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Trip 5, Park 5: Arches National Park

Arches National Park has the world's greatest concentration of rock arches (more than 2,000) and is very popular. Both days we were in Moab, the park temporarily restricted access well before noon until congestion lessened, encouraging visitors to come back in 3 to 5 hours. As a result, the park is beginning a timed entry reservation pilot between April 3 and October 3, 2022. You can reserve a timed entry ticket up to three months prior to visiting and limited tickets will be available for day-before purchase. Our visit was prior to the reservation system being in place and we were concerned about not being able to enter the park, so we arrived before 6:30 am and had no difficulty finding parking during the morning.

We wanted to get to the back of the park to the Devils Garden trail but made a quick stop on the way, as the sun was rising, to hike to Skyline Arch, a short, out-and-back hike.

We had no trouble finding parking in the early morning at the Devils Garden trailhead. While other hikers were there, the trail was not crowded and we often had the trail to ourselves. The trail was relatively easy to Landscape Arch, with only a few hills; we chose to not continue on the more difficult trail to the Double O Arch, although we could see it in the distance. Landscape Arch was impressive; it is one of the world's longest stone spans, but is only about 11 feet thick at its center. We also took side trails to Pine Tree Arch (bottom left above) and Tunnel Arch (bottom right above). As we returned to the Devils Garden trailhead, there were definitely a lot more hikers heading out.

Our next stop was the Windows Section of the park. The road there passes a collection of spires and formations, including Balanced Rock. From the Windows parking lot, we made the easy walk to the impressive Double Arch, formed by two massive arches. We then explored the Windows side, with the North and South Windows and the Turret Arch. These were all relatively short and easy hikes.

The most famous arch is the park is Delicate Arch and was our next stop. Unfortunately, the parking lot at the trailhead was full and a ranger was directing traffic away, so we ended up going to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint trail. While we could not hike to the arch from there, we had a good view and avoided the steep and strenuous hike to the arch. (We were okay with that.)

After driving around various viewpoints, our final stop was the Park Avenue Overlook (above right). While we initially planned to hike the trail here, it was very windy through that area, so we opted instead to head for a late lunch at the Moab Brewery (and the pub part of this trip). Unless you are doing a lot of long hikes, one day should be long enough to see the main areas of the park and plenty of arches.

It should be noted that Arches is also an International Dark Skies Park and we finally had a cloudless night sky with a later moonrise. This picture was taken with a mere cell phone camera and does not capture nearly the amount of stars we saw in the dark sky. It is worth spending time at night here to do some stargazing.

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