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Utah Parks – Chasing the Stoke

Utah Parks

Posted General Ramblings Travel

I’ve had enough of the sufferfest. Mark probably could have stayed in Indian Creek for another month, but I’m ready for something new. I know it’s a learning experience, and I knew it was going to be hard going into it, but there wasn’t enough fun to balance out the struggle and frustration. We’ll probably go back in the fall and give it another shot, but for now we’re looking for a change of pace. Maybe try to find some bouldering or sport climbing, something with face holds instead of cracks.

Before we left the Moab area, though, we had to do a little more exploring in Canyonlands and Arches. A visit to Arches has been on my bucket list for a long time.

When we walked through the visitor’s center at Canyonlands there was a sign posted on the bulletin board, warning visitors that a mountain lion had been seen in the Elephant Canyon area. So naturally, that’s the first place Mark wanted to go. We hiked up this crazy rugged Jeep trail (so, of course, Mark wants a Jeep now) and saw some incredible rock formations, but no mountain lion. I’m sure if he was still in the area he was watching us, though.


It’s crazy how touristy Arches is. When we got to the Delicate Arch viewpoint there were about 30 people standing underneath and around it. Kind of ruins the moment a little bit. On the other hand, there are so many people who will go their whole lives without experiencing even a fraction of what our national parks have to offer. So I really can’t fault anyone for wanting to see it. Everyone should. Can’t they visit some other day, though?

If you’re willing to hike a bit you can usually leave behind some of the crowds. We went to the Devil’s Garden area and hiked out the long path past the Landscape Arch and out to the Double O Arch. Even though it didn’t have a spectacular view or anything, I think the Navajo Arch was my favorite. It’s a small arch off the main trail a bit that leads to a narrow canyon between two ridges. It’s shaded and quiet, and when you walk underneath it it almost feels like you’re walking into a cave, except for the fact that there’s no roof above you. And right in the middle of the cavern there are these beautiful, bright green juniper trees. Nobody else hiked up there while we were there, so it felt like our own secret place.

It’s pretty incredible how quickly the landscape can change out here. At least as far as rock formations go. You can see where new caverns and arches are starting to form. I sat underneath the Double Arches and thought that it’s pretty likely that these could be gone in my lifetime, warn and crumbled away from the water and wind. And it’s mind boggling how some of these huge boulders are staying, perched high up on these steep cliffs. They look like a strong gust of wind could send them toppling down. The rocks of Utah have somehow managed to defy the laws of physics.