August 14, 2015 Arches National Park, Utah

We left Salt Lake City and headed to Moab, Utah.  We originally planned on staying in Salina, Utah overnight because of the long distance to Moab.  But when we stopped for lunch Bill felt we were making good time and decided he would like to continue the rest of the way to Moab.  We passed through some interesting scenery along the way.

We arrived in Moab with temperatures in the upper 90’s to 105 everyday.  We had looked at the weather forecast and were worried about the heat spell for the next week.  We knew from looking at the campground online that there was no shade.  With all that in mind we reduced our reservation from 7 to 4 days when we arrived.  Just as expected we were directed to a nice site which had no shade.  Even with two rooftop air conditioners it is impossible to keep up with the heat.

IMG_1008Moab, population 5,046, overlooks the Colorado River and is located in a valley surrounded by red cliffs and the La Sal Mountains.  It was a visited by Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch as well as author Zane Grey who used the town and surrounding area as the locale for many of his western novels.  There is a brochure devoted just to all the sites in Utah used in films starting in 1939 with “Stagecoach” starring John Wayne followed by “Wagon Master” in 1949 and “Rio Grande” in 1950 starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.  In the Moab/Arches National Park area we have movies such as “The Hulk”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Lone Ranger” (2013), “Star Trek” (2009), “Thelma and Louise”, “Transformers Age of Extinction”, “Mission Impossible 3” and many more!

In the 1950’s Moab was changed from a quiet agricultural town into a bustling mining and prospecting area with the discovery of uranium.  Today tourism is the main industry.

IMG_1007We had two reasons for coming to Moab.  One was to see Arches National Park and the other was to visit Canyonlands National Park.  We got up early the next morning hoping to beat the heat.  Our destination this day was Arches National Park located three miles from our campground.  We usually stop by the Visitors Center first but we were anxious to get started on our outdoor activities before it got too hot.  When we were in Hawaii we purchased several reasonably priced smartphone audio tours of each island from “Gypsy Guide”.  We felt they did an excellent job and it was like having a personal tour guide in the car.  So we were thrilled to discover Gypsy Guide had tours for both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  Bill hooked it up to the car’s Bluetooth so it could be played with the radio. The tour automatically advances based on your GPS location.IMG_0960


Three Gossips


Sheep Rock

Arches National Park contains the largest number of natural stone arches in the country with over 2,000.  The park also has beautiful red rock canyons, spires and balanced rocks.  Water and ice, extreme temperatures and underground salt movement over 100 million years are responsible for the beautiful sculptured sandstone rock.  The arches were formed by the weathering of openings in the vertical slabs of sandstone.  Park Rangers consider any opening extending at least three feet in any one direction to be an arch.

IMG_0970Our Gypsy Guide gave us a running commentary on the geology and history of the area as we drove the 36 mile round trip scenic road through the park.  We stopped at many overlooks and hiked to Balanced Rock and several arches, including Delicate Arch.  At Delicate Arch we had a choice of three hikes to see this famous arch.  There was a really short easy walk with a far away view, a moderate hike up a rather steep path over rock steps built into the pathway with a somewhat closer view, and a three mile strenuous hike for a close up view.  We chose the moderate hike and still had a view a long way from the arch.  I must say the appearance of the arch was rather anticlimatic since Delicate Arch is the unofficial symbol of Utah and seen on many of their license plates.  Whew it was hot!IMG_0972IMG_0975


Normal View of Delicate Arch


Zoomed view of Delicate Arch



Turret Arch

We stopped at a neat group of arches called the Windows area.  Bill asked a lady to take our picture.  We struck up a conversation with her and the others in her group.  It is always interesting to hear how extensively people from other countries have toured our country and how well they know English.  This group was from Italy.  She told us she was working at the NIH in Baltimore during the 9/11 attack and how badly she felt for our country.  Currently she is a professor at the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world.  We love chance meetings with interesting people in our travels!


Sunny Side of North Window


South Window


North and South Windows Together

The next day we stayed home and had a “hot day”, our equivalent of a snow day.  Both days the temperature reached 106 outside by late afternoon.  Too hot to go outside plus we wanted to let our bodies recover from the previous day’s hikes since we were hoping to do some hiking the next day at nearby Canyonlands National Park which will be the topic of our next blog.


  • In 1952 Charles Steen, a young geologist, discovered uranium deposits in the Moab area.  This resulted in a rush of miners to Moab increasing the population by five-fold.  By 1955 there were approximately 800 mines producing high grade ore and Moab was nicknamed “The Uranium Capital of the World”.  However by the mid 1970’s foreign competition and federal regulations put an end to domestic uranium mining.  Sixteen tons of uranium remnants formed a massive pile three miles outside of Moab.  Today trains transport these remnants in covered cars to a permanent disposal site 30 miles north of Moab.  We could see in the distance the long line of train cars waited to be loaded.
  • In 1964 one of the large rock towers in Arches National Park was used in a Chevrolet television commercial featuring a car and a Hollywood model.  The car and nervous model were placed atop the tower by helicopter.  After filming, heavy wind prevented the helicopter from landing to take them back down.  The frightened model had to spend hours stranded in the car waiting for the wind to die down.
  • Airplanes are not allowed to fly over Arches National Park because of concern the sound may damage or break the delicate features.  Breaking the sound barrier in and around Moab is forbidden.
  • Arches became a national monument in 1929 and was then designated a national park in 1971.  It is 76,519 acres or 119 square miles.


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