Climbing the Delicate Arch Trail
There was still plenty of light left when we got to Arches National Park, our last stop in Utah. We knew it would not last, however, so we decided to forgo finding a campground for now, and head straight into the park. Our goal was to see the famous Delicate Arch (the one pictured on Utah license plates) before the sun set. We headed to the beginning of the trail and started up! The Delicate Arch Trail is a moderately difficult, 3 mile round trip. The first mile and a half to the Arch is up a rock face trail, that is well marked by cairns and established paths, but don't worry...it's just as easy to follow the other couple dozen hikers going to the same place! This trail should be no problem if you are physically fit, just make sure you bring plenty of water.
There she is! View through the rock opening
It can easily surpass 100 degrees in the summer! We were there at dusk and it wasn't too hot, but the uphill hike can take a lot out of you. It is certainly well worth it at the end! As we got near the top, the trail narrowed and we came to an opening in the rock wall. We clambered up to the opening and were greeted with a stunning view! The setting sun was shining directly on the Arch, lighting up it's reddish-orange hues that are common to this area. We climbed back down to the trail and scrambled the last several yards to the actual viewing area. There is a natural bowl-like ampitheater in front of the Arch, and a row of rocks acting as a sitting/viewing area. There were dozens of people already there for the sunset, and they were lining up to take turns standing in front of the Arch for a photo opportunity.
Can you see me, at the base? That's how big this thing is!
Anyone who stayed in front of the Arch for more than 20 seconds or so was greeted with shouts from the crowd of "Move it! Move it! let someone else have a turn! we're losing the sun!" For the most part, folks were respectful of each others chance to get "the perfect shot". We were able to get about 2 shots each of each other before the crowd got antsy and shood us away! I was able to climb down behind and below the Arch, and got some neat shots of the setting sun through the Arch itself.
We hung around at the top for close to an hour or so, then it was time to start heading back. The sun was down now, and we were losing the light fast. We still had a mile and a half hike back to the parking lot, but at least it was downhill now! Now just about everyone was heading down at the same time, so even without a lot of light, it was easy to stay on the trail.
Sunset through the back of the Arch
It was totally dark by the time we got back, but we made it no problem. ( There is another, easier viewing trail here that has no climbing and is only a few hundred yards walk, but the view of the Arch is far away) We drove on down into Moab, and had no problems finding a campsite with plenty of room. It was too late to do the fire/dinner thing though, so we went to a diner/ice cream parlor we had passed on the way. We had a nice meal and finished off the evening with double chocolate ice cream waffle cones. A perfect way to end a great day!