Arches National Park

Arches National Park is all about the arches.  Every trail leads somehow to an arch.  We decided to take the longest day hike offered in the visitor guide.  It was a ‘difficult’ trail called the Primitive trail, a 7.2 mile stroll through the Devil’s Garden, an inviting name, I know.  There was supposed to be ledges, scrambling and exposure.  It sounded like fun.

It was the beginning of June and the mid-July heat had already gripped Moab.  The daytime high was projected for 104°F.  This chubby Minnesota boy is at home in cool weather, but 100+ degree heat is intimidating.  We (I mean me) decided we should start just after sunrise to beat the midday heat.  We entered the park and were greeted by a magnificent sunrise reflecting off the Courthouse Towers.

Courthouse Towers.jpg

It was 6:30 am and we were among the 1st visitors to the park.  The temperature was a comfortable 68 degrees with a relative humidity of 15%.  It was a perfect morning.  We parked at the Devils Garden trail head to take the Primitive trail for a 7.2 mile round trip hike.  The Devils Garden is a massive collapsed salt dome that formed vertical sandstone ‘fins’.  The geology, climate and erosion in the area allowed for the formation of the arches that are abundant in the park.

Devils Garden.jpg
Devils Garden

We followed the Primitive trail a few miles into the Devil’s Garden.  We traveled across rock and sand and  it wasn’t long before we lost the trail.  We knew we were taking the ‘road less traveled’ but we didn’t expect route finding to be difficult.  I didn’t want to be wandering in the desert, thinking about dessert, in the mid-day heat so I scrambled up one of the fins to get better view.

fin Sean

I contemplated our situation and concluded we were still on the trail.  Vickie wasn’t sure of my conclusion so she climbed to a ledge with a more dramatic view.  She is always ‘one upping’ me.


fin Vickie 2Turns out she was higher, but my navigation was correct…….as usual.  We hiked on.  We came across the Private Arch.  Appropriately named because nobody in their right mind hikes this far out into the desert to see one arch when there are dozens right off the road.  We had this view all to ourselves.

Private Arch.jpg
Private Arch

We didn’t see any other hikers until over halfway through the 7.2 mile loop when we intersected the Dark Angel spur trail.  We took the 1/2 mile spur leading to the Dark Angel.

Dark Angel.jpg
Dark Angel

After about 5 miles the heat was starting to intensify as the sun climbed higher into the Utah sky.  We were just over halfway though our hike.   There were many more arches to explore, the Double O Arch, Partition Arch, Landscape Arch, Skyline Arch, and others.  Arches National Park is all about the arches.

Double O Arch
Double O arch
Partitian Arch.jpg
Partition arch
Landscape Arch.jpg
Landscape arch

We even found some arches that were not pointed out in the visitor guide.  I assumed since there were no signs identifying the ’new’ arch, it must by yet undiscovered.   Once the park rangers read this blog they will obviously give me full credit for the discovery and the honor of naming it.  I think I will call it Finnegan Hiatus Adventures Arch, or we could call it Micro Arch for short.

Micro Arch.jpg
Finnegan Hiatus Adventures Arch
Micro Arch-close up
‘Micro Arch’ for short

It was proud to be an exceptional explorer on par with the likes of Robert Falcon Scott or George Mallory and Sandy Irvine…..  wait, maybe it’s not a good thing to be comparing myself to these guys when I am still in the desert called the Devils Garden……..thinking about dessert.

We eventually made our way out of the desert.  It was time to grab a cold one!  We decided to celebrate our trip and the discovery of a new arch with a visit to the the most famous arches of all, the golden arches.  It was time for dessert (not to be confused with desert).

Golden Arches
Golden arches


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