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.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Turret Arch Trail

The Turret Arch Trail is a side loop of the Windows Loop Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah. The Windows Section is a popular stop and is a place with wide views of a number of large arches in a compact area.

The short trail offers easy steps up to the large opening with the turret like formation to the left. As this is a side trail there may be a tendency to view the arch from a distance and go to the North and South Windows, but there are some good views of the surrounding area in addition to the arch itself.

The Turret Arch appears to also be a double arch with a smaller opening to the left. There is a short primitive trail that allows you to get up under the span of the large arch. From the Turret Arch the North and South Window appear as "The Spectacles" with a large nose formation in between.

The back side of Turret Arch is accessible and from here you can view The Spectacles framed through the Turret Arch.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Corona Arch Trail

The Corona Arch Trail is a 3.0 mile round trip that passes within sight of three arches including the spectacular Corona Arch. This trail starts about 9 miles west along Potash Road which is near the entrance to Arches National Park, north of Moab, in southeast Utah.

The first part of the trail climbs giving a view of the Colorado River as it snakes toward Canyonlands National Park. There is a train track, built in 1964, from the potash mining site that crosses the trail and is visible again toward the end of the trail.

As the 440 feet of elevation gain continues, Pinto Arch is visible across the canyon. It is not easy to see as there is a rock background through the arch. There are also alcoves, and perhaps future arches forming high along the cliffs.

There are three climbing aids along the trail. This one has some foot holds carved into the rock besides the cable to grab on to. There is also a small ladder further on.

The spectacular Corona Arch comes into view. The trail head information says that the opening is 140 feet long by 105 feet high. It also mentions that Corona Arch is also sometimes called Little Rainbow Bridge.

Just to the left of Corona Arch is Bowtie Arch, which appears to be a pothole type of arch, or one that eroded from the top down.

It is possible to pass under the span and cross to the other side. I walked this trail in late August 2008 in the morning with the temperature about 85 F. It was warm but there was some breeze and it wasn't too bad.
It took me 1:20 hours to make the round trip. There were only two others hiking at the time I did.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Potash Road Petroglyphs

Potash Road is a scenic byway that runs along the north side of the Colorado River just west of the entrance to Arches National Park in southeast Utah. There are several campgrounds and trail heads along the way and one of the attractions is a large set of petroglyph panels or Indian Writing as the sign says.

This doesn't appear to have been an area where there is room for any dwellings or room for farming, yet there is a lot of rock art. The setting is spectacular with massive sandstone cliffs right against the road and the Colorado River only a few feet away. The Colorado River here is just upstream of where it enters Canyonlands National Park.

It is thought that these drawing were done by the Northern San Rafael Fremont Culture which flourished in this area from 600 AD to 1300 AD. These drawings are mostly high above the roadway and have a mix of animals, human figures, and geometric designs.

There are quite a few panels to see in one place and the figures seem larger in scale than others in the region. Some of the human figures appear to have animal heads, or they are wearing horns.

There is only a narrow strip of land between the sandstone cliffs and the Colorado River. On the opposite bank are some of the rough carved sandstone formations that are typical in this area.

Wilson Arch Trail

Wilson Arch is one of about 50 large arches south of Moab and outside of Arches National Park in southeast Utah. It is probably the easiest to find, being along Highway 191 about 25 miles south of Moab.

This large span was named for a local pioneer Joe Wilson. There is a short trail that climbs up to the span. This arch is in the widespread Entrada Sandstone layer.

These arches are formed as ice water seeps into cracks and freezes, breaking loose particles that are cleaned out by winds. Fins form, which are attacked by wind and water until the cementing material breaks down and chunks of rock break free.

The backside of Wilson Arch slopes down steeply to the desert floor. Visitors are usually drawn up and want to stand under the span but these are often precarious spots. The beauty of this arch has attracted some real estate development down below.