Arches National Park

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The 6 pages in Utah are places we visited around Thanksgiving of 2007. In a few days, we swept through five national parks linked by spectacular scenic byways. We were simply mesmerized by the scenic treasures on the vast Colorado Plateau. The whole trip, mile by mile, are all gorgeous views of canyons, rivers, cliffs, mesa, colorful rocks, fins, arches...

As the name implies, the Arches National Park's main attraction is natural sandstone arches. Some 150 millions years ago, layers of red sandstone were deposited onto a salt bed over the Colorado Plateau. Over millions of years, the underground salt dissolved, causing chunks of surface sandstones collapsed but leaving some vertical pillars of rock standing, which we call fins. In occasions, with the right strength and angle, some slabs of stone remains on top of two fins and form into magnificent arches. Here we have over 2,000 of natural arches, the largest cluster in the world. The Park's established as a National Monument in 1929 and became a national park in 1971.

 

The post child of the park, the Delicate Arches, has become the symbolic landmark of Utah. It can be found in Utah's licence plates. The lone-standing arch was eroded from layers of reddish Entrada sandstone. The theatrical location and the dramatic structure certainly help to brought it into fame.

It takes a 1.5-mile hike up the plateau to the Delicate Arch. All along the hike, there's no sign of the arch at all... until at the last corner, through a small arch window is the stunning view of a natural theater, and standing up right on the stage is the world-famous arch, the most handsome and delicate natural formation on the Colorado Plateau.

And today's show is... "Sunset on the Delicate Arch." Most of the audience arrived at least 1 hours early to pick a good spot for their tripods and cameras. I confess that I was one of those restless audience who never stopped searching for a good spot. The last pic is one of the the photos I took from that angel.

Subtle changes of colors, especially in the last 10 minutes.

The sun just set, the moon rise. Oh my, a full moon... I've never seen it so... enticing.

 

Park Ave trail. A 1-mile long trail through a canyon with lofty stone ridges and columns on both sides. You may have some sense of the grandeur of the canyon if you can make out two tiny dots at the bottom of the last pic, which are two hikers on the trail.

At the end of the Park Ave trail we have the Courthouse Tower viewpoint.

From left to right: the Three Gossips (that's a good one); there used to be two giant arch spanning the Baby Arch and the Sheep Rock (2 pix); the Tower of Babel (last pic).

 

Balanced Rock. That huge stone on top is the size of 3 school buses.

The Window Section, a cluster of giant arches. In the last 2 pix is the North Window and South window Arches.

The North Window (3 pix) and the South Window (2 pix) up close.

The Turret Arch, with a baby arch on the upper left. Looking through it from the southwest side, we can see the South Window. Arch within an arch.

 

The Fiery Furnace. A forest of sandstone fins (3 pix). In the last pic is the Skyline Arch.

The Landscape Arch in Devil's Garden is the longest arch in the park (span 290 ft or 88 m). It looks so long, so thin, so fragile, makes you wonder if the name got mixed up with the Delicate Arch. In fact the Landscape Arch is slowly falling apart. Three sizable pieces of sandstone has been witnessed chipping off the Arch since 1991.

 

Some random scenes. The last one in the 1st row was taken near the visitor's center.

 

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