Okay children. Today Pat the Tour Guide is taking you to Arches National Park in Utah. So sit back, fasten your seat belts, zip your lips, and enjoy the ride!
Arches National Park is located just outside the town of Moab. I remember the town well. Moab is known for its many trails for off-roading. There were Jeeps everywhere. We stuck out like a sore thumb driving around in Big Blue. The town seemed young, athletic and hip. It had some neat little shops, a handful of restaurants, three bookstores, and several sports shops and Jeep rental stores. We stayed at a campground that had just opened up a new area. It had rained a lot recently and the ground was pretty wet. Our truck and trailer are pretty heavy and we were a little leery driving towards our site. Sure enough, our trailer got stuck AND our truck sunk in halfway up the tires. We were NOT happy campers! The owner of the campground hooked up HIS truck to OUR truck which was hooked up to the TRAILER and he pulled us out of that mess. I thought it would have made a good commercial because he had a FORD truck and we had a CHEVY. I told this to Jim but he didn't think it was funny. (Men and their trucks. I'll never understand them!) Jim explained to me that the reason the FORD truck was able to pull us out was because he had traction and was on drier ground. Not because it was a FORD. Oh. Whatever.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Arches National Park. The park is actually open all year. Yep. 24 hours a day. I was surprised to hear that. The visitor's center is open 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day. The fee is nominal to get in: $5 per person or $10 per vehicle. AND these passes are good for 7 days. And believe me, you wouldn't mind going back another day, or two!
Enough jaw-jagging! I see some of you are falling asleep! WAKE UP! Let us begin, shall we?
Here is the scenery right at the entrance of the park. Beautiful, yes?
The rangers told us to keep an eye out for bighorn sheep that liked to roam along the top of ridges there. Alas, we didn't see a one!
But we did see these rocks clinging to the edge!
This is looking down at the road towards the town of Moab.
Just look at these beautiful rock formations!
This is one of the many balanced rocks throughout the park. Doesn't it look like it will topple right over?
The following picture doesn't really convey the size of these huge rocks. This is called Park Avenue, fashioned after the famous street in New York with all its tall buildings in a row.
This certainly was NOT on the guide map, but doesn't it look like this rock is giving us "the finger"?
You know how I feel about the names of rocks. No? Let me tell you again. Many of the places we've traveled to have already named the rocks. Sometimes the name fits. Sometimes not. This one is called "Three Gossips". Okay. I get it. It COULD look like three people wearing long robes and standing together.
This next one is called, "The Sheep." I stood there for the longest time trying to find a sheep in this rock. I squinted my eyes. I cocked my head. I moved to the left. I moved to the right. I closed one eye. Nope. Could not see it. Jim was coaching me, trying to help me see it. I COULD NOT SEE IT! Other tourists came by. Even THEY tried to help me find it. But to no avail. Can YOU see the sheep in the rock?
Did you find it? Or are you ready to give up? Here's a close up of the damn sheep.
I FINALLY saw it when Jim said that it was on the SIDE of the rock. All along I thought it was on the FACE of the rock. AHA!
These are ancient sand dunes from over 200 MILLION years ago! Winds from the northwest carried fine grained sand into this area, creating a large dessert. Then over time the sand drifts were covered by various layers of sediment, compressed, then cemented with quartz and calcite. Due to erosion, the layers washed away, exposing the petrified dunes.
You may wonder why this park is named "Arches" National Park. Call me crazy, but it probably has something to do with the fact that there are over 2,000 cataloged arches in the park! According to their web site "In order to be considered an arch, an opening must measure at least three feet in any direction."
Take a gander at this double arch.
This is the largest and most famous of the balanced rocks in the park. It is known as, "Balanced Rock". The total rock formation stands 128 feet tall, the boulder height alone is 55 feet. The boulder weighs a hefty 3,500 TONS. (Gee, I wonder where they got a scale big enough to WEIGH that sucker?) Just to give you an idea of how large that rock is, look at that teeny tiny man by the pink arrow. Actually, he's a normal sized man; he's just dwarfed by the huge rock.
There is a nice walking path around Balanced Rock so you can get UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL to it if you'd like. Me like.
An adventurous soul.
Another awesome arch for your viewing pleasure!
Okay kiddies, I can tell you are getting a little antsy and it's time for a potty break. This tour will continue next Friday. So hold on to your tickets - remember they're good for SEVEN DAYS. Meet me at the same bus stop next week for the remainder of your tour.
You were all good little girls and boys.
Next time you might want to bring a sack lunch.
Over and out.