Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ring Arch Trail

The Ring Arch is visible from the main Arches National Park Road, with binoculars, from the pull over area on the north side of the Courthouse Wash bridge. The arch is to the west and slightly south about 1.5 miles away.The trail going that way is in the sandy Courthouse Wash. Down in the wash the banks are deep and steep and the view to where you are headed is obscured.

A side wash comes in from the left after about a mile and the trail to Ring Arch goes that way, but there isn't a sign so you have to watch for it. The trail up Court House Wash continues past the unmarked Ring Arch turnoff.
It is possible to climb up and get under the arch but look carefully for the right spot to climb. I only saw one feasible place to scramble up.

Looking up at the blue sky angle, it looks like during heavy rain this arch would get a spectacular flow of water funneled through it.

The view from the arch back toward the main road shows some of the panorama that is Arches. I spent about 1:45 on this 3 mile round trip. It was somewhat exhausting hiking due to all the sand.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Tree Arch Trail

Christmas Tree Arch is located in the Windows Section of Arches National Park in southeast Utah. It is vaguely visible along the short trail to Double Arch to the right, past the formation that looks like the Sphinx. The Park has a sign at that point telling visitors that there isn't a trail going over to it from Double Arch.

From the west side of the North and South Windows parking area there is a route along a small wash and between some rock fins that leads to the back side of Christmas Tree Arch.

From the Windows Primitive trail you can see between these fins. The path I walked is connected to the Windows Primitive Trail by an obscure trail junction. Going this way I didn't see any "This is not a trail signs."
There is a little climbing but it's not too hard to get between the fins, and then get up under the arch and look through back toward the Double Arch area. From there, the Sphinx like formation is visible and there is a minor arch up to the right looking through the opening.

Looking the other way from Christmas Tree Arch, a drainage allows the hike to continue and the view to the north is toward the Delicate Arch area. There is another arch, Ribbon Arch, down the drainage and to the left around the corner.
I thought that I scanned carefully but somehow missed Ribbon Arch, unless it is here and I'm not seeing it. I see some alcoves and almost arches, but I didn't go up closer. Ribbon Arch is supposed to be a thin strip near the top of the cliffs. I hiked in this area for about 1:30 hours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jug Handle Arch and Desert Big Horn Sheep

Jug Handle Arch is an easy to view large arch located 13 miles west along Potash Road, Highway 279, near Arches National Park in southeast Utah. It is visible from the road, positioned up in the sandstone cliffs overlooking the Colorado River.

There is a parking area just to the west of the arch and it is a short walk along the road or the railroad tracks to view the formation from either side. At the same level as the base of the arch and about 100 feet to the left there is a petroglyph panel. It is hard to spot from a distance. There is a rough trail going up that doesn’t look like it gets used very often.

It is possible to find an angle where both Jug Handle Arch and the petroglyph panel are in the same picture. Many petroglyph panels have spirals, this one appears to have three sets of concentric circles that look like targets and have drawn some shots. There is also a Moab Man like image.

While hiking up closer for pictures I had the good luck of startling a group of Desert Big Horn Sheep who spotted me with their keen eyesight and dashed up the cliff side and under the arch for safety.

From the safety of the cliffs they looked down on me with what appeared to be calm curiosity. There were at least six in the group, I think, one with large full ram horns, three females with smaller horns and two yearlings.
The Desert Bighorn Sheep are adapted to go longer periods without water, though this group has easy access to the Colorado River. They have unique padded hooves that aid them in bounding along these cliffs with ease. These sheep are able to lose of to 30 per cent of their body weight from dehydration and recover easily when they finally drink.

This ability gives them an advantage in evading their predators who can't take the heat. They are able to obtain sufficient water from the grasses and other vegetation that they eat. They particularly like Prickly Pear Cactus and other succulents.

In moving away from the arch, up the canyon, it appeared that the ram and one ewe were leading and a group of two ewes and the two yearlings were following, staying close together. The normal breeding season is July to December though breeding can vary due to environmental conditions. Lambs are usually born in late winter after six months gestation. This group was sighted on November 18, 2008.

The 1993 population estimate for Utah was 2200 to 2250 individuals with the trends increasing due to conservation efforts. Arizona, Nevada, and California have the highest populations and the total in the U.S. was estimated at about 19,000.

532497_120 x 90 Starting Salary $42k. Group 1

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Morning Glory Bridge in Negro Bill Canyon

The Negro Bill Trail to Morning Glory Bridge is about a 4 mile round trip to one of the largest natural rock spans in the world. The trail head is about 3 miles east of Moab along Highway 128 in southeast Utah. This area is near the south end of Arches National Park.

The well marked trail follows along a year round clear stream and crosses it several times. The crossings usually have stepping stones and the water is shallow in fall. The walls of the canyon are very high and steep and the canyon bottom is lush with riparian vegetation.

The Morning Glory Bridge is at the end of the second side canyon to the right. The main canyon continues for several more miles. There is a little bit of elevation change upwards in the last section of the hike. Though the trail is well marked, keep an eye open for the route toward the bridge.

The interpretive information at the trail head says that the span of Morning Glory Bridge is 243 feet, making it the sixth largest in the United States.

There isn't much of a gap between the span and the back wall, but it is easy to get below and see blue sky in between.
There were a lot of fins and alcoves along the route, but I didn't spot any other arches or any signs of Indian Ruins. This trail has a lot of poison ivy growing in the moist areas near the stream. Negro Bill was William Granstaff, an early settler who arrived in 1877.

I took about 2:00 hours to make the about 4 mile round trip. There were at least 20 other hikers on this trail on a late October day.

Courthouse Wash Rock Art

At the south end of the Court House Wash Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah there is a Rock Art Panel that overlooks the junction of the wash with the Colorado River. There is a side trail climbing up to view the panel.
  The south end of the Court House Wash Trail can be accessed with out actually entering the Park. The Courthouse Wash Trail is the only true canyon habitat trail in Arches Park and is about 6 miles long.

There is a parking area about two miles south of the main entrance along Highway 191. The Rock Art Panel faces the highway.

The trail up to the Rock Art is about 0.5 miles and is marked by rock cairns but there is not a sign pointing it out, so you have to know you are looking for it. There is an interpretive sign below the panel that is visible before the panel is.

There is something of a jarring contrast in viewing ancient works of art, then turning to overlook a busy highway and the tourist and industrial activity of Moab.

The interpretive sign indicates that the long tapered figures are the work of archaic Indians and is known as the Barrier style. The Barrier style is the oldest style in the region and is associated with the Archaic Culture. The work may be 1500 to 4000 years old. Unfortunately, the panel was vandalized in 1980 and much of the color has been destroyed.

On the rock slabs that are in front of the pictographs, there are some petroglyphs appearing to be mostly of sheep. These are thought to be the work of the historic Utes. Sites that are near geographic crossroads, such as this stream junction are often used for Rock Art.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Updraft Arch

Updraft Arch is about 1.0 miles east of Moab along Highway 128, near Arches National Park in southeast Utah. The arch overlooks the Colorado River from high sandstone cliffs on the south side of the highway. The Goose Island information and interpretive site provides easy parking and a route for easy viewing.

There are numerous campgrounds and river access points along this section of the Colorado River.
From the east side of the information pullout, a gravel road descends down to a paved bike trail. There are good views of the Colorado River and the spectacular cliffs.

To see the arch hike back to the west along the bike trail for a few hundred yards, looking at the cliffs to the south.

Updraft Arch appears to be a pothole type of arch. Looking at the opening to the right of the arch , the two formations look like a pair of droopy eyes. It may be possible to view the top of Updraft Arch from the Moab Slickrock bike trail.

There isn't a sign pointing out Updraft Arch in the information pullout or along the bike trail. The interpretive information points out that this area is good for watchable wildlife.

The water and lush vegetation provide habitat for numerous birds and mammals such as beaver and otters. The high cliffs and talus slopes attract desert Bighorn Sheep and Peregrine Falcons.

Looking Glass Arch

Looking Glass Rock is a large arch about 2.0 miles west off of Highway 191, south of Moab in southeast Utah. The road is well marked as Looking Glass Road and is a little north of the large Wilson Arch that is visible along the highway.

There is a dirt road that leads right to the base of Looking Glass Rock, or you can stop at the junction and hike a little bit. There is a small BLM sign pointing out the formation. Moving to the right and back along a fence, it looks like this is a double arch.

The climb up closer on the sandstone is fairly easy, but to get under the arch looked steep with a dangerous drop off.
There is another dirt road that allows easy access around to the other side of Looking Glass Rock. From this opposite angle the formation is more hollowed out and I thought resembled an elephant's head.

Looking Glass Arch is one of three arches that offer short hikes along this section of Highway 191. The others are the obvious Wilson Arch and the less noticed Lopez Arch.
528614_Russell Outdoor Logo 125x125

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lopez Arch Trail

Lopez Arch is one of 50 large arches that are south of Moab in southeast Utah and outside of Arches National Park. It is visible from Highway 191 at mile post 98, about 2.5 miles south of the more visible Wilson Arch.There is a large pull over place on the east side of Highway 191 but there is no sign calling attention to Lopez Arch. It is in a fin about 0.25 miles away but may be hard to see from the highway depending on the light.
There is a path leading to the fence and an eroded spot where you can crouch down and slip under. There isn't an official trail but there are some hiker made paths that lead down to a wash. Along the bank of the wash, without crossing it is possible to see blue sky through the opening.

It isn't hard to cross the wash and scramble up the sandstone on the other side to get a closer look. I only went far enough to get a good view and didn't try to get under the opening. There are also good views from this area back to the south toward the Blue Mountains.

This area is part of the Cameo Cliffs BLM area. There is an extensive system of ATV Trails in the area. Good maps are available at the staging area. Look for the highway sign for Steen Road and ATV trailhead.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Double Arch Trail

The Double Arches Trail is a 0.5 mile route in the Windows Section of Arches National Park in southeast Utah leading to one of the more spectacular Arches in the park.

Besides the large Double Arch there are several minor arches to keep an eye out for. There are more than 2000 arches within the park. From the start of the trail, the formations to the left are the Parade of Elephants. Two minor arches are visible. The larger one could be imagined as an eye for one of the elephants.
Looking back to the left, I thought this view, toward the Parade of Elephants, looked like a skull with two flaming eyes. The eye to the left is an arch but to the right is just a notch. There is another minor arch to the left of the left eye but it is hard to see from this point as there is rock behind it. A little further forward and blue sky is visible through it.

Looking to the right, it looks like there is a large arch, Christmas Tree Arch, there. There is also a Sphinx like formation. The Park is very militant about staying on the trail in the highly visited areas, and there is no trail from the Double Arch going over there to look closer.

Closer to the Double Arch and looking up to the left there is a minor arch. The park brochure says that the opening has to be about 3 feet to qualify for the official catalog.

Close up to the massive Double Arch. The major span has a horizontal gap that also appears to be a minor arch, though this angle doesn't show it.

It is possible to continue under the Double Arch and climb up on the rocks behind. The view through the smaller of the Double Arches is toward the approaching road and overlooks the Cove of Caves area. There is an arch in the Cove of Caves but it is hard to pick out from the viewpoint.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Garden of Eden and Serpentine Arch

The Garden of Eden is an overlook area in the vicinity of Balanced Rock and is on the road to the Windows Section of Arches National Park in southeast Utah. There is no official trail here but there is room to wander in the garden and hunt for some of the 2000 arches.

From the parking area the view to the east is a jumble of the carved formations that are among the highlights of this sandstone area.

Moving a little east and north into the garden, one fairly large arch comes into view. This is Serpentine Arch, the name in keeping with the Garden of Eden theme. Pick your own route over the exposed sandstone. There doesn't seem to be any of the slow growing dark biotic soil in this area that they worry about.

A few steps further and looking all around, there is another small opening. It doesn't look like much but probably meets the three foot opening size to qualify as an arch.

A little further and I saw these two small eyes, glancing at me. These might be too small. I only went about a quarter mile along the north side of the Garden and found several minor arches. I can see how there can be thousands, but it would take a lot of wandering around to find them.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Windows Primitive Trail

The Windows Primitive Trail is a short loop that goes around the Windows formations in Arches National Park in southeast Utah. I followed the trail in a counter clockwise direction.

The Windows Section is one of the most popular stops in the park, with many large arches in one place. The first part of the trail goes behind the South Window. The Primitive Trail is not lined with easy steps like the main Windows Trail.

Continuing around there are views of both the North and South Windows, "The Spectacles" from behind. This view is lacking the large nose like formation that you see from the other side.

There are more than 2000 arches inside the park, a surprising number at first, but they are counting a lot of small ones. Keeping an eye out there appears to be a very small one high above as the trail winds back to the front of the Windows.

The Parade of Elephants formation near Double Arch comes into view toward the end of the trail and gives a clear view of the medium sized arch there.

To the left of the two main Windows there is an arch that is hard to see as there is a rock wall behind it, but sunlight from above gives it away. This arch lines up with "The Spectacles" and looks like a third eye, but a blind one. The official name for the third eye is Biceps Arch.