Utah, United States
Earlier this year, I found out that I had an opportunity to travel to Utah. Naturally, I leapt at the opportunity. I had never considered taking a trip there and began to look online at “Things to do in Utah.” A few minutes into my research I was so flipping excited. I love the outdoors, and Utah is home to many gorgeous National Parks including Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park.
Hiking In Utah
Based on the time frame I had for the trip, I knew that the longer trips of Bryce Canyon and Zion would be out. I was fortunate to have a friend and guide along for the trip who I was able to trade off on the driving duties with. To drive from Salt Lake City to Moab averaged out to be about 2.5 hours each way.
Arches National Park
At the park entrance gate, the admission fee is $25 per vehicle. All fees are collected and put towards maintenance by the National Parks Service. This low cost is a bargain for families who are looking for an inexpensive way to get outdoors and to get active on vacation. There is also an option where you can buy a yearly pass to all of the area’s National Parks. After driving up a hill, there is a main parking lot with a central office where you can pick up a park map or stop off at the washrooms or water filling station. After consulting our park map, and getting some advice from the Park Rangers, we decided to hike up to the Delicate Arch. This is the most famous arch at the park, as it symbolizes Utah on both state license plates and postage stamps. As we drove throughout the park, I took in all the scenery. The red rocks are breathtakingly gorgeous in person.
How are Arches Formed?
Arches are formed by the weathering away of a mass of Entrada Sandstone by erosion of both wind and water elements over hundreds to thousands of years. The arch is the only part that is presently left. After a period of time, the existing arches will collapse and others will be formed. It’s important that as tourists we should go and see these arches while they are still standing!
Hiking The Delicate Arch
For the hike, I brought a bottle of water (which is recommended for any hike in the park) along with my camera. The hike to the Delicate Arch can be divided into three sections. The total hike time is about 1-1.5 hours hiking upwards and 30 minutes hiking downwards with gravity. The first hiking section is a mostly flat incline with a well-worn path. This part was easy. The second part of the hike is up a rock face at about a 45 degree angle. This was brutal. I was gasping for breath and couldn’t seem to get enough air in my lungs. My water didn’t last that long. I had to stop for multiple breaks to regain my breath. The third section wound around several rock faces and lead straight up to the arch itself.
The difficulties I had hiking the delicate arch were puzzling to me. I consider myself an avid hiker. I enjoy getting out on weekends with a good pair of runners and finding somewhere new to explore. I am generally in a great mood when I hike; I take nature photographs or listen to my latest playlist. This hike was not that kind of hike. My hiking companion couldn’t explain it either, since she was having no trouble with the hike. It was the winter months of Utah, so the temperatures were lower, and still I was being lapped by many grandparents, parents carrying children and children themselves. I figured out the difficultly later. It was the elevation. The what? Yes, the elevation. Vancouver is at sea level (0 feet), Utah is at 4,000 feet and during the hike, I gained another 1,000 feet. As my plane ride to Utah had arrived only the day before, my body hadn’t yet had a chance to acclimatize.
A Happy Ending
There is a happy ending to this adventure – I did manage to make it to the top. I clocked over 30,000 steps on this hike. The arch itself is huge! The Delicate Arch is freestanding at 65 feet or 20 meters tall. As you can see in the photos, I am very small in comparison. Overall the hike was a very rewarding experience. Would I do it again? I’m not sure. However, seeing the Delicate Arch is a bucket list item for anyone outdoorsy and who is up to the challenge of the climb. Be sure to bring water and to avoid the summer months for hiking as the temperatures are just too high. The mornings and evenings are much cooler to do the hike. For my personal memories, I took some amazing pictures to remember this adventure.
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