Friday, March 6, 2009

Tower Arch Trail

The Tower Arch Trail is a 3.4 mile out and back route to the large Tower Arch in the Klondike Bluffs area of Arches National Park in southeast Utah.

The Trail Head is along the Salt Valley gravel road that connects with the main park road near the Sand Dune Arch Trail in the north end of the park.

The trail climbs away from the trail head and overlooks the Salt Valley. It then descends toward a drainage with towering cliffs on both sides and scattered Pinon Pines and Utah Juniper trees on the canyon floor. Along the cliff sides there are several small arches to watch for, some of the 2000 that are in Arches Park.

Climbing away from the drainage the route passes through an area of loose sand. I thought the formation to the south resembled football goal posts, but it is named the Marching Men. There are numerous pinnacles and fins along this scenic trail.

Coming down the final fin before Tower Arch, there is a small arch to the right. This might be a double arch, but I didn't see any light shining through the back arch. This arch is more noticeable on the return hike and is easy to get under for the blue sky angle. I think this is called Parallel Arch-Inner and Outer.

The large Tower Arch has a span of 92 feet, height of 43 feet, and is 50 feet thick.

Just before arriving at Tower Arch, there is a trail junction with the route leading from the 4WD road that leads from the Balanced Rock area. The 4WD road provides an alternate but longer route to return to the trail head. Using this loop route the total hike is 6.1 miles. I spent 1:30 hours on the 3.4 miles that I hiked.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Moonflower Canyon Petroglyphs

The Moonflower Canyon Petroglyph site is an easy to visit small site on Kane Creek Road about 2.3 miles west of the 500 West junction in Moab in southeast Utah.

Kane Creek Road runs along the south side of the Colorado River and leads to several 4WD trails in a very rocky and scenic area.

It is one of about seven publicized and easy to find Rock Art sites in the Moab area. There are many more rock art sites that are not publicized. There is a campground at the same site. The site is marred by recent graffiti but features Mountain Sheep and Deer figures and one Barrier style elongated humanoid figure.
Another Moab area site that has the interesting Barrier style is the Courthouse Wash site just south of the entrance to Arches National Park
Just to the left of the main petroglyph panel is a crack in the rock with logs arranged to aid climbing. This is explained as a technique used in ancient times to aid access to higher areas.

There is another smaller petroglyph site about 1.2 miles further west along Kane Creek Road that is easily missed traveling west but noticeable when returning east.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Eye of the Whale Arch Trail

The Eye of the Whale Arch Trail is located along the 4WD road that runs from the Balanced Rock Trail area north toward Klondike Bluffs. A gravel road starts directly across from the Balanced Rock Trail in Arches National Park in southeast Utah and leads to a picnic area, then at 0.8 miles, to a junction with the 4WD road to Willow Springs.

 I started my hike at the junction of the 4WD roads and followed for about 1.9 miles to the trail head, then another 0.25 miles to the arch. The road provides easy walking and the terrain seems to be dominated by Mormon Tea, another small shrub that I think is Blackbrush with a few scattered Utah Junipers and patches of Prickly Pear cactus.The Eye of the Whale Arch has a span of 37 feet, is 12 feet high, and 25 feet thick. Standing under the arch there is a slope going down the back side that looked easy enough to slide down, but might be tricky to climb back up.
Checking around the south side of the formation, there is a wash that leads to the back side. The Eye is more impressive from the back side and I thought looked more like the eye of a gator than a whale.
I didn't attempt to climb up the steep ramp from the back side. It took me about 50 minutes to arrive at the arch, 20 minutes to look around and 50 minutes back for a total of about 2:00 hours for about 4.4 miles of hiking.

Only 15 minutes of hiking pas the Eye of the Whale is the large Leaping Arch. There isn't a marked trail or a sign pointing it out, but it is visible from the Klondike Bluffs 4WD road. A 7 mile loop hike is possible by following the drainage beyond the sandstone fins southwest to the Willow Springs Road and then returning to the junction

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