Updated: Dec 9, 2020
THREE SHOOTING STARS FLEW OVER THE WINDOWS OF MY CAR. The sky was covered with tiny stars glistening under arches. People were scarce and on their way to Moab to catch their socially distanced reservations. Nightfall is always been the best time to capture the magnificent landscapes, you have control of the playfulness of artificial light with the limited moonlight. Night is also when you feel the most vulnerable and when these enormous rock formations begin to feel larger than it is yet it’s the perfect time to experience the history of Arches National Park.
During my night projects, I keep the people as assets to the land even if they are loud or carrying large flashlights. I factor their presence in my landscape photographs because landscape photography to me is the human influence and interaction to the landmark.
I followed this man with his large light hiking the Double Arch. During the day, this spot is filled with people climbing and yelling but at night it was in total solitude. I stopped just a few feet away from the foot of the arch and I watched this man shine his light around the arches as if he was searching for treasure in an excavated land. He shone his light on one side that lit the entire place and the sprinkled stars above boasted the darkness if looking with the naked eye.
It reminded me of my travels, a perfect solitude with yourself. Most of my travels are solo because there is something magical about exploring without catering to others. No expectations to meet from a false promise that you made to others. Also, the fear of possibly getting lost in your hikes tests your relationship with yourself and how you would overcome a challenge without anyone to rely on.
It can be very scary traveling alone but when you are consistently doing it you become more independent and that nothing will challenge your being if you’ve become in sync with yourself.
Arches National Park is full of wonderful trails that can be climbed in just a few hours. The Windows section of the park is one of the easiest and rewarding hikes available. It is home to the Double Arch, The Windows, and the Turret Arch. Each of these arches are climbable and going through them feels like going through a portal to a different dimension. Most of the view beyond the front of arches is an overlook to the rest of the National Park with little or no people, making it the perfect photo location.
There is also the Balanced Rock where your perception of simple physics are challenged because of how this rock balance on the tip of an extruding rock. This is easily accessible and you will definitely see it driving in the park. The perfect time to go is during dusk because of the colors the sun creates making the view beyond it looking like an oil painting.
It is also home to one of my favorite arches, the Delicate Arch. There are two ways to view this
arch and it’s got to do with how much climbing you want and how far you want to see it. If you want a wider and peaceful view there is a trailhead that is less than a mile to hike, though the arch may seem far, having a decent binoculars will let you see the arch’s sediments. And if you are daring enough, you could hike beyond the trails and into the large boulders (there is no actual trail so please be careful when going pass the trailhead) because you will see an overlooking cliff the is comparable to the Horseshoe Bend but minus the river. It was definitely a great surprise and it is perfect place during sunrise.
The second path is the more populated trailhead and you’ll be left waiting for a parking spot if you’re coming in late. Hikers tend to start filling up parking spots as early as 5 AM and it’s because the view at the end of the trail is beyond real. The hike is about 1-2 hours long with mostly uphills but moderately doable. The path is completely visible and spacious, plenty of space to keep your distance from other hikers even if it’s a heavily trafficked path. And once you reached the top, you are greeted by an amphitheater-style peak where the arch sits. Many of hikers stay here for an indefinite amount of time and you’ll have to fall in line to get your own picture of the arch. If you are visiting the national park this is the must-see destination in both night and day.
Then there is a Devil’s Garden. This location is an amazing display of the extruding rocks it different forms arches, waves, and balancing rocks. This will occupy half of your day whether you take the round-trip through the primitive trail or an out-and-back trip. This hike requires a lot of water because of the scarce shade through the entire park, I made a mistake thinking one water bottle full of water was enough and it left me dragging my shoes on sand before I reached the checkpoint.
Devil’s Garden is home to several points of interests such as the Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Dark Angel, and Private Arch, which all have their own distinct features.
Arches National Park is easily one of the parks you have to visit and it can be completely discovered in two very full days. Then if you want to further explore more, the town of Moab delivers many activities that can fill the rest of your stay including skydiving, ATVs, horseback riding, biking, and tours.