A place for dreamers.
|Nothing Like It|
Arches National Park. July 31, 2015: Geologists say Arches lies over a gigantic bed of salt left by an ocean that flowed in some 300-million years ago, eventually evaporating. In the ensuing years debris from wind, flood and other transient oceans compressed into a rock mantle over the salt. The weight of the rock caused the salt bed to shift..pushing the rock up into domes that inevitably collapsed. Faults deep in the Earth added to the process, causing cracks in the rocks that, with time, wind and other natural forces, led to the arches we go out to see today.
The park road winds from the entrance near Moab, Utah through an area encompassing nearly 120 square miles of mountain desert. It runs past massive red sandstone structures, many larger than city buildings. There are over 2,000 natural arches in them, some as small as 3 feet in diameter. The largest, Landscape Arch, measures 306 feet from base to base. Most of the largest are accessible from the two lane roadway.
The surrounding structures come in all sizes and shapes. Probably the most easily recognized is "The Balanced Rock."
I call this one "The Sphinx":
So what would YOU call it?
Notice the band of different colored stone running horizontally through the structure..caused by layering as the sandstone built up. You see this throughout the park.
If you come here, remember it's high desert, around 5,000 feet above sea level. In the summertime, it's hot. Temperatures during our visit were in the 90s and often run up from there. You don't go out without water--the Park Service will warn you repeatedly to drink plenty, and even furnishes a place at the Visitor's Center to refill your bottles. Dehydration is your enemy.
There are rest rooms at some of the overlooks, but no other accommodations in the park unless you're camping. You have to reserve a spot for that--and you should inquire about it months in advance.
But this is something you really ought to see. As the song says, "rise and look about you."
July 28, 2015: We left Ft. Collins, CO early in the morning, heading up Rt. 34 to Estes Park..gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Once inside the park, the road switchbacks from meadows at 7,000 feet to Alpine Tundra at 12,000..breathtaking miles weaving among tremendous peaks up to what seems like the top of the world, then spiraling down the other side of the range. Majestic. Impossible to fully comprehend.
We were ready, we thought. Our cameras were ready..including our cell phones.
But a word of caution: we went through the park..to the peak and back down..in a single day. It's not for everybody. The altitude can really get you if you're not already acclimated. Even though we had been in the region several days..at about the five to seven thousand foot level..the altitude at the visitor's center, just under 12,000 feet above sea level, left us a bit light headed and winded. That eased off as we descended the other side, but we were very tired at the end of the day. Try to give your body some adjustment time..and drink plenty of water before going up there and while you're there. Just sayin'.