Landscape Arch, Arches National Park – 10/19/16

Early morning visit for the last of the short hikes (1.6 miles round trip) in Arches National Park. Pink sky, red rocks.

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the 3 Gossips on the left

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A Window and Turret Arch

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Balanced Rock

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The route to Landscape Arch takes you to the end of the paved road in Arches, by Devils Garden Campground.

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what planet is this again?

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Early morning gives you great light and solitude – hardly any cars at the trailhead. It’s an easy flat trail, mostly red sandstone fine sand.

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The trail to Landscape Arch has a short cut-off to Tunnel and Pine Tree arches. Then fork right for the Tunnel, left for Pine Tree.

Tunnel Arch is an opening through thick sandstone, deeper than most arches we’ve seen:

And a bunny:

I love the soft red sand of the trail. Pine Tree arch has a big old pine tree growing behind it, so the arch forms a nice frame.

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The arch is much bigger than it looks in the photos:

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The pine tree

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Now on to Landscape.

The views of Landscape Arch as you approach it are deceiving. The arch is camouflaged against walls of the same color – kind of like the “Leap of Faith” bridge Indiana Jones had to take to reach the Knight Templar in The Last Crusade – until you get closer and closer and can view the arch against blue sky:

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Then the view opens up on the 306′ long span, the longest in the Park, and the 5th longest arch in the world:

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See where the arch seems much narrower right of center? In 1991, a 60′ slab peeled away and crashed near hikers scrambling to get away, leaving 180 tons of rock debris below. The trail under the arch has been closed for safety ever since.

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Just past Landscape are views of Partition Arch. Trails from Landscape lead to more arches including the intriguing Dark Angel, but that would have added another 4+ miles to our 1.6 mile round-trip hike, so we “settled” for this view of that Partition:

And these views as we finish this trail, and leave Arches:

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Can’t stress enough how great it is to hit the trails early in the morning – you get fantastic light and very few other hikers. The near solitude promotes a richly mindful experience with few distractions.  And then as you hike back, the crowds begin to arrive, and you get the fun of helping to direct them and watch their little kids playing in the red sand.

Thank you, Arches National Park!

 

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