3. Arches National Park
The way from Bryce Canyon to Arches National Park was about 4 hours and a half drive through I-70. The road was imposingly well-managed (and another unexpected credit for the Red State), and I was surprised by its speed limit of 80 mph (130 km/h).
Every visit on this trip was excellent, but the highlight was Arches National Park. In retrospect, I realized that it was because of its convenience. All the stunning sceneries were within a short distance of the driving ways. Yes, meeting magnificent views after a long and arduous journey should be gratifying. However, giving a carpet bombing of overwhelming spectacles in a short period gave me a different level of pleasure.
Arches National Park is one of the most popular (so crowded) US National Parks. But parking was not so challenging overall - probably visiting in November (a bit off-season) gave us a breather. But being an early bird always be the correct answer in National Parks. Thanks to that, luckily, we could see the sunrise at Balanced Rock.
We arrived at Devil's Garden Parking Lot at 7 am. Devils Garden Trail was the most challenging trail in the Park, but our target was to see two iconic landmarks: Tunnel Arch and Landscape Arch. It was an easy trail of about an hour, but you must be careful not to bypass Tunnel Arch. It didn't disclose its beautiful figure before I got close to it through the path. And the precarious figure of Landscape Arch gave a sense of amazement.
Then we ran for the Windows Section Parking Lot. It was where most of the major landmarks were concentrated. You really have to see the grandeur of the Double Arch; the magnificent couldn't be delivered in pictures. An hour of the trail led us to Turret Arch, South and North Window Arches.
In the afternoon, we prepare for the most popular trail of Arches: the Delicate Arch Trail. Watching the sunset at Delicate Arch should be the most iconic scenery: not only of Arches but also maybe of all the US National Parks. We headed out for it around 3:30 pm for the 5 pm sunset. We expected an hour to get there but made it in 50 minutes. The path was moderately challenging, with steady, rocky uphills. It might be looked dangerous when you see photos of the path - especially steep-looking cliffs. But I never thought it was dangerous. The rock had a good grip, and it was rare to find such a steep slope. But your water bottles could be in danger; we could see several bottles rolling down the cliff - and a brave man got down to the bottom and collected them.
Yes, the sunset was indeed the most impressive scene of this trip. We left for the return path right after sunset. We prepared head lanterns for the return, but we had no chance to use them because it took only 30 minutes.
The only issue was no food was available in the Park (no concessions or marts). But Moab (the town near the Park) was the best base camp. We stayed at Aarchway Inn, which was terrific. The room was affordable, clean, and spacious (with three beds). We had dinner at Trailhead Public House & Eatery, which was an excellent place for my tummy.
But the journey was not ended yet. We re-headed to Balanced Rock for stargazing. It was a pitch-black night. The head lanterns finally could find their place to play, but they had to take cover soon after. I can tell that it was the moment when I saw the most stars in my life; it was literally pouring down stars.
(To be continued)