The drive from Denver to Moab is about 6 hours. I checked the odometer on the way back – 355 miles door-to-door. It was about 4 hours into that, maybe 250 miles from home, when I remembered something. Something I had forgotten. My hiking boots. Yeah, I’m just that smart.
Thankfully, Moab is enough of an outdoor sports mecca that we had no problem finding a shoe store. I ended up with a nice pair of Five Ten hiking shoes that have got the stickiest soles I’ve ever experienced. I could actually feel them peeling off of the slickrock.
New shoes acquired, we headed straight over to Arches. We stopped at Park Avenue, one of the first trails in the park. It’s a walk down a corridor of impressively large rock fins, reminiscent of the concrete canyons of New York City. Thankfully it had some shade too, because it was 4:30 PM and about 95 degrees in the shade.
It must’ve rained fairly recently, because there were a few little pools in the rocks. I can’t imagine they would last long in that heat and dry air. We certainly didn’t – just a quick jaunt down the canyon and then we headed back to the car.
It was getting towards sunset, so we headed off the Delicate Arch. That’s the park’s marquee attraction, the best known of the arches. It’s on the billboards for Moab and the Utah license plate. It’s an easy-to-moderate hike in my book, though the heat and lack of any shade made it much worse.
Unbeknownst to us the last 50 feet of the trail has a sharp dropoff right on the side. Wendy is not a fan of edges. Even when I can at least reassure her that an apparent drop is really just a 5 foot tall ledge, she still doesn’t like them. This one actually is a hundred foot drop, so I didn’t really think she’d make it. Much to my surprise, she actually did get around it and up to the top.
It was a mob scene at the top, with at least 30 people already there and more arriving as sunset neared. Everyone apparently needs their picture taken standing under the arch, usually while making some stupid face. There was actually a line for that at one point. It was exactly the kind of thing that drives me nuts about “touristy” destinations. We stuck it out for a while, but eventually decided to get back down that walkway before sunset caused the mass of people to rush down the cliff face like a swarm of lemmings.
I’m glad we went to Delicate Arch. It’s one of those things you just have to do at Arches, and we got that box checked right off the bat. But I think my favorite part of it was when we learned that it used to be called “Cowboy Pants Arch”. I think that’s a way better name for it. Maybe someday a Vegas casino will buy it and put a giant neon cowboy torso on top of it, but until then you’ll just have to use your imagination.
A few more photos from that day (click for larger)