The Tower Arch – Arches NP

Moab, UT

Earlier this week we met up with Steve and Joan, fellow full-timers with a blog we follow.  They picked us up at our site and we headed into town to enjoy a nice meal, complete with good food and great conversation.

Steve and Joan are on  their way to a workcamping assignment in central Colorado for the summer.  But apparently they are reluctant to drive a forty foot motorhome pulling a trailer over a ten thousand foot mountain pass full of new snow.  So they’ve extended their stay in Moab a few days, allowing us to make plans for a hike/jeep adventure with them on Thursday.

One of the highly recommended hikes in Arches NP is through an area known as Fiery Furnace.   The trail winds its way through an area of rock fins that make the trail difficult to follow, so we signed up for a ranger-led hike on Wednesday afternoon.  At least we thought it was on Wednesday.  Apparently someone moved April 11th from Wednesday to Thursday without telling us.  When we arrive at the park visitor’s center on Wednesday to check-in for our hike, we found that we were scheduled for Thursday afternoon and the hike for Wednesday was all filled up.   We called Steve and Joan with our scheduling dilemma.  They responded like true retired full-timers with “give us fifteen minutes and we’ll meet you there.”  Sure enough, fifteen minutes later we were off to do the hike we had  intended to do on Thursday!

Our destination for the day was the Tower Arch, located in the northern section of Arches.  The arch is accessed by driving almost to the end of the main, paved road, then taking a nine mile ride on a nicely maintained dirt road.  The La Sal Mountains, with a new covering of snow, provided some great views along the way.

After parking the Jeeps, we began our hike with a short climb up the rocks to a mesa.

Once up on the mesa, the trail leveled out as it meandered through the rocks.

The rock formations along the trail were very interesting.  Below is a formation called the Marching Men.

After mile and a half, we scampered through a narrow pass into an open area with a great view of the Tower Arch.  Steve and Joan quickly climbed into the arch to give a perspective as to it’s size.

The view from inside the arch

Steve and John scrambled up the rocks to explore the tower.

John takes a picture of Pam . . .

. . . while Pam takes one of him

After a bit of scrambling, they made their way to the base of the tower, discovering that it is really two towers standing side by side.

While Steve and John were up exploring the towers, Joan and Pam hiked over to another arch nearby.

Joan explores a short slot

This arch turned out to be two arches.  In our quest to find all two thousand arches in the national park, this means we are much nearer to our goal!

The narrow band of sunlight in the center of the picture below verifies that there are two arches.

Hiking back to the trailhead, the mountains in the distance provided some great scenery.

For the return drive we decided to challenge these Jeeps, so we turned onto a dirt road with signs warning drivers of the need for four-wheel drive and high clearance.  After a short distance, we came to a very rocky hill that required some planning of the best path to take and a guide on foot to help stay on that path.

With Steve’s guidance and a bit of maneuvering, John was able to get the Wrangler up through the rocks.

But Steve and Joan’s Grand Cherokee refused to make the climb, even with Steve’s expert driving and John’s precision guidance.

So Steve backed down the hill, while John went up and turned the Wrangler around for the return trip.  With the help of gravity and Steve’s expert guidance, the return through the rocks was completed with ease.

Once back on flat road, Pam’s heart rate slowly returned to a more normal pace and she was able to un-clench her jaw!  We continued to enjoy beautiful views of the mountains as we drove out of the park.

As we returned to Moab, somehow both vehicles ended up in the parking lot of a nice Mexican restaurant.  So we ended our adventure with a nice meal and some more great conversation.  Tomorrow we are scheduled for our ranger-led hike (at least we think our Thursday hike will be on Thursday) and on Friday Steve and Joan head east into the Rockies, so we will not see them again for a while.  But we really enjoyed our visits with them and may see them again as we travel through Colorado next month.

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13 Responses to The Tower Arch – Arches NP

  1. Sue says:

    Wonderful pictures once again guys. I love the snowy mountains contrasting the red rock formations. Are you trying to prove something driving that poor jeep on those nasty, rocky roads? Or are you feeling guilty that you’re doing more rock scrambling than it is….

  2. In all fairness to Jeep, the Grand Cherokee would have made it up the hill if not for the combination of steepness and sand on the rocks……that and I was a little reluctant to try and muscle my way over the rocks. And don’t forget to add a shovel and gloves to your off-road kit. We’re looking forward to our next outing with you guys! See you soon.

  3. LuAnn says:

    Utah has to be one of the most special states for sightseeing and hiking. Good luck on your quest to see all the arches!

    • placestheygo says:

      You are correct, LuAnn! Utah is amazing!

      We learned yesterday from Ranger Kate that there are only about 50 large arches. The rest are slight, three foot openings that are hard to see. We have found 22 so far!

  4. Janna says:

    Absolutely gorgeous photos!

  5. Lisa says:

    What a fun day and great sights and friends too! Utah is so gorgeous, can’t wait to get there once again myself. Perhaps next spring…

  6. cathy says:

    Once again, great photos! Please tell Steve & Joan hello. I follow their blog too. We’ve never met face to face, but we’ve emailed back and forth. Maybe all of our paths will cross one day!

  7. Gay and Joe Taylor says:

    Another great day with views, arches, and wonderful people to share them with!

    Did you say 2,000 arches? And how many have you seen? That’s quite a challenge…

    • placestheygo says:

      Actually, we learned from Ranger Kate yesterday that there are only about 50 large arches. The rest are these very narrow slight three foot openings that are hard to find. So far we have found 22 of the 50!!

      So glad we met up with Joan and Steve. We had a wonderful three days together.

  8. Erin says:

    Nope … not trying what you did with the jeeps today … we leave the off-road driving to others! Yeah, call us scaredy cats ;-)))

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