A Quick Trip Through Utah’s Arches National Park

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I had been at Arches once before, in 2002, driving a huge van of campers from my ranch where I worked, Orme, in Arizona. I have memories of long games of Mad Libs and singalongs to some song about tomcats (called “Look Me Up” by BR549, my co-counselor Addy just reminded me on Facebook!) but not much else.

This time, SVV and I detached the trailer and left it at the visitor’s center—the ranger suggested we do so with as crowded as the park was the day we visited—and with Ella in tow (naturally), we drove the 36-mile loop through Arches National Park at leisure, pulling over to take photos whenever the inspiration struck.

Arches is one of the most photogenic spots I’ve visited of anywhere in the world, even if the formations are at times, er, a bit questionable!

More than 2,000 sandstone arches, big and small, occupy the park. If you haven’t visited before, it’s definitely a sight to behold.

On the first day, we only tackled a couple short hikes, the first of which was out to the Windows.

This one is one of the louder spots in Arches, as it’s an easy walk (about a half a mile) and, thus, a lot of families do it with small kids (and screaming babies, as we found).

Still, who knew big piles of rocks could be so interesting?

I could have pulled over and snapped a shot of every last one of them.

But the weather wasn’t having any of it. After an hour or two in the park, the ominous clouds on the horizon started spilling over the park and rolling right toward our direction. Once we saw a few cracks of lightning, we knew it was time to leave.

But we came back. The nice thing about having the national parks pass is that we can leave and revisit the same park as many times as we want and not have to pay again. (Though your $10 entry to Arches is good for seven days anyway.) It’s a pretty steep mile-and-a-half hike out to Delicate Arch, but then coming back is nice because it’s all downhill.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the oddest thing we’ve found on this trip is just how rude people can be toward perfect strangers. Sure, there are many more friendly people who stop to say “hello” or wave as they pass us on trails, but multiple times, we’ve had snarky comments made toward our direction—people adding their two cents about anything and everything—by (always) grouchy, old, retired Americans. What gives? I’ll mind my business, you mind yours. Everybody’s happy, and then I don’t have to sick my ferocious pooch on you. But the rudest we’ve encountered thus far was a German woman who was determined to get her perfect shot of Delicate Arch.

We reached Delicate Arch—a three-mile, round-trip hike—about an hour before sunset to find dozens of amateur photographers with their tripods set up and their cameras pointing toward the most famous of the park’s formations.

We joined the pack.

While we were waiting for the light to change, this sprightly Chinese girl who didn’t speak much English ran up to the base of the Arch so her boyfriend could take her picture. This was not a big deal; she had every right to have her picture as those of us with our cameras set up did. But one disgruntled German woman was having NONE of it. She stood up and starting shouting at the girl: “NOT NOW! GET OUT OF THE WAY!” in a very abrasive manner. To which SVV responded, “if you don’t have your shot by now, you’re not going to get it.” Seriously, the lighting was the same for a solid 45 minutes, and the setting didn’t change any. Was there any need to be such a witch? No, no there was not.

I’m only glad that woman wasn’t American. Lord knows, we don’t need help with that “ugly American” image in the global eye! I saw the girl later, and I apologized for the woman yelling at her and made sure to clarify: “she wasn’t American! We’re not that bad!” But given the language barrier, I’m pretty sure that she thought I did the yelling and, therefore, was apologizing. Oh well. From now on, I’ll just keep my trap shut.

SVV and I got ballsy ourselves and jumped out and took our picture on timer. Nobody yelled at us. I’d like to think they knew better.

We stayed for half an hour and then made our way back to the car. It sure is beautiful, but I mean really, there are only so many pictures you can take of a rock that doesn’t move!

Due to the weather, we held off to hike Delicate Arch on the final of our five days in the Moab area, and I’m sure glad we did and that Mother Nature was on our side for a change.

*All photos taken with a Canon T1i and Canon 24-105mm lens and Sigma 10-20mm lens with an ND filter.

**For more Photo Friday fun, visit Delicious Baby.

COMMENTS
  • June 3, 2011
    leslie

    Been reading you for quite some time.i have a 12 year old daughter that wants a dog so so so much. I have looked at all kinds of breeds and really like little Ella the Maltese. Can you tell me where you got little Ella? I want a family member that will be with us forever…and now that “I” have decided…not sure where to turn. Are they really a thousand dollar pup? We aren’t interested in breeding or showing. Any help world traveler?

    • June 3, 2011
      Kristin

      Hi Leslie! Yes, they can be expensive even if you don’t plan on showing them, because they’re such a desirable breed (mild-tempered, great around kids, hypo-allergenic, well-behaved). That said, I would start checking the classifieds in the newspapers of all the towns and states around you. That’s where we got Ella’s mom, Katey, in the end (and then Ella was an unplanned pregnancy, as my mom and I were in Africa, Katey went into heat early, and her one unfixed boy Kobe got to Katey while no one was around!). After searching for a year (we wanted a girl and they’re much harder to come by, and more expensive, than the boys), we found her via a guy in Nashville. We paid $800 for her; I think the boys in his litter were $600. But I had been checking the classified ads for Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama for months as that’s a popular way for dog owners to list their pups.

      You could also try services like Petfinder. Though *beware* of scammers; this happened (https://www.camelsandchocolate.com/2009/01/why-do-internet-scammers-also-hail-from-nigeria/) to me when we were searching for a dog. Apparently, Africa scammers are now targeting dog lovers; it’s absurd. Still, I know someone who found a Maltese on Petfinder, and he was the runt of the litter (and thus not deemed a good show dog), so the owner was happy to ship him from Minnesota to California to her. And nothing was wrong with him; he was just small when born!

      I would also keep my eye out for Malteses around where you live, and if you see one, don’t feel bad stopping the owner and ask where he got the dog. You never know when you might find someone like my mom who used to breed her Maltese just for fun because she had such a long list of friends in town who also wanted one.

      Good luck. I have a feeling you’ll find you your pup!

      • June 4, 2011
        leslie

        Thanks so much for the answer Kristin. I really appreciate it. Ella is awesome and I love “city dog” posts.

        • June 7, 2011
          Kristin

          She thanks you for that! =)

  • June 3, 2011

    So gorgeous!

    I’m shocked too by how rude some people can be. Of all nationalities, really! I hope the young couple got the shots they wanted, anyways.

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      That’s true–luckily, we’ve encountered so many more nice people than trolls! So there’s that at least.

  • June 3, 2011

    Gorgeous photos!

  • June 3, 2011

    So lovely! I hope you know that because of your posts I’ve added Utah as a place to take a road trip. Even despite the crappy weather you’ve had, it sounds like it’s been quite the fun adventures. (German tourists excluded.)

    • June 3, 2011
      Kristin

      That makes me happy! Maybe Utah Tourism should hire me as a roaming promoter of sorts? =) It seriously is one of my favorite states–so much diversity and natural beauty–and I hope to go back next winter to see the other side of the state: mountains and skiing!

  • June 3, 2011

    Gorgeous!! I’m so bummed there were so many rude people down there! (But, slightly relieved that the “ugly tourists” weren’t “ugly Utahans”, I like to think we are a little more accommodating than that! Goodness!)

    I love all your Utah posts, you do a state proud, my dear! 🙂

    xox

    • June 3, 2011
      Kristin

      That’s because Ugly Utahans simply don’t exist! All the rude ones we encountered were of the Baby Boomer generation, out of staters who were covered from head to toe in clothing (not suited for hiking) and definitely didn’t look like they belonged in national parks!

  • June 3, 2011

    I absolutely LOVE your photos! Made me so excited since I am headed out to Arches in August (nuts, I know) with my two sons. I think we’ve signed up for a special hike to the Fiery Furnace?? with the parks ranger. Can’t wait after seeing your pics!

    • June 3, 2011
      Kristin

      The only other time I’ve been to Arches was in August, and while yet it’s a bit steamy, I love the heat and didn’t find it too stifling. At least you’ll be guaranteed nice weather, unlike us for the majority of this trip—rain, snow, more rain, more snow…wash, rinse, repeat. Have a great trip!

    • June 3, 2011

      Oooh! The Fiery Furnace is supposed to be amazing!!!! That’s so awesome! Take lots (and lots and LOTS) of water!

      xox

  • June 3, 2011

    I’m rather surprised to hear of such rudeness. At the canyon everyone just seems so happy to be here they leave the frowns behind and definitely smile at and talk to strangers. Maybe that’s just me, being a Ranger. I hope not.
    National Parks are for Everybody. Of course Everybody wants that “perfect” photo with no strangers in it. Not always an easy feat at the most popular, and easy to get to, overlooks/scenics…
    Arches is yet another SW park I haven’t been to in 35+ years. Shame on me.
    Ella looks so striking against the red rock.
    Have fun in Yellowstone.
    (I think fall traveling with an RV would be tamer weather wise. But this has been an adventure.)

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      We’ve learned the hard way that August and September is probably the best time to travel by trailer! Next time, we’ll know better.

  • June 3, 2011

    I just love the contrast of those red rocks against the blue, blue sky!

  • June 3, 2011

    There’s a face in the cloud in the upper left hand corner of one of the photos 🙂

    • June 7, 2011
      SVV

      AWESOME. I didn’t even see that but love that you did!

      Shot #8?

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      That face has some wild hair going on, too! Nice catch, Hundewanderer.

  • June 3, 2011

    Delicate Arch is one of my favorite spots in the world. I like to snap a photo when someone is standing under it for scale. In a photo, you don’t realize quite how big it is until you notice the tiny human figure standing under it.

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      Barbara, the last time I was at Delicate in 2003, I took that very photo, but with dozens of photographers aligned to get their sunset shots (and the rude woman who yelled at others), I wasn’t about to run to the base this time! Shame, too, as you really can’t gauge its size based on a panoramic shot.

  • June 3, 2011

    We were in Moab, at Arches last August, and it rained then too, which is why I think the park was nearly empty. But, everyone was super friendly (and it was nearly all Europeans, I think we were the only Americans in town!) Fantastic photos!

  • June 3, 2011

    We encountered some really mean people in that area as well! Sheesh, some people are just awful – you totally should have sent Ella after them. 😉

    Great photos of the Delicate Arch; we didn’t actually take any from that vantage point because we arrived too late to complete the hike before sunset. The other side (across the canyon) was quite pretty, though, and more importantly is was empty of those pesky tourists!

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      That’s so funny! Wonder what it is about Arches that attracts the trolls? Everywhere else we’ve been–Custer, Rushmore, Yellowstone, etc.–people have been absolutely delightful.

  • June 3, 2011
    JeJe

    Beautiful artwork KiKi! (and SVV)

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks, Sween!

  • June 5, 2011

    Ach, amateur photographers drive me bonkers. I hate when I’m trying to enjoy and experience an attraction while on vacation and I’ve got people getting pissy because I’m in their shot. The worst is when people sit there with video cameras at the zoo and they get mad because I walk into their shot. What, you really think anyone’s going to sit there and watch your fucking home movie of a tiger that’s not moving? Fuck you, I paid money to see the animals and I’m going to see the animals.

    That being said, I love YOUR pictures, and I feel confident that no tourists were harmed in their making. Keep ’em coming!

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      AHHHH, you kill me. Just so you know, SVV and I do dramatic readings of your comments in the trailer. Oh, and the other day, I dreamed we detoured off our route and decided to go through Kansas instead and ran into you at an antique store where we were looking for–what else?–but maps.

  • June 5, 2011

    Beautiful photos! So much beauty we take for granted back in the states. That combination of orange/ochre with blue is a photographer’s love.

    • June 7, 2011
      Kristin

      Agreed! While I’m a huge proponent of international travel (obviously), I get sad for Americans who never actually see any of our country. Or worse, those smug people abroad who have negative associations with the States due to our (previous) leader and, therefore, think it has nothing to offer by way of tourism. I lived in Holland during Bush’s second term and encountered many locals with that mentality.

  • June 6, 2011

    Gorgeous photos! I love going to Arches. Too bad about that awful woman. But I kinda can relate… I was taking photos of my niece and nephews on the beach at sunset on vacation and I had it set up perfectly all I needed was all of them to smile at the same time… And a guy with a bike came right in behind them covering the sunset. I was so mad! I didn’t say anything, but I swear he did it on purpose. People on both sides are jerks sometimes.

    • June 11, 2011
      Kristin

      Ha, well that wasn’t very nice of the guy on the bike! But this lady–and all the others toting cameras (ourselves included)–were perched on the edge of the canyon for an hour just waiting, watching…and there was absolutely no reason the poor little girl couldn’t run out there and get her picture taken. The light didn’t change for a solid half hour, and as my husband said: “if she didn’t have her shot by then, she wasn’t getting it!”

  • June 10, 2011

    Love the photo that looks like HDR – or is that HDR? I don’t have the patience to wait for those photos, I enjoy looking at everyone’s in awe!

    • June 11, 2011
      Kristin

      No HDR! That’s something neither of us has ever experimented with. (We’re lazy. And I’m too impatient to learn something new, ha.) We took the tripod out there, so it was a long exposure–maybe 20 seconds-ish?–and we used a neutral density filter.

      • July 12, 2011

        You could always do the poor man’s HDR. Take three similar pictures all at three different exposures and work your magic in photoshop.

  • July 11, 2011

    You’ve made the rocks look very interesting. I love the photos! Since I’ve been to Sedona, AZ before, I didn’t think that a trip to the arches was worth the time but maybe so now.

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