November 12, 2019
With more than 2000 natural sandstone arches located within, Arches National Park has the highest concentration of these features in the world. Although it had been named a National Monument in 1929, it was on November 12, 1971, when Arches National Park was created.
Situated in eastern Utah, it’s remote location and rugged terrain make getting there a challenge. The Utah park, however, has become a magnet for hikers, climbers, and nature lovers, attracting some 1.6 million visitors in 2018.
According to the Infallible Wikipedia:
“The Arches area was first brought to the attention of the National Park Service by Frank A. Wadleigh, passenger traffic manager of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Wadleigh, accompanied by railroad photographer George L. Beam, visited the area in September 1923 at the invitation of Alexander Ringhoffer, a Hungarian-born prospector living in Salt Valley. Ringhoffer had written to the railroad in an effort to interest them in the tourist potential of a scenic area he had discovered the previous year with his two sons and a son-in-law, which he called the Devils Garden (known today as the Klondike Bluffs). Wadleigh was impressed by what Ringhoffer showed him, and suggested to Park Service director Stephen T. Mather that the area be made a national monument.”
Over the years, like so many of our nation’s National Parks, Arches has been loved to the point of fragile features being in danger of destruction. Consequently, there are now bans within the park which make climbing some of the more famous arches illegal.
The hubby and I have had the privilege of visiting Arches twice. The first time was in the summer of 1984. We arrived on a hot July day which was not conducive to outdoor activities. Being young and in decent shape, however, we did exit the car and hiked in the Windows region of the park.
Cold and rainy Thursday October 11, 2018 in Arches NP
The second trip was in October of 2018 along with several hundred of those 1,599,998 other visitors on a rainy – which is rare since the park gets less than 10 inches of precipitation a year – weekday. What struck me about the differences between those two visits is that the park had been ‘discovered’ in the intervening years. On the first trip we saw maybe a half dozen other cars and some 12 tourists. In 2018, despite the inclement weather and a number of flooded roads, the place was crawling with people. Finding a place to park the car at some of the stops was a challenge at times.
Our method of touring, 24 years later, has changed. In eighty four, I would cram as many things into our travels as possible, never allowing nearly enough time to pause and marvel at nature’s grandeur. A year ago, our inclinations to be mountain goats now subdued, getting out and hiking for a mile or two wasn’t happening. Instead, rather than the slap and dash tourists of yesteryear, we stopped frequently and walked short paths to where we could stand and simply appreciate the amazing features, listen for birds and insects, and find joy in the moment.
The term ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ may be cliche, but the idea behind it is solid. Too often we rush to the airport, wait in lines to be crammed into a plane, then fly to a destination where the modern amenities make our lives easy. There’s nothing easy about visiting Arches or many of Utah’s spectacular landscapes… but it is so very worth the trip.