A Utah Adventure: Part 6, Arches and Moab

Landscape Arch -

Balanced Rock at Sunset

From Calf Creek to Arches National Park, on a good day, is a three and a half hour drive. Two hundred miles. That doesn’t count the short detour we took to visit Goblin Valley State Park. A highly recommended stop I’m told. We didn’t stop because we found out that most of South East Utah was closed to visitors. And it doesn’t count the time in Green River where we had a bite to eat and confirmed the Park was still open.

When we reached Arches, it sunset was fast approaching. I was looking for a good sunset shot.

There were clouds in the sky, now if I could find a foreground to complement them.

We pulled in to the La Sal Mountain Viewpoint. From here we could see the Balanced Rock, about five and a half miles north.

This shot of Balanced Rock was taken with my 100-400 mm lens with my 1.4x extender attached. An effective focal length of 560 mm (according to Lightroom)

Sunset Over Park Avenue

According to Garmin’s map, this rock formation is called Park Avenue. The Park Avenue trail-head is at the base of it on the left, so who am I to argue.

This is my only sunset shot of our trip. Something to put on the list for next time.

Finding a Campsite

If you saw my previous post about Goblin Valley, you will know that finding a secure place to spend the night could be a challenge.

We started with a quick run into Moab. Yep, the streets hadn’t been rolled up, but the sidewalks had been put away. An eerie situation.

I finally settled on driving west on Highway 313 towards Canyonlands National Park. It was well after dark when we pulled into a large, empty parking lot with a simple sign View Point. For us, it was rest area.

In the morning, we pointed the Prius back into Arches NP to explore. Our first stop was the Delicate Arch Viewpoint.

Delicate Arch is Iconic

Delicate Arch is the one on the Utah license plate which makes it ultra famous.

There is one road up through the park with a few side branches. Turn right at the Balanced Rock, drive a few miles to the east and you will reach Wolfe Ranch. This is where the trail-head to the arch is. Round trip is about 3 miles. We continued on to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint where I took this shot.

You can’t get to the arch from the viewpoint because of a canyon so inconsiderately placed in the way.

Rain was promised for the afternoon, so I decided to go up to Devil’s Garden

Landscape Arch

Devil’s Garden is at the end of the park drive. There is a campsite and picnic area as well as the trail-head in to Devil’s Garden proper.

My plan was to visit Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

Liddy and I had an easy walk in to Landscape Arch.

This panorama is not a very good a rendition of the arch. It is quite distorted I’m afraid. I like the wide angle shot I took even less, so you get this one.

Anyway, this is a spectacular arch and, in my opinion, much more delicate than Delicate Arch. (I just checked on Wikipedia and found Delicate Arch was formerly known as School Marms Pants and Old Maids Bloomers amongst other less than PC names.)

Pine Tree Arch

On returning from Landscape Arch, we turned left and headed down the path to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

The Tunnel Arch viewpoint was occupied by a herd of deer as we approached, so Liddy and I decided to press on to see Pine Tree Arch first.

Not sure how this arch came by it’s name, but there are a number of pines on either side.

Tunnel Arch

Returning from Pine Tree Arch you get a great view of Tunnel Arch.

The deer had moved away from the viewpoint now and were getting closer to our path back to the parking lot.

They caught site of Liddy and were immediately intrigued. They had to get closer to check us out.

I was becoming a bit concerned as they kept coming closer to get a better look at my companion. Dogs aren’t allowed in National Parks. I expect they may not have seen one before. Fortunately, Liddy was unperturbed by them, so I had lots of time to shoot this trio with my 18-135 mm lens extended to 100 mm. I didn’t crop it much either.

Inquisitive Raven

Back at the parking lot, another local, a raven, was quite inquisitive. Looking for a handout no doubt.

Spotted Dog at Double Arch

Spotted Dog at Double Arch - The rain was making itself very obvious so Liddy and I decided this was a good place to end our adventure.

I like to get a hero shot of Liddy on trips and this rock in front of Double Arch looked to be a good spot. Trouble was the rain had started in earnest and I couldn’t keep my lens clear.

It was lunch time, and we decided it was time to turn the Prius north for the 1200 mile drive home.

Time To Go Home

It has been almost 6 weeks since we left Arches. Looking back, we were lucky to visit these special places when we did. The country had finally woken up to the full threat of the Corona Virus and COVID-19. My wife was telling me of the restrictions being put in place back home in Washington. Southeast Utah closed all lodging a couple of days before I got to Moab. I wasn’t aware until I pulled in to Goblin Valley.

Visiting a tourist town like Moab, and these national parks where normally you can’t move for people… well it was quite surreal now that I look back on it. I found Moab quite depressing, no restaurants, no campsites or hotels available. No one to chat up and share stories with. Not fun.

I did find a hotel room north of Salt Lake City to break that 1200 mile drive home. My plan to car camp had become old. It was time to get home.

The photography conference, The Outsiders Landscape Photography Conference has been rescheduled for April, 2021. I have my ticket still so, God willing and the creek don’t rise, Liddy and I will make our way back to Kanab. Hopefully the crowds will have returned (not all of them) and we will all be back taking a moment to enjoy this magnificent landscape.

3 thoughts on “A Utah Adventure: Part 6, Arches and Moab”

  1. Very enjoyable post. I’ve been to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, but not Arches. I can see that I should’ve made time for Arches while in the area.

    1. I will be returning next April and expect the crowding to be approaching near normal (pity) (good thing) (conflicted ;))
      Now that I have had a scouting mission, I will plan to go to some less popular places.
      So glad you enjoyed our story.

  2. My long distance driving days are over (age has a way of cramping one’s style), but your blog let’s me re-live (or, in some cases, vicariously live anew) visits to some of North America’s most scenic natural areas.

    Take care.

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