Sometimes seeing a national park means prioritizing sites rather than just driving from Point A to Point B. And that’s certainly true for Arches National Park. Rangers at visitor centers know how to deal with us tourists and amateur photographers, so we make it a point to begin at the beginning by grabbing a map and some good advice first thing.
Exploring Arches is fairly easy with the National Park Service map — just follow the red line from Park Avenue to Balanced Rock to Fiery Furnace Viewpoint, all the way to Devils Garden Campground with a detour for Lower Delicate Arch. But here’s what the ranger recommended — and we took to heart: Save Double Arch for sundown. It meant going past the Windows Section and on to Delicate Arch, then return to catch Double Arch at the end of the day when Ol’ Sol turns on the rays for a spectacular red rock display.
Double Arch offers a short trail from the parking lot to the site with mostly loose sands to contend with. Pretty easy for any walker. And being among the non-climbers has its own reward — we found a flat rock on the trail to sit on, so we could watch the show from below.
Even before sundown, showy, brilliant reds light up the towering rocks in a way that no fiddling with your camera or Photoshop can duplicate. But the show begins in earnest right when the sun starts to dip. (Remember to ask the rangers for sundown times the day you arrive.)
You may be content to enjoy the view from inside the arch. But if you continue past the comfort of the rock’s “cradle,” you’ll be rewarded with wide-open views and late afternoon changes on the other side of Double Arch.
Of course, anywhere in Arches is a good place to be when the sun goes down. And the walk back to the parking lot offers faraway vistas with the ruddy beauty of late afternoon.
Since you can’t be in all places in Arches National Park at once, you may not catch every formation lit in the optimal late-day light. But you may be able to enjoy the rocks silhouetted by nature’s back lighting.
When in Utah, travel at sundown!
Rusha & Bert
For more information:
Arches National Park, Utah: https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm
And for more posts on the national parks in Utah, check out We Saw Utah! on our homepage.