Posting by Caroline Seitz
We entered the surreal world of Arches National Park, UT on Friday October 22, 2010. It was as if we had been transported to an alien world. Bizarre rock formations appeared through the misty, rainy desert day like something out of a dream.Arches National Park comprises 119 square miles of protected land containing over 2000 natural sandstone arches.
Even though it was cold and raining, we braved the elements and spent a few hours hiking in the park.
Most of the arches in the park have names. The arch pictured below is “Landscape Arch.” This arch is 290 feet long but only 6 feet thick in its thinnest section. It is nearing the end of its “lifespan” – it could collapse at any moment.
The most famous arch in the park is Delicate Arch – the arch that is featured on the Utah license plate. Below, Will is pointing to the famous arch.
Many of the arches seemed like portals into other dimensions or worlds. Like the Star Trek Episode “City on the Edge of Forever” – I thought if I went through this arch, I would be transported to an alternate reality.
Was that an alien creature on the other side of the portal?
No, just a beautiful raven. After exploring the arches in the freezing cold, we need to refuel ourselves and have lunch.
After our delicious lunch, we loaded up into the car and headed out to Canyonlands National Park.
Canyonlands is a totally different experience from Arches. Easy access and day hikes are a big part of Arches, but Canyonlands is a much larger and formidable park. Although the main roads are paved and well maintained, most of the 530 square miles of Canyonlands are only accessible via off-road vehicle, horse, raft, or foot.
One of my favorite books, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey features both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks (before they were National Parks) as prominent “characters” in the story. Abbey is able to capture the essence of the look, feel, and even smell of the area. He also echoes many of my own thoughts of the desert: “Strolling on, it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life-forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey
Next, we’re headed to Mesa Verde National Park, CO.