Road Trip Day 13 – Sweating My Face Off at Arches National Park

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Since we missed out on Zion National Park in Utah, I wanted to make sure we devoted plenty of time to Arches National Park, near the town of Moab. What I failed to take into consideration, however, is that most of the arches that make Arches famous require hiking to see. And it was August. And sunny. And incredibly hot.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

… Yeah, we probably didn't think this one through too well.

Arches National Park, Utah

Instead of doing some of the longer hikes in the park (such as the hours-long hike out to the famous Delicate Arch), we instead opted to just drive through the entire park, stopping at all the viewpoints, and doing a few of the shorter hikes to some of the more accessible arches.

Arches National Park, Utah

Well, I should say that I did a few of the shorter hikes, while Melissa sat in the car most of the time.

Arches National Park, Utah

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy Arches — because I did. It's a really worthwhile national park, with plenty of cool rocks and arches to see and climb. It's just that I hadn't planned on losing roughly 10 pounds in sweat while exploring it.

Arches National Park, Utah

But, once I started getting all gross and sweaty, I figured the only option was to keep going. So, armed with more water than I've ever drunk before in a 4-hour span, I tackled the following at Arches:

PARK  AVENUE — Okay, so this one really required no “tackling,” as I didn't actually do the hike here. Melissa and I just hopped out of the car at the lookout, and got our first taste of the red rocks of Arches.

Park Avenue, Arches National Park, Utah

BALANCED  ROCK — A quick 10-minute walk here loops around an interesting rock formation — a gigantic boulder balancing on a pillar of rock.

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah

The path around Balanced Rock is lined with dozens — maybe even hundreds — of cairns, man-made piles of stones that are often left behind by hikers to mark trails. I don't really think this trail needs any more marking, however. At this point, I think people build them just for fun, and to add to the collection.

Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

THE  WINDOWS  SECTION — The Windows Section was one of the longer hikes that I did (and the beginning of Melissa's relaxing stint in the car). The whole loop around this section is 1 mile, and the estimated hike time is set at 30-60 minutes, which was pretty dead-on. I went first to the North Window, which was the toughest part of the hike. It was all out in the baking sun, and all uphill. Granted, it wasn't very steep… but the hill plus the heat plus the high altitude had me sweating and panting in no time.

North Window, Arches National Park, Utah

I took a break in the shadow of the North Window arch before continuing on.

North Window, Arches National Park, Utah

Next came the South Window.

South Window, Arches National Park, Utah

And then, lastly, Turret Arch. Part of me really wanted to climb through this one, but I was beat by this point, and had already drunk my bottle of water.

Turret Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

I settled for turning around and getting a view of both the Windows — a view some people call “The Eyeglasses.”)

Arches National Park, Utah

DOUBLE  ARCH — Not far from the Windows section sits Double Arch. Which you can probably figure out from its name. A gentle 5-10-minute walk gets you out to this arch.

Double Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

If you climb through Double Arch, you can also see the Cove of Caves. Melissa and I, however, opted to sit in the shade and watch some guy propose to his girlfriend.

Double Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

PANORAMA  POINT — This was just a lookout. It did, indeed, give a pretty cool panorama of the park.

Arches National Park, Utah

DELICATE  ARCH  VIEWPOINT — The half-mile hike to the Delicate Arch viewpoint doesn't sound too bad on paper. But once you get going and realize that it is entirely uphill (like, climbing a small mountain uphill), the hike becomes a lot less fun. But, I wasn't about to tackle to popular 3-mile hike out to the arch itself on such a hot day, so I forced myself to climb this damn hill.

Arches National Park, Utah

Was it worth it? Probably.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

FIERY  FURNACE — This was another viewpoint, although you can take Ranger-led hikes through this labyrinth of narrow canyons. The area is named because, at certain times of day, the sun hits the rocks just right and makes them look like they're on fire. The day we were there, I would have said the whole park could have been called Fiery Furnace.

Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park, Utah
Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park, Utah

SKYLINE  ARCH — You can hike out to this arch on an easy path that will take about 15 minutes round-trip, but we opted to just look at it from the car. By this point, we were pretty tired. And hungry.

Arches National Park, Utah

SAND  DUNE  ARCH — As we drove through the Arches campground to turn around and head back out of the park, we came upon a French couple trying to hitchhike a ride back to their car. They had done a 40-minute hike, and didn't want to hike another hour back. So we squashed them in on top of all our stuff, and drove them back to Sand Dune Arch. Here, they suggested we do the easy 5-minute hike to the arch, which winds through a little slot canyon. We decided to do it.

Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park, Utah

Sand Dune Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

It was actually probably my favorite arch in the park. The arch itself wasn't that exciting, but the short hike was in the shade, and the ground underfoot was covered in deep, cool sand. The kind of sand that's soft and fine and makes you just want to lay down in it.

Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park, Utah

It was definitely a great way to end our day at Arches.

Arches National Park, Utah

So would I recommend a trip to Arches National Park? Absolutely. But I would not recommend it on a sunny August day. At least, not if you actually plan to get out of your car.

Arches National Park, Utah

Each day, I’ll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we’ve been up to. Here’s Day 13:

Tomorrow, it's on to Keystone, Colorado!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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43 Comments on “Road Trip Day 13 – Sweating My Face Off at Arches National Park

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  1. Great post & great pictures. I remember doing this exact hike when I visited Arches National Park a few years ago. I agree yes I would recommend this hike, but not in the dead summer heat of August. However the views make up for the exhaustion.

      Thank you, Jaime! I have friends who have done the full Delicate Arch hike (the one that takes a few hours), and said it was good. But they did it in the fall, when it wasn’t nearly so hot!

      Had it been a bit cooler, I think I would have been more adventurous to try and get some different photos! But I’m still happy with our day there.

    Wonderful photos! You brought me back wonderful memories. I loved Arches.

      Arches seems to be a favorite for a lot of people. I’m glad I could bring back some good memories for you! Thanks for reading. 🙂

    Arches is awesome. Glad you went there. Great photos too. When I was last there it was winter, and the daytime temp was around 45 degrees, not too bad once you get moving around. Moab is really dead in January though, let me tell you. I can imagine August would be pretty brutal temperature wise.

      I remember seeing your photos of it in the winter. It looked beautiful then, too! And I’m sure a daytime temp of 45 is MUCH nicer than 105! Ick.

      I really liked Moab, though, and would love to visit again sometime!

    Great post. Some really nice photos. Cannot wait to get driving around the West Coast of the USA in just over 2 weeks! Hope we find some just as interesting places as these!

      Thanks, guys. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

      And, if you plan to be driving around the West Coast soon, I guarantee you’ll find some interesting places! Have fun!

    I visited in May, and it was still close to 100. I didn’t do the hike to delicate arch either, and I still feel guilty about it today. The morning I was there they didn’t even run the fiery furnace tour because of the conditions.

      Ah, bummer! I don’t regret skipping the long Delicate Arch hike, thankfully. I know there’s no way I would have enjoyed myself in that heat. But it’s too bad you’re still feeling guilty about it! I guess that just means you’ll have to go back.

    I’m glad you went to the Windows and Double Arch. That was my favorite area of the park. Jon and I spent a long time in the shade of Double Arch, too, sitting up on the ledge of the arch in the back overlooking the park.

      I’m glad I did the Windows section before the annoying climb up to the Delicate Arch viewpoint. Even though it was hot a sweaty climbing to the North Window, I still really enjoyed that. And Double Arch was definitely worth seeing, although I didn’t climb up to that ledge like you guys did.

    Wow, from the pictures I would say your instant lose-weight program was totally worth it 🙂

      Haha, definitely! Not sure it’s really the healthiest weight loss method though… lol.

    Oh, wow… While I’m a BIG baby weather-wise and don’t like any temperature that’s too hot or too cold, I think I would brave the heat for views like this… But thankfully today I don’t have to since I can just enjoy yours!! Thanks for sharing 😉


      My sister is a lot like you – which is why she hid out in the car most of the day! Haha. But I’m glad I sweated my face off for some of these views! Glad you enjoyed them, too. 🙂

    Thanks Amanda. While the snow is lying around our property this article really seemed out of place!! The heat – I love it, as long as I’m not climbing some hill like you were here – loved the video too!!

      Heh, yes, I’m sure it’s strange to be reading about such extreme heat when you’ve got snow on the ground! It’s weird for me to think of wearing snow boots when it’s so hot outside here! 😉 Glad you liked the post and video though!

    We were planning to visit Arches last Christmas, but ended up going to the Dominican Republic instead. I really want to see this place. We have been to Zion, but I think I’m going to like Arches even more. Great photos! Glad you made the best of it. We were in Zion in early September and it was really tough doing the hikes. No A/C in our car either!!!!

      We didn’t get the chance to go to Zion, but I’m really happy that we chose Arches as the only NP we could see in Utah (we also saw Monument Valley, but that’s not actually a national park). It was very cool, even though the temperatures weren’t!

    I love Arches and whole Moab area. I spent 2 weeks hiking there and the Needles district of Canyonlands, the May before last. The Delicate Arch Trail is great but so packed, so many people waiting for the sun to set. I’m glad you got to see Arches but that is so hot, you are brave.

      I really liked Moab, too. I’d love to go back sometime when it’s not quite so teeming with tourists. And I definitely want to make it to Canyonlands, too!

    I’m not sure if I’ve asked before, but what kind of camera do you use? Your photos are always so stunning! Obviously a lot of it comes from your talent, but I’d imagine it’s a nice camera too?

    And do you do any post editing?

    Love the photos and love the venue. Looks like another place to add to my every growing list.

      Definitely a place to add to your list. 🙂

      And, as far as my camera, it’s not actually an expensive one. I use a Canon PowerShot SX210, which is just a fancy point-and-shoot. It is a nice camera with a good zoom on it, but it’s still small enough to fit in my pocket. And, as for post-editing on my photos, I usually just boost some of the levels a bit in iPhoto. Nothing major, though!

        Ah, nice! I’ve got the Canon SX20IS, and it definitely doesn’t fit in my pocket. Takes spectacular photos when I remember to take it out with me though, haha.

          Canon makes some great cameras. I’ve always been tempted to get a fancy DSLR. But, the reality is that I’d probably still use my point-and-shoot most of the time, since it’s so portable. So I figure why spend the extra money, when my little pocket-sized camera can take such great shots??

    This park looks like a really great place to visit, it looks amazing with all the arches and the red rocks. I usually don’t mind the heat, but judging from your experience August is probably not the best time to do go there 🙂

      August would be a fine time to visit if you just wanted to go and drive through the park. But actually hiking? No thanks! I don’t think I’d do that in August again. 😉

    I’m loving the road trip stories, Amanda! I just did a quick sprint from LA to Chicago in three days and wish there had been more time to explore some of the things you’ve seen!
    Having said that, my trip was in an old van with a stranger from craigslist, so probably good it was hurried.
    Check it out if you’re interested:
    Look forward to hearing what happens with you guys next! 🙂

      3 days?? Wow! That’s FAST! Lol, our trip took us 3 weeks, and easily could have taken much, much longer. But, traveling with a stranger in a van… haha, I can understand wanting to hurry! 😉

      So glad you’re enjoying our road trip coverage! I’ve still got quite a few posts on the way, so stay tuned!

    Fantastic photos! I wish we had made it to the Arches last year – we definitely have to go! We’ll make sure not to visit in August though, the heat must’ve been unbearable.

      Thanks, guys! I wish we had made it to more of the parks in Utah… Next time!

      And yeah, the heat was pretty intense. I would definitely suggest a visit in a cooler month if you want to do any hiking!

    If I may share a link to an article in Zimbio about Moab’s Parks, your readers would be alerted to 2012 Motorcoach Tours that tackle various routes and parks including Arches and Canyonlands National Park of Moab. Not everyone would be as adventureous as you two. Fabulous story telling! Even better story pictures.
    Motorcoach Tours into the Four Corners

    Gorgeous pictures. I’m no photographer myself, so maybe I can’t truly appreciate what goes into capturing these sites. However, I can appreciate how much these pics make me want to visit that park. Really, stunning. Thanks for sharing you wonderful photos.

      Thanks so much, Jason! A place like Arches really does most of the work on its own when it comes to taking pretty photos, though. 😉

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