Saturday, August 15, 2015

Arches National Park, Utah

On Friday we moved our home to Moab, Utah.  We are now in dessert country, and it is hot.  We learned how hot when we did some hiking this morning around Arches National Park.  There are signs all around the park to remember to always carry water.  The elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level, plus temperatures hovering around 100 degrees can make one thirsty very fast  which we found out. 
As you can see in the picture above, not much shade is available either, so John and I just opted to take the easier, short trails to see some of the rock formations in the park.  Those rock formations include arches, spires, balanced rock and sandstone fins. They were once solid layers of sandstone, but stresses within those rocks caused them to crack, water and ice continued the process of erosion.  The first trail we took was into the Devil's Garden.  Here we saw the Pine Tree Arch.
Also on this trail is Landscape arch, which has an interesting story.  In 1991 hikers near this arch heard a loud crash and popping sound.  Some rock debris tumbled down from this slender arch which has a 306-foot-long span ( it is the longest arch in the park, the smallest has a 3 foot opening).  That rock was followed by a large slab which peeled away from the arch's right side.  When the dust settled 180 tons of fresh rock debris lay scattered under the arch.  Scientists think that the heavy rain which fell 10 days before may have filled the pore spaces of the sandstone arch, adding more weight than it could handle. 
Walking to Sand Dune Arch was a bit easier than the earlier trails, and big rock monoliths along the way provided some shade.
The arch is not actually broken, it just has a crack in it.  Hard to believe, but there are 2000 cataloged arches in the park!  Some of them, and other rock formations, are visible from the road.  By late morning it was just too hot to be out, we finished up by doing a driving tour of the park.  Pictured below is Balance Rock.

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