After having a lot of fun in Denver it was time to once again visit Arches National Park. I was not able to do everything last year so there were a few things that I felt I still wanted to see and experience.
A few things required advance reservations. This year I was prepared and made reservations back in March. I really wanted to camp (Devil’s Garden Campground) in the park so I made reservations for the Devil’s Garden campground. I also secured a ticket for a tour of the Fiery Furnace. You have to have a tour guide to go on this hike as you can get lost or injured if traveling by yourself and inexperienced. The last thing I wanted to do was see Landscape Arch.
I arrived about 4pm. I had a lot of extra time so I visited the visitor’s center and talked with the ranger. It turned out he was doing the presentation in the campground later that night. He suggested I take the small (about a mile) hike around the Windows before heading to the campground.
The Windows are a collection of huge arches and you can walk around the rock structure and the back half (on a primitive trail) was shaded and nice.
My next stop was the campground. I set up my one person tent, cooked up some food and enjoyed the evening. Upon heading down the road to the bathroom I saw another trail. I decided to take it and found one of my favorite places in the park. I sat in silence and enjoyed the sunset while looking at wildlife (deer and rabbits) and cool rock formations.
I had to head back to catch the ranger presentation in the park. This one was about Cryptobiotic soil or some people call it desert glue. It takes decades to form and it not only protects the sand from erosion but helps hold in moisture. One step off the trail can destroy this protective layer on the top of the ground and lead to rapid erosion.
After the presentation I went back to my campsite and re-organized my car, looked at the park newspaper and had a beer. I had intended on shooting photos of the night sky here but the moon was too bright. Eventually I went to sleep. surprisingly I woke up to rain drops! It rarely rains here so I didn’t bother to zip up my rain fly. It was just a few hours of light rain.
The next morning I woke up at 7am, broke camp and headed to see Landscape Arch which is on a trail near the campground. It is as wide as a football field and for the life of me, can’t figure out how it is still standing.
My next stop was the Fiery Furnace tour. This was the highlight of my trip to Arches this year and it didn’t disappoint. Usually the tour has about 25 people but fortunately for us (and not them) a group of 14 missed the tour. So we had quite the personal tour from the ranger. We traversed the 3 mile maze of rocks, arches and drop offs. It was quite cool to learn about the history of the area. I would highly recommend this tour if you are visiting the park. Just remember to make reservations in February or March.
On my way out I visited Park Avenue and finally filled up my water bottles before heading out-of-town to Zion!