As I mentioned in my previous post, we planned our trip around our time in Arches because of the road construction they're doing this summer. Because of this, we were able to do the Delicate Arch hike at sunrise! I honestly am not sure what time in the morning we got up (it must have been 4am or earlier) to drive to the trail head, but all I remember was it was very early.
This hike is one of the most popular spots in the park , so we decided to hike at sunrise for three reasons. The first reason was to avoid the crowds, the second was to beat the heat (there is no shade on this hike, I can't imagine doing it later in the day when it was 90 degrees and sunny) and our third reason, for lovely sunrise photos. :) Now I researched doing this hike quite a bit before we attempted it. It's not hard to follow the trail.. in the daylight. I read numerous blog posts of folks getting lost and accidentally going off trail. A good part of the "trail" is really just open, exposed rock face with cairns to guide you. The best suggestion I have is to do this trail in the light before you try it in the dark. Unfortunately we didn't have time for that, so after some research we decided to go for it. Want to guess what happened?
We got lost. Somehow we ended up off the trail for about 20 minutes, but we managed to find it again after a little while. I'm not totally sure what happened, we carefully followed the cairns and I had a high-powered headlamp on to spot the next ones. But honestly it was just so dark and open up there that we must have missed something and went off trail. Just goes to show you can prepare, research, and have all the right things, but still make mistakes. Fortunately, we found the trail after a while and made it up to the arch with plenty of time to spare before sunrise!
Getting up early meant we only had to share this view with about a dozen other people instead of the hundred that would be there later in the day.
Selfies are great, but I'm thankful we took the time to ask other folks to take our photo so that we have memories like this one!
The hike back down went very quickly in the light.. and on the trail.
Close to the trailhead there are some beautiful petroglyphs! These were the first ones we saw on the trip and they were really neat.
After our sunrise hike we drove to the next trail head to see three more arches! We hiked a few more miles to see Broken Arch (above & below), Tapestry Arch, and Sand Dune Arch.
We climbed and played on a lot of rocks while we were in Utah.
I really enjoyed learning about the desert plants at each National Park. It was so neat to be there while a number of desert flowers were in bloom!
This plant is called Yucca.
The bark above is from the tree below, a Juniper Tree.
Sand Dune Arch
After a long day of hiking, we went back to the hotel and took showers, long naps, and explored Moab in the evening. After the sun went down and the stars came out, we drove back into the park to gaze into the night sky.
Balanced Rock at night.
North Window in the dark
Turret Arch in the dark
We were a little bummed we weren't able to see the Milky Way, but we were treated to something else that was pretty spectacular - the moon rise. It lit up the arches with a beautiful hue and made it feel like sunset, but with the stars out. The landscape at arches is so bizarre that it almost felt like we were on a different planet.
North & South Windows, lit up by the moon.
An old Juniper tree, lit up by the moon, with Jupiter above it.
My sweet husband stood out in the still, dark night with me for half an hour while I shot this time lapse of Turret Arch. The motion you see in the photo is the movement of the stars as the earth rotates. I loved getting back into some astro photography and I am hoping to practice more this summer! Our two days in Arches were awesome. Although it was a bummer that we weren't able to do the Devil's Garden Loop, it's just a good reason to come back in the future. :)