As is our habit we left the campground a bit late in the day (noon is our average) and if we had followed the advice of the former tour guide, we would have spent the whole day at Island in the Sky and it is clear we could easily have done that… it’s gorgeous, with lots of hiking trails and overlooks. However, we couldn’t go to Moab and not see the iconic Arches 🙂 so we covered ourselves in sunscreen, paid our $5 entrance and beelined for the Double Arches after a bunch of switchbacks and a couple scenic veiws.
The Double Arch trailhead in the Windows Section of the park, in a loop with 2 parking lots and a bunch of trails all of which are really short and level (just hot… so take enough water). A couple of minutes after parking the motorcycle we’re already in sight of the arches and realizing how incredibly high they are off the ground. I tried to take a picture showing people sitting in the arch just to get an idea of scale, but that doesn’t even do it justice. Unlike other attractions though, here you can literally climb up into the arch – pleasantly cool in the shade. However it seems like it is usually quite busy. The shorter the hike the more kids there will be we’re slowly learning.
Despite the scale, the vividness of the sandstone, and the alien landscape. The most interesting charasteristic of the park is its channels of rock jutting out of the ground. Seemingly common at first, i then read a diagram describing the alternating geological age of the different layers of stone and how they’re affected by weathering. Because over millions of years, the more brittle stone under the older stone slowly gives away, creating holes, then the iconic arches if the weight holds i suppose. Not mind blowing i know but still interesting to see how they came to be, and others in the process of becoming that will finally arch long after were gone. In a way it felt like i was viewing beings whose lifetimes were millions of years long, immortal sandstone giants.
We did a quick walk through the north window for a couple of photos and before leaving the loop we had a look at a random overlook of a flat valley; at first it looks like nothing, then you read the sign and it explains how the collapsed salt valleys are formed. Looking at an aerial picture of the valley it would look like lots of deep gauges in the rock, all criss-crossing in the same general direction. 🙂
The road into the national park is really scenic – switchbacks steeply up red, rocky hills. The snowy La Sal mountains are visible all around the park too, which makes for a confusing view – desert, rock and sand in the foreground, then green mountains and white peaks in the distance. On the way out (and down) we had a gorgeous view of the valley… and on to Canyonlands 🙂