Tuesday, October 4, 2016

“Where God Put the West”

Moab, Utah “where God put the West’.
        -- John Wayne, 1961, while filming The Comancheros on location

Thanks to movies and television, when you think of the ‘Wild West’ or ‘Out West’ or ‘Cowboy Country’ in the United States, images come to mind of a vast, barren landscape. Probably with a tumbleweed or two rolling past, a desert wind howling with an ominous cloud overhead, maybe a herd of buffalo, coyote, and, of course, a cowboy looking a lot like John Wayne atop his trusty ol’ Paint. 

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Monument Valley, Utah in the distance
You are probably thinking of southeastern Utah, the location where a large number of those movies were filmed in the mid-20th Century. On our late summer road trip through the area, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a cowboy or two gallop past. With so many National and Navajo Parks in the area we will need to go back one day for another dose of what has drawn film-makers and tourists to the area for decades.

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National Parks in Southeast Utah and Northwest Arizona
While I’ve previously written about Monument Valley and Moab, today’s focus is Arches National Park just four miles north of Moab. Established as a National Park in 1929, it features more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches well as hundreds of unique geological formations.

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Arches, arches everywhere
We set out about 9:30 a.m. Friday morning of Labor Day weekend to visit the 73,234-acre park. (That is about 119 square miles or 310 square kilometers). I note the time because as the day wore on the lines grew significantly and by Saturday morning cars waiting to enter the park stretched the length of the entryway and out to the highway. Wait times can become significant. Rangers will close the park when they’ve reached the maximum number of visitors.

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Looking back at Moab as we head into Arches National Park
The 40-mile round trip road through the park begins with the two-lane road climbing sharply just after the entry gates. Elevations in the park run from 3,960 feet along the Colorado River to 5,653 at its Elephant Butte.  That tiny building – as it appears in the photo – is the large Visitor Center and shouldn’t be missed.

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Petra, Jordan or Moab, Utah?
‘How could anything top Monument Valley?’ that wonderful stretch of land we’d traveled through just the day before. We couldn't imagine anything topping that, but we were only a few minutes into the park before we knew it was going to rival, if not exceed, what we had seen in Monument Valley. We were stunned at the similarities between Arches and Jordan’s Petra so we weren’t surprised to learn that parts of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ had been filmed in both locations.

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Mother Nature's handiwork
Precipitation in this area is less than 10 inches a year and on the day we visited the sky was so blue and the sun so bright you needed sun glasses to look at the amazing rock formations (and sun screen and hats).

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The national park roadway
According to National Geographic, 300 million years ago inland seas covered this vast area, refilling and evaporating 29 times leaving salt beds thousands of feet deep. Because salt is less dense than rock, it rose up through it forming domes and ridges.

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Views at every curve in the road
Most of the arches in the park are red sandstone which was deposited a mere 150 million years ago.

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Stones or statues?
Small pull-outs and parking areas are provided along the route through the park.  In some areas trails lead from the parking areas taking visitors a bit closer or allowing a different perspective as was the case with the balanced rock below:

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Balanced rock
From the parking lot, this is how the rock appeared. But from the trail that led around it, this is how it looked:

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Everything has two-sides to its story
A good reminder that there are two sides to every story and its good to remember it is all in your perspective!

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Some needed to get up close and personal
The arches were many – and you’ll note from my photos – never devoid of the tourist who needed to get up close and personal.

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Trails in the park are user-friendly
Trails were well maintained and easy to navigate.  Some used walking sticks as the gravel made it difficult in places to get a foot-hold, but most were easily traveled. (Not recommended to do them at high noon as we found ourselves doing them – early morning or late afternoon would be much better both in terms of heat and lighting for photos.)

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Too much to see in only one trip
They describe the formations as fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodos and balanced rocks in this park.  By whatever name, we found them all stunning.

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Nature's varnish
The black substance, we learned at the visitor’s center, is a natural ‘varnish’ that the stone produces.

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Use your imagination on this one
Our National Park’s just celebrated their 100th birthday and it takes a trip to a park like this one to remind us just what a national treasure we have in these magnificent places.  And for those of you ‘boomers’ out there a reminder that 'old age' has its benefits, like the National Park's life-long pass that gets you in to every National Park as many times as you wish to visit will cost you only $10.  And that to our way of thinking, is one of the best travel deals to be had!

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Arches National Park - 'a must-visit' in Utah
For all the information you need on Arches National Park go to the park’s website: https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

For information on the National Park Pass for Seniors: http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html

Thanks so much for the time you spent with us today ~ it is always nice to have you with us.  A big welcome to our new followers and subscribers; we hope you’ll comment often as that is what makes this blog fun!  Our wishes to you for safe and happy travels until we are together again ~ and next week we begin our tales from Greece where we've taken up residence at our Stone House on the Hill for the autumn.

Linking up this week with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

38 comments:

  1. We've been through this area and it really is gorgeous. As soon as I saw your thumbnail I thought "Three Sisters"!

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    1. It really is a magnificent part of the U.S. and it took us so long to discover it! So much to see and so little time, right???

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  2. Incredible shots! :D I can't believe that I had no idea about this national park!

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    1. Becky, thanks for the comment. I do hope you get a chance to visit this wonderful place sometime - the trails call out!

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  3. We've been there, too, and it is beyond magnificent...you sure got some great photos....xoxo

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    1. Thanks BJ. It would be difficult to take a bad photo with this as your subject matter!

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  4. This is such an amazing location. Yes I would expect to see cowboys and Indians thundering across the plains. Thank you for taking us there for a visit. Happy travels.

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    1. If you let your imaginations run, you almost can 'see' them off in the distance. It was a fun visit to a most stunning area of the U.S.

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  5. This is one of our favorite parks. We visited in August a few years ago so understand the importance of timing when visiting the park. It really is an amazing park. I'm so glad you got to experience its beauty. If you go back, we highly recommend the hike to see Delicate Arch up close.

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    1. We'll have to take your recommendation on a trip that doesn't fall on a major holiday weekend as ours did. Even in that wide open space there were tons of people all wanting to do that hike. We'll wait for a less populated time. Glad you also loved the park - it is definitely a favorite!

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  6. This is a park I really want to visit. Trying to find shapes in rocks is a thing I like to do. So interesting the ones you were able to capture.

    It is funny you wrote about the image of the West that appears in movies because this weekend I visited Lone Pine, CA where the town was having their annual film festival. The area surrounding Lone Pine has been used in hundreds of Western movies. So, turns out a lot of Western Movies feature the Eastern Sierra as a background.

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    1. Isn't it fun to visit these old Western settings and see that the places really did/do exist? I love the southwestern US for that. In fact on one trip we visited the old Ponderosa ranch movie set. . .such a thrill to see where Pa, Little Joe, Hoss, and Adam - not to mention Hop Sing the cook had 'lived' ;-) Thanks for the vist Ruth (now I have to head to Lone Pine for another dose of nostalgia!)

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  7. Your photos from the national parks in Utah are amazing. I hope to get to some of the Mighty 5 the next time I visit the USA.

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    1. Rhonda, definitely make this unpopulated part of the southwest (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico) part of your travels in the U.S. It will be a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) after our big cities.

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  8. We spent several weeks driving and camping in this part of the US and agree it is gorgeous. Arches National Park is definitely a highlight. We visited Arches while camping in Moab so were able to arrive early for no lines and cooler temps. Thanks for happy reminders of this lovely area.

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    1. Glad this post brought back happy memories. Our next visit will definitely be early morning or late afternoon and not on a holiday weekend. Thanks for the visit~ hope to see your comments often!

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  9. What a fabulous landscape. Those rock formations are amazing - it's hard to believe that they're natural!

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    1. It is pretty amazing and so spectacular that we can hardly wait to return. Thanks for the visit!

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  10. We are looking forward to a future trip to the US west and the national parks. Your photos of Arches National Park are great! Thanks for the inspiration! I am saving your post to review when we go.

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    1. Glad to hear the post is of value and do hope you'll get a chance to visit Arches when you do!

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  11. Utah is spectacularly scenic. I enjoyed visiting southern Utah a few years ago and enjoyed seeing more of the landscape now through your images. Can't wait to go again!

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    1. Carole, so nice when someone can relate to a post and know what I am trying to portray! I am with you - can't wait to return!

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  12. The rock formations are really fascinating! That's one of the things I remember about a previous trip to Utah. Amazing landscapes and rock formations. Thx for the reminder.

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    1. That is the truth. . .amazing landscapes to be found here as well as lovely wide-open spaces! Thanks for stopping by Doreen!

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  13. These rock formations are amazing. Such beautiful countryside. I hope to get to Arches National Park one day.

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    1. Oh Donna I know you did such a nice job reporting on Phoenix that I know you would have fabulous tales to tell from here. Hope you get to visit one day!

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  14. When you combine those gorgeous rock formations with that blue sky it's beauty plus!

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    1. It really was incredible and I can only imagine how an early, early morning sun or late afternoon would have enhanced the experience. We'll just have to go back!

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  15. I have long wanted to visit the Moab, Utah, area and Arches National Park looks like a "must-see!" Beautiful photos and informative narrative...

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    1. Glad you found this informative Debbra and I do hope you get a chance to visit. The place is simply amazing.

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  16. The rock formations are incredible and the blue skies are a perfect backdrop!

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    1. Sometimes reality can't be beat! And this was one of them!! Thanks for stopping by Irene. . .

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  17. That landscape is simply stunning. It's far more likely that I'll visit Arches before I make it to Petra, so I will take your word that they are reminiscent of each other. I just listened to a podcast that raved about Milt's, a diner near Moab. Did you have a chance to eat there?

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    1. No we didn't make it to Milt's. I think I might have noticed it, but as with all places in travel, so many choices and so few meals to get to try them all. I'll keep it in mind for a future trip. Thanks Michele.

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  18. Jackie, It's so true. You can't beat the beauty of the red rocks in the American west...so pretty!

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    1. It really is stunning - and those shades of red, simply are stunning!

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  19. It looks so beautiful and mystical! I've been to a lot of Utah's National Parks, but never Arches National Park; I must get there!!!

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  20. Such stunning geological formations!! Amazing place (I know about it, only from tv documentaries and various posts). It's so incredible this nature; it has such beautiful and very fascinating wonders, pretty similar in different parts of the world (as you mentioned about Jordan's Petra)!
    October came with a cold weather, in here; so, it is pleasant to have this tour and to look/discover/read new info about these aspects seen through your camera lens. Best regards and many thanks for sharing these beautiful series of photos from your travels, as always! HAve a nice week and cosy autumn in Greece!

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