So Nathan and I think we have come up with an ingenious way to combat the queues outside some of America’s big parks. Ok, so currently there are usually 2/3 booths which everyone drives up to in order to pay the fee to the national park. We have decided there should be three booths. One for card payments, one for cash payments, one for passes and if you aren’t organised enough to have your payment method or pass ready at the booth, then you can’t enter. 😂 It will save a lot of time queuing we think!
All in all we were probably in the queue getting in to Arches National Park for about thirty five minutes. It is another park where you drive around stopping at viewpoints, but this one you need to get out and do the trails to really be able to admire the arch formations!
The first place we stopped was Park Avenue. It is lined with fins, monoliths and balancing rocks! As with most places we encounter, you can see for miles.The next place we stopped at was the Double Arch. You come off the main drive to reach this point. Parking, as you can imagine with it taking so long to get into the park, was a nightmare. There was a ranger in amongst the probably twenty spaces, telling people to keep moving and then you end up going back out and parking on the road anyway! RVs were the problem here. They took up about three spaces each!!Anyway, we eventually parked and began walking back to the parking lot where we followed the trail to the Double Arch. It was a pretty huge formation with rocks inside it that people were clambering over to get that special shot. The more time you spend in these places, the more you come to learn. You learn about people and their ignorance towards others. The trails we’ve encountered aren’t massively wide and you walk the same way there and back. That means you have to allow for those people walking in the opposite direction to you, right? Wrong! To a lot of people, it clearly means walk four people wide. Then you get parents holding their kids hands swinging them, as others are pushed into the vegetation just to pass, or the couple who won’t let go of each other’s hands, just to let the people walking single file behind, overtake. To top it off you get the person who stops slap bang in the middle of the trail to snap away, not once, not twice, but several times, creating a parting of the tides of the people passing.Honestly, some people are frustrating! Still, the view of the double arch was pretty cool, even if it was covered in children 😂! We walked back to the parking lot, crossed the middle section then headed to the north and south windows and turret arch. First stop was North window. You could see so far out into the distance from this arch. Here, you encounter another type of person. The tutter. The person who is taking a photo of another person, who takes about ten minutes to perfect the angle, and instead of snapping when there’s less people around, they do it just as you come into focus resulting in a loud tut. A short walk round the corner and we arrived at south window. As you then retreated further back towards turret arch, you finally got to see them both together.You could see as far as the Rocky Mountains from right where we were! This huge red sandstone park and in the distance snow capped mountains. Magical!
Here was where we decided to embark upon some more rock climbing. Not on the big formations, as that’s prohibited, but a couple of rocks just in front of them. Getting up…easy…not a problem at all. Manoeuvring round to the other side…easy…not a problem. Getting down. Not so easy. For some reason instead of shuffling my feet along side by side, as Nathan kept telling me to do, I continually crossed them like I was doing some sort of odd, really bad dance. This is where I learnt how not agile I am, trying to manoeuvre round these rocks. I mean, when we arrived at them it was just us. By the time my brain had told my feet the correct instructions, there were hordes of people. It was funny. I am definitely not a ballerina, more like a clumsy elephant. In the end I crawled down on my butt again (there’s most padding there so less risk of hurting it on a jutting rock).
I felt sorry for those having to witness it 😂! The views were good from up top though! Can’t say the same for those below me!We walked back to the car and somehow we had managed to walk three miles. The road continued round and we stopped at The Garden of Eden before getting back on the main road.We turned off right at the next turning towards Delicate Arch, parked in the viewpoint car park and began to walk. And walk, and walk, and walk. We decided to go to the upper viewpoint, which seemed to go on forever! (A mile!!) The trail was long and arduous, all uphill and rocky. Another learning…always take water no matter how short the trail (in these desert-like areas it’s hot and humid with zero shade) and don’t wear Skechers 😂! You can see delicate arch in the distance, the small one on the left as you look at the picture.We eventually made it back down to the car where I made a new friend!This little lizard was scurrying around my the door to the car! Next stop along the route was Sand Dune Arch. The roadway ended here because they’re doing road maintenance, but we parked up and walked to the arch. It was through little crooks and crevices in sand. It was a different walk that led to the arch! There was finally some respite from the sun, ruined by the wind throwing sand at us 😂!The formations were amazing throughout the park. There are something like 2000 arches…we saw about 6, the rest are all along the other trails and Devils Garden which is shut. The whole park sits on a salt bed and is thousands of feet thick in places! Across the course of millions of years floods and wind covered the salt bed, which then became unstable so buckled under the weight, thus giving way to massive domes. More instability resulted in vertical cracks forming and arches developing. Wind and water continued to hammer at the formations, washing away loose remnants of rock, forming fins. The harder sections of the fins remained as more erosion allowed chunks of rock to fall out the middle, thus creating the beautiful arches we see across the park today.
It was a great place to visit and actually wander along some of the trails! The road was about 20 miles back to the beginning. There was still a little queue to get in but nothing like this morning. We had planned on visiting Dinosaur National Monument this afternoon but that plan quickly went out the window. We had spent about five hours at Arches! That time just disappeared. Another thing we have learnt…if we want to do two parks in a day we need to ride a lot earlier. We were up at 8 today but didn’t get to the park till about 1045 after we got fuel. By the time we left the park it was nearing 330pm. Despite the fact Dinosaur National Monument is open 24 hours, we decided to get dinner and then drive to a motel close so we can get up early tomorrow to see it in the daytime.
Dinner meant driving back to Grand Junction for Chili’s again as there wouldn’t be anything on our journey North. Getting in proved to be troublesome full of dead ends and u-turns but eventually we parked, sat and ate. The best part of the meal was when Nathan received an email to confirm our tickets for James Corden on the late late show on 22nd June in LA!!! Hopefully we can make it there in time! Might need a slight itinerary for the next 9 days to ensure we do!! How very exciting!!
Once we paid we popped to Best Buy next door, another mission to get in as we kept ending up in the wrong car park and unable to get back! A replacement selfie stick and a micro SD card later, we were back on the road. It forever seemed like we were back and forth between Utah and Colorado. I mean we woke up in Colorado, drove to Utah to the park, drove back into Colorado to eat and now we’ve arrived at the motel in Utah after heading north through Colorado. You’re probably all thinking several wrong turns were made but they weren’t. It was the quickest route up!
Colorado really is a beautiful place to drive through. The roads wind up and down the hills.The speed limit suddenly dropped to 25mph but we didn’t realise why until we nearly went careering off the edge of a cliff! All of a sudden, this road had steep, sharp bends in. Nathan loved it. After his lame attempt at avoiding a pit hole he turned and said he had to hit one to avoid another. I didn’t believe him and his response was “my rally driving career won’t get far with you as my co pilot will it…” No, no it won’t I reply, peeling me sweaty palm off the door handle I was clinging onto for dear life!
Nevertheless, the drive was beautiful and we cruised through the curves of Colorado, singing along to the radio/phone all the way to our motel in Vernal, Utah.
And now we rest…