hike

Delicate Arch (Day + Night Hike) | Arches National Park, Utah

 

Delicate Arch
~1-2 hr Roundtrip, 3 mi Roundtrip, Intermediate

How to get there: Turn right off the main road onto Delicate Arch Road after 11.5 miles from the park entrance. park in Wolf Ranch parking lot on the left. You can also keep going straight to view the arch from the Upper and Lower Viewpoints.

The entire hike is only about 1.6 mi each way. It only took us 30 min to hike up, but we read it takes most 45 min –1 hr. It isn’t extremely difficult except the middle section which is a consistent incline on the face of open rock. The trail starts pretty flat, you pass a cabin and eventually reach a short incline. This incline turns hilly, but is still pretty easy. Walking up and down a couple times, you reach the base of the previously mentioned incline.

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Once you reach the incline it isn’t super steep but just consistently uphill for quite a distance. Because there is no clearly define path, just follow the crowd up! While it is defined as a ‘difficult’ hike but the park, there were people of all ages making their way up. Just stop and take breaks every once in a while.

At the top, the last stretch is winding through short shrubs/trees and rocks. Finally, you reach a set of stairs that takes you up to a ridgeway along a rock wall. Just above the stairs, if you climb up the wall, there is a hole that gives you a view of the arch from that point. Continuing on, you follow this semi-narrow ridge along the wall before turning the corner and seeing the Delicate Arch.

It really is stunning view and I can’t decide if it looks bigger in person or smaller, but regardless standing underneath it is something to experience. There is a line for pictures underneath the arch, but everyone is polite waiting their turn. People even offer to take help you take your photo. Make sure to fasten hats and other loose articles of clothing. It was very windy at the top! Also if you are afraid of heights, something to note: the whole area is like a huge bowl that funnels down, and you walk along the top edge to reach the arch.


Delicate Arch at Night

Essentially the hike is the exact same but here are some tips and bit from our experience:

FOLLOW THE ROCK STACKS (later learned these are called rock cairns) We have come to the conclusion that these were created to help you find your way and navigate. Let’s just say we got lost twice, and it was scary in the pitch dark. So follow the stacks and footprints in the sand.

Make sure to dress warm and wear head lamps. We started our hike around 11PM in hopes of seeing the Milky Way at it’s highest point. Do some research beforehand to find out what time is best. National Parks are ideal for stargazing and night photography because they are so isolated from civilization and light pollution. We used the free app Sky Guide which we found pretty useful. If you are going up for photography, allow yourself enough time to hike up and set up your equipment. You might want to go at a time where the Milky Way is right above or through the arch.

While hiking up, we did pass by a couple groups but not may were around. We also heard coyotes in the distance but not close to where we were. The hike was pretty scary with getting lost and it being completely dark. At the same time it was thrilling and not sure if I would want to do it again, but I definitely don’t regret it. Overall go in a group, be careful and follow the rock stacks!

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Devil’s Garden, Double Arch, Windows | Arches National Park, UT

 

Devil’s Garden
4.2 mi roundtrip, ~2–3 hr, Easy-Intermediate, Landscape, Partition, Double-O Arch

How to get there: Devil’s Garden is at the very end of Arches National Park which is a one way park and not a loop. It’s about 18 miles into the park. There are lots of parking spots, but also lots of people, so make sure you get there early. We arrived around 8AM and parking was no problem.

Start at the trailhead in the center of the parking lot, next to the bathrooms. Within the first 0.3 mi you will come to the first major arch: Tunnel Arch, and a little farther along at is Pine Tree Arch. Both are exciting to see but nothing compared what is to come.

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At about 0.8 mi is Landscape Arch, the first iconic arch in Devil’s Garden. Landscape Arch is the longest arch in Arches National Park at ~290 feet wide. Up until this point, the trail is relatively even and mellow. Some turn around at this point, but you can continue on to the Primitive Trail to reach Double-O Arch.

While the trail becomes more challenging and is classified as a ‘difficult’ trail by the Arches NP Visitor’s Guide, we found it to intermediate at most if not still easy. You leave the ground’s sandy path and climb onto an inclining ramp-like sandstone fin, elevating 250 ft with drop offs on each side, but is by no means extremely narrow. After you reach the top of this section, there’s another fin you can climb onto, to get a cool overlook of what you just climbed.

After you finish this fin, you hike for about half a mile on the dirt path before climbing onto another fin. This fin is wider and flat the whole way with a great view of Devil’s Garden on the right.  On the way there is also a sign that points you to and overlook where you can see Black Arch. Just past Black Arch maybe less than half a mile is Double-O Arch

Towards the end you climb down another narrow fin before the last little walk to the base of the Double-O Arch. Climbing down the last fin can be a little intimidating but is by no means impossible. It is recommended to walk through the arch to get a view from the other side.

On our way back we stopped at Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. Partition Arch was pretty cool but a little sketchy once you climbed through, but sitting underneath such a large arch was a cool experience. We didn’t find Navajo Arch particularly exciting but is really close by so worth checking out!


Double Arch
0.25 mi, ~5 min, Easy-Intermediate

How to get there: The drive from the entrance of the park is about 9.5 mi. You turn right towards “Windows Trailhead” just past Balanced Rock. Park in the lot connecting Double Arch and the Windows. You might have to drive around a couple times to find parking, but there is always someone leaving. I would suggest parking and walking between the two instead of re-parking to go to the other, which is only about a mile.

There’s a short, easy, half mile walk down the trail to the base of the Double Arch. You can see it from the parking lot and just follow the trail. However if you want to climb and sit in one of the arches this part could be considered ‘intermediate.’ The view through the arch isn’t that exciting but sitting in the arch is pretty cool. Coming down from the arch is probably the hardest part, as it is a little steep.


The Windows: North + South, Turret Arch
0.5 mi to N Window from trailhead, 1 mi Between all three, 10-20 min total, Easy

The North Window is the one you immediately see from the trailhead. From the North Window you continue on towards Turret Arch and if you turn left instead of going straight to Turret Arch you will turn a corner and see the South Window. From these windows you can also see the Elephant’s Parade.

 

Emerald Pools, Riverside Walk | Zion National Park, UT

 
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Emerald Pools
3 mi in-and-out, ~2 hr, Easy-Intermediate, Stop #5 Zion Lodge

How to get there: Park in Zion’s Visitor Center lot. Take the complimentary shuttle to The Lodge (5). Walk across the road and across the bridge to Lower Falls Trails.

Because of all the rain, the falls at the Pools  were full and flowing. I’ve heard it is a little less exciting during the summer months. The trail to the Lower Pool is a flat and easy 0.5 mi. Once you reach the falls the trail takes you right under them along an alcove as  they pour down over you into the pools. You can see the falls from multiple angles if you keep walking.

The Middle Pool is an additional 0.5 miles and the trail gets slightly more difficult with little incline but still easy. The Middle Pool are the streams that flows down and turns into the waterfalls that flow into the Lower Pool.  From here you get a great, wide view of the scenery.

The Upper Pool is the most exciting to see, with water falling from 300+ ft. It’s only an additional 0.5 mi of moderate incline, still pretty easy. Towards the end you cross some small streams by jumping from rock to rock, before you face the towering falls.

Overall, highly recommend hiking the Pools. It’s cool seeing a lush oasis of waterfalls and plants in such a dry setting. It generally is pretty crowded so plan accordingly, and bringing a lunch or snacks would be a good idea!


Riverside Walk, The Narrows
1 mi in-and-out, ~1 Hr, Easy, Stop #8 Temple Of Sinawava (Last Stop)

How to get there: Park in Zion’s Visitor Center lot. Take the complimentary shuttle to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava (8).

Unfortunately, with the heavy rain and definite flash flood warnings we were unable to hike The Narrows. Instead, we did the easy Riverside Walk that takes you to the entrance of The Narrows where the riverbank disappears. It was a super easy walk that took maybe 20-30 minutes and was just a nice spot to takes some pictures at. There wasn’t too much to see at the end. We will definitely have to come back to hike through the water to reach the famous “Wall Street” where the walls really come in and around you.

 

Angel’s Landing, Scout Lookout | Zion National Park, UT

 

Scout’s Lookout
2 mi, ~1–2 hr, Intermediate-Hard, Stop #6 The Grotto

How to get there: Park in Zion’s Visitor Center lot. It’s pretty big, but gets crowded during peak season so you have to park outside the park and walk in. Take the complimentary shuttle to The Grotto (6). Walk across the street to the Angel’s Landing trailhead on the right (part of West Rim Trail).

The hike starts on a sandy path along the river before hitting a paved part that begins a mild incline. Soon you hit the first set of longer switchbacks climbing to Refrigerator Canyon where you walk along tall canyon walls. It flattens out for a bit in the canyon until you reach the challenging 21 switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles. After that you are rewarded with the view atop Scout’s Lookout!

Overall this isn’t an easy hike but also not impossible. It’s just a steep incline but as long as you take breaks when appropriate, it is a great hike! We went on a rainy day so the heat nor crowd was an issue. But many suggest arriving early to avoid both. While many say it took ~2 hours to get up to Scout’s Lookout, it only took us ~1 hour hiking at a moderately quick pace. We stopped maybe 3 or 4 times to catch our breath and take in the view.

Angel’s Landing (cont. from Scout’s Lookout)
0.5 mi, ~1 hr, Intermediate-Hard, Stop #6 The Grotto

How to get there: See directions for Scout’s Lookout. This hike is an additional 0.5 miles from Scout’s Lookout along a rocky ridge with chains.

After taking a photo break at Scout’s Lookout, we continued on to Angels Landing. While it isn’t challenging on the heart, it does require some caution when maneuvering along narrow ledges. The hike itself is fun, climbing up and down rocks and along ledges with the help of the chains. Since it was raining pretty hard, the scariest part was how slippery the rocks and chains were while we held on for dear life. We were expecting it to be a lot harder after reading other’s reviews but found it to be only moderately difficult!

You continue climbing up until you reach the great view. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the view! While it was disappointing, we were proud of ourselves for making the hike through the cold wind and rain. Even without the views, the towering rocks and canyon walls were still captivating to walk amongst. We will definitely be back one day to hike this again and hopefully see the view.