.  If you look at the full screen view of Double Arch (below), you'll see the human beings scattered throughout the feature, giving you an example of the size of this formation.

 Double Arch

I parked again at the end of the eastern spur which led to the parking lot for the Delicate Arch viewpoints.  By this time of day, I was really getting tired and the sun was getting low.  I did not make the three mile hike to Delicate Arch, nor did I even take the shorter half-mile hike to the Upper Viewpoint.  From the Lower Viewpoint, I was able to grab this shot of Delicate Arch and the other formations that accompany it near the eastern edge of the Park.
 Delicate Arch and its Companions
I did, however, make use of my camera bag, and walked back to the car to change lenses figuring that I could get a better shot of this iconic arch, featured on Utah license plates, by using my 400 mm lens.  Alas, I had left the tripod at home, and I was way too tired to hold the now much heavier camera steady.  By balancing the camera on a fence post, I was able to get the shot below, admittedly not one of my better efforts.

Delicate Arch (400 mm lens) from the Lower Viewpoint

 Arches National Park is one of the most fascinating places I've visited, and it deserves much more time and effort than I was able to give it on this trip.  I'll be back.  No doubt about it.

No comments: