Today’s weather forecast contained a pretty strong chance of rain, so we decided just to explore Arches on some short hikes. That way if it did rain we would be close to the Jeep. Some area schools must still be on break this week as the park is a bit crowded with families, making some of the more popular spots difficult to visit. So we’ve decided to visit those spots next week, hoping they will be less crowded.
For our first short adventure today we parked in a small pull-off area next to the road to hike in and visit Skyline Arch.
Pictures on an information display showed the arch before and after a large rock fell out of it in 1940. The picture below shows the pre-1940 arch below and the post-1940 arch above.
You can’t get up in the arch from our approach path, so we hiked around the rocks to see what the view was from the other side.
As soon as we got near the arch on the other side, the nimble hiker took off for the rocks and scrambled up into it. The hiker was so quick that the photographer couldn’t keep up and was still a distance away while taking the photo below.
But soon he caught up to her and enjoyed a rest inside the arch.
A nearby group of rocks provided a great place for lunch.
The sky darkened as we ate, so as soon as we finished lunch we hiked back to the Jeep. The sky became a little less threatening as we began to drive, so we headed into an area of the park known as The Windows. Along the way we had a nice view of one of the most popular sights in the park, the Balanced Rock. Since it was a bit windy, we parked along the road for a short time to see if the rock would fall over, to no avail. We’ll keep an eye on it as we explore the park, just in case it falls during one of our visits.
We soon reached our destination, the Windows Section, where there are a number of impressive large arches. But the parking area was very full and there were many large groups of people on the paths, so we decided to return here next week.
We drove back up the road and found a place where we could pull over and leave the Jeep, then set out over the rocks to visit the Cove of Caves. There is no developed trail to the Cove and it is visible from the road, so very few people hike in for a closer look.
We spotted the small arch on the left side of the above picture and decided to hike to it for a closer look.
From a distance there appeared to be a canyon behind that arch that we wanted to explore. So we hiked up to the base of the Cove of Caves and made our way toward the small arch.
Some of the “coves” along the path were huge!
As we went around the back of the arch, we had to scramble up some fairly large boulders.
After scrambling up the rocks, we found that there is no canyon behind that arch, but we did have a nice view of it from another angle. We thought we could climb right into the arch, but as we hiked nearer we were stopped by a deep, wide gap in front of it which prevented us from going further.
There were some interesting rock formations in the area behind the arch. One reminded us of the rear of the Titanic as it disappeared into the Atlantic.
On the return hike our group divided in two, just like Lewis and Clarke on their return from the Pacific, with Pam exploring the lower wash area and John scrambling on the slickrock at the base of the arch.
As we made our way back, we spotted another example of the 98% Rule (98% of Americans are stupid). The picture below shows what’s known as the Double Arch. We hiked to its base hoping to climb up into it, but found the rocks too steep to climb. It is fairly easy to climb into it from the other side using a path from that crowded parking area we had just avoided.
As we passed by it returning to the Jeep, we noticed a young boy sliding dangerously down the rocks from the inside of the arch. With the father watching, a second even younger boy tried to get down, but stopped and yelled that it was too steep. But the boy at the bottom encouraged him so he slid down, barely avoiding tumbling over on his head.
The older boy yelled up that the younger one may not be able to get back up. But the father said not to worry, if he could get down, he could get back up as it would be easier. Apparently the father hasn’t done much hiking on rocks! When the boys couldn’t get back up the father said that they should just hike around the arch back to the path, but they shouldn’t do anything dangerous. Guess it was a little late for that advice!
We escaped the rain all day and tomorrow’s forecast is for sunshine. So it looks like a longer hike is in our future. More on that later . . .