The story of our visit to Arches National Park actually starts 8 years ago when Brad & I first visited the park in 2008. We had planned to stop at Arches on our way home from a week long road trip around Utah. We arrived later in the day than we expected and hadn’t allowed ourselves as much time as we would have liked. But we had to begin our drive to Washington at sunrise the next morning, so we grabbed a map of the park and started making our way to as many of the arches as we could. We would drive to one of the arches, hike anywhere from a few hundred feet to nearly a mile, take a few pictures and moments to enjoy it, then rush back to car to drive to the next location. We saw some amazing things – Double Arch, the Windows, the Parade of Elephants, Landscape Arch…but what I hadn’t realized at the time was that one of the arches that I most wanted to see – Delicate Arch – was a 3.5 mile roundtrip hike. We had stopped at one viewpoint for it, but from that point it was nearly a mile away and not the view I was hoping for. When we parked at the trailhead for the hike to a better view, the sun was already setting.
“We can make it!” I insisted. “I don’t think we should,” Brad replied.
A few hundred feet up the trail….”I don’t think this is a good idea. We don’t even have flashlights, ” Brad warns. “No, we just need to hurry, and we can do this!” I insisted through panting breaths as we hurried up the trail. The sky was getting darker.
A half mile further…”This doesn’t seem worth it,” Brad pleaded. “I am going to see this arch!” was my reply. Our eyes were straining to find the cairns in the twilight.
When the trail started up a rock surface and the trail disappeared into only a series of cairns across the expansive sandstone Brad stopped walking. “Sarah, this is dangerous. We HAVE to turn back.” I stopped too. And I cried.
We waited until another group of hikers with head lamps came hiking out, and we trailed them back to our parked car in darkness.
Every mention of Arches National Park, every postcard image of the Delicate Arch, and every story about our 2008 trip to this site has taken me back to the feeling of that moment – of wanting to see that arch so badly and the horrible realization more than 1/2 way there on the trail that we just couldn’t make it out there.
So, flash forward to November 2016. I’ll give you 1 guess what priority #1 was for us on this day…
Even though the 3.5 mile jaunt would be a challenge for those in our party with the shortest legs, we decided as a group that we would tackle it first thing. The kids were amazing! Sunny, of course, more or less skipped the whole way there and back except when I insisted that she slow down and hold my hand in the more treacherous places. Coral had to put a little more effort into it, as this was her longest hike ever, but she was a champ as well!
At one point all four of us went out under the arch, laid down on our backs, and looked up at the arch going across the sky. It was a really special moment for me.
Oh yeah…and we saw some other cool stuff too.
There’s just so much more beauty that we see every day that we aren’t able to capture in our photos. After the fun day of exploring the park, we spent the evening in Moab. We’d gotten so tired of preparing sack lunches and eating cold dinners in tupperware for all of these day trips, so we decided it would be fun to splurge on our 2nd restaurant of the trip so far. We sat at a pizza & salad buffet for over 2 hours!