Arches National Park, Moab
Edward Abbey tells you to stay away, but his descriptions of Arches and the surrounding area in the book Desert Solitaire are so compelling that it was impossible for us to comply. The landscapes at Arches are breathtaking, but it is a fairly popular park and some areas can get pretty crowded. The best time to enter the park for a day of hiking is before dawn.
Like humans see a mountain and want to climb it so people see arches and want to walk beneath them. Why? I know not, but I am numbered among them. The North Window was the first arch I ever walked under. It's not something that's all that common on Australia but at Arches National Park you get to choose from over 2,000.
When they say "arches", they mean "arches". Arches are an unusual formation in the world of geology but here they have a list of all the arches.
Now, an arch isn't called an arch unless it's over a metre round. Bearing that in mind there are over 2,000 in this park alone!
Naturally enough, they are spread over a large area and some are much more accessible than others. In fact, some require overnight treks to view.
However, some places have them in abundance and the place where you view the North and South Window has several within a kilometre radius with the Cove of Arches being the most prolific.
It's located at the end of a dead end road that is one of the most popular destinations in Arches National Park.
One should really take the time to go see Arches National Park. It's located just outside Moab and is easy to get to. It's car friendly and one can drive a good ways into it. There are also plenty of places to park and get out and hike to see some of the sights. Arches also has many campsites for those who wish to camp. Just an amazing array of rock formations you won't see anywhere else.
Gemini Bridges trail is a rocky, dirt, bouncy, slickrock, sandy 4 wheel drive road. There are signs for "Gemini Bridges" on US-191 north of Arches National Park entrance.
You will be treated with beautiful drive on BLM land just outside Canyonlands National Park-Island in the Sky district. You will have opportunity to view Arches and Natural Bridges - Gemini Bridge. The trail is rated easy or moderate - although we opted to driving a rental Jeep Wrangler from Moab Adventure Center instead of our own Jeep Grand Cherokee - the rental Jeep Wrangler had greater ground clearance.
Follow BLM trail signs on fencepost-like material. You will need a detailed trail map/description.
Natural stone arches and fantastic rock formations, sculpted as if by an artist's hand, are the defining features of this park, and they exist in remarkable numbers and variety. Just as soon as you've seen the most beautiful, most colorful, most gigantic stone arch you can imagine, walk around the next bend and there's another-bigger, better, and more brilliant than the last. It would take forever to see them all, with more than 1,700 officially listed and more being discovered or "born" every day.
Just down the road from Canyonlands National Park, Arches is much more visitor-friendly, with relatively short, well-maintained trails leading to most of the park's major attractions. It's also a place to let your imagination run wild.
Exploring the park is a great family adventure. The arches seem more accessible and less forbidding than the spires and pinnacles at Canyonlands and other southern Utah parks. Some think of arches as bridges, but to geologists there's a big difference. Bridges are formed when a river slowly bores through solid rock, while the often bizarre and beautiful contours of arches result from the erosive force of rain and snow, freezing and thawing, dissolving the "glue" that holds sand grains together and chips away at the stone, until gravity finally pulls a chunk off.
Spend a day or a week here, exploring the terrain, watching the rainbow of colors deepen and explode with the long rays of the setting sun, or the moonlight glistening on tall sandstone cliffs. Watch for mule deer, cottontail rabbits, and the bright green collared lizard as they go about the difficult task of desert living. And let your own imagination run wild among the Three Gossips, the Spectacles, the Eye of the Whale, the Penguins, the Tower of Babel, and the thousands of other statues, towers, arches, and bridges that await your discovery in this magical playground.
Visit/Hike Arches National Park
Probably one of the most incredible rock formations in the world. Many formations can be seen from your car, most require an easy short hike and a few require a longer more difficult hike. Great for people of all ages. Just make sure your car has air conditioning. Was the location of the young Indy scene at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
One of the longest arches the Landscape Arch. As you can see some parts of this arche are already very thin!
Hard to believe that all these plants are still so green on this sandy ground and with this dry and very hot climate