Save Double Arch for Sundown: Arches National Park, Utah

Rays of the sun light up the structure known as Double Arch in Arches National Park.

Rays of late-afternoonsun light up the structure known as Double Arch in Arches National Park.

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.

Shadow play at Double Arch, Arches National Park

Shadow play at Double Arch, Arches National Park

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.

Walking the trail to Double Arch, early afternoon before the setting sun changes the color of the rocks.

Walking the trail to Double Arch, early afternoon before the setting sun changes the color of the rocks.

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.)

Hikers enjoy the view from the center of Double Arch.

Hikers (lower left) enjoy the view from the center of Double Arch.

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.

At the top: looking out from the "O" at Double Arch.

At the top: looking out from the “O” at 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.

View from the parking lot at Double Arch: structures lit up by afternoon sun at Arches National Park

View from the parking lot at Double Arch: structures lit up by afternoon sun at Arches National Park

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.

Nothing like sundown in America's national parks!

Nothing like sundown in America’s national parks!

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.

 

 

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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27 Responses to Save Double Arch for Sundown: Arches National Park, Utah

  1. Spectacular! We would love to see the double arches or any of the arches at sun down, but we were told that due to road closure, we must exit the park by 7PM ;(

  2. Amy says:

    Great photo of the Arch National Park! I love this park… 🙂

  3. tappjeanne says:

    love the way you capture the light, Rusha

  4. ralietravels says:

    We usually stop to see a ranger to ask about wheelchair accessible and easy trails etc. but this is good advice. We will expand our inquires.

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautiful national park at sundown. Your photos are quite magnificent and I can only imagine how wondrous it must have been to be there in person! I have never been to Itah and this post definitely makes a case for going!!

    Peta

    • If you come to America, you’ve got to see some of our national parks. The ones in Utah are unique for their red rocks and fascinating land formations. But all have their beauty. We live near the Great Smoky Mountains national park, the most visited one in the U.S. And if you get there early morning, you’ll feel that you’ve made it to heaven!

  6. So the partner got a chance to stay in Utah on work assignment but refused for more lucrative NYC. I am regretting the decision now. So beautiful, this!

  7. dawnkinster says:

    Oh my, how beautiful. LOVE Arches…though haven’t been there since I was a kid. It still looks wonderful…and the late sun, spectacular! Good advice from the Ranger!

  8. Thank heavens for our national parks system. Gorgeous territory posted here. 🙂

  9. egodiary.com says:

    Looks amazing! I haven’t been to Utah, but my husband traveled a few times there with work. And last time, they also visited Brice Canion. These red shades remind me of that landscape, which I only saw in pictures unfortunately 🙂

  10. HesterLeyNel says:

    Amazing captures. I love the play of light caused by the setting sun.

  11. Pit says:

    Thanks for the fantastic pictures.
    The title of your post made me think of something else, though:
    Let’s save all National Parks, Monuments and public lands from the greedy business interests and their willing collaborators in the present administration.

  12. Parul Thakur says:

    That’s so gorgeous. You are right that timing is so important while checking out places like these. Beautiful shots too.

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