Procrastination Arches- WIP Wednesday

In between my day job, reading up on the German State of Bavaria for future travel plans and spending too much money on magazines that I don’t need (MARK is severely under appreciated I think) i’ve also been procrastinating when it comes to art projects. Inspired by my trip last October to Arches NP these quick sketches took the time I should have spent on finishing the Canyonlands projects I blogged about last week.

I haven’t quite decided on which of these will be the next stand alone piece I work on- knowing myself i’ll probably draw up a couple more sketches before I decide, but it was fun to get a feel for what I might do. Color palette is still up for grabs but I think I might stick with a more traditional feel this time around…maybe.

~m

An Unexpected Finale – Arches National Park, Utah


Balanced rock, Arches National Park






Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

About a month after the photos in this post were taken, i’m sitting at home in my office/art studio with graphite pencils scattered all over my floor, three sketchbooks open to various projects and a reheated cup of coffee that tastes just this side of too sweet. In my head i’m composing letters to penpals I really need to send and coming up for excuses as to why i’ve yet to finish Gödel, Escher, Bach by D. Hofstadter though i’ve no problem buying still more Byzantine empire history books. In short, my heart is content to be at home, but there is always a part of me that longs for the promise of adventure that the open road holds and the way my hands itch for a camera and an interesting landscape. 

By the time we had finished up at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint it was around 9:30 and while we turned the car back around with enthusiasm to head back deeper into the park, there was definitely the sense that the relative peace we had been experiencing was well on it’s way to being over. The day before, after getting drenched to the bone, we had arrived back at the park around 10:30 to stop in at the visitor center so I could stock up on postcards and other souvenirs for friends, coworkers and penpals and it had been a surreal experience to wait in a long line of cars for about half an hour just to get inside. There had been loose plans to possible do the Devils Garden trail, at least as far enough to see the Landscape Arch section but after seeing the overflowing parking lot we decided to save this part of the park for another trip.

Before you get wilting with sadness with me,I should point out that this is something I like to do almost everywhere I go. I like this idea of leaving behind pockets of unknown adventure for myself to look forward to on a return trip, something wholly new and unexpected to come back to and explore. (Also,I can be such an anti-social SOB that the idea of knocking elbows with dozens upon dozens of people while trying to find a way to enjoy something outdoors is bristling to me. Drop me into a city and i’m fine, but the crowded outdoors is a jarring dissonance.)

On a more positive note, I’ve got to mention the Sand Dune Arch as one of my most favorite parts of the park- there’s something utterly magical about the area and the way the light filters through the rocky passages and spills itself onto the warm sand below that is not to be missed. After leaving Sand Dune Arch, if you head up towards the Skyline Arch, there’s a bit of an unmarked offshoot dirt road you’ll see on the lefthand side of the road and if you happened to take that, you’ll end up in the valley bellow, wondering where the heck you’re going but also hopefully enjoying the unexpected views. This actually takes you towards the Tower Arch trail….and if you keep going, dumps you rather unceremoniously out of Arches. About 45 minuets after that, just when you’ve begun to despair that you’ve really gone the wrong way and you think the road couldn’t get more rough and bumpy, yet again you’ll be unexpectedly dumped off the road, this time back onto the main 191 highway.

And so, that’s a weird way to say goodbye to Arches that I wouldn’t exactly recommend unless you’ve got some kind of Jeep/high clearance vehicle but hey, the surreal-ness of the adventure was definitely enjoyable.

~m

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint- Arches National Park, Utah


Tower of Babel, Arches National Park
The Organ at Arches National Park
The Three Gossips, Arches National Park


“Tell me of the way the lights splash against the rocks.” 

If I had to pick a favorite rock formation from this viewpoint, it would be the rather awesomely named, The Organ. A close second would be The Tower of Babel. The Three Gossips (and if you can’t guess which one that is just from the name alone I might just need to sign you up for some new glasses) was really fascinating to gaze at from below and reminded me strongly of the Three Sisters I saw at Monument Valley back last March.

Though this section of the park was the one we spent the least amount of time at, I would definitely recommend parking your car and crossing the street from the view point to walk a bit along the Park Avenue trail as 1. it gets you away from the crowd and 2. it provides excellent views of the surrounding monoliths and other interestingly formed geological marvels.

( On a side note, I’ve only got 2 more posts for Arches in the pipeline, after which i’ll be moving on to cover the Canyonlands – Death Valley- Joshua Tree- Salton Sea/Salvation Mountain –  Carlsbad Caverns part of the trip so…if you’ve only been hanging around for more Arches, er bad news I guess. If you’re happy to move on to other interesting places and eventually hear about those wacky adventures, hang tight.)

~m

The Magnificent Windows – Arches National Park, Utah

double arch in the morning light
The Windows, arches National Park
Turret Arch, Arches NP
Towards La Sal Mountains
The Magnificent Windows, Arches National Park
View out of North Window Arch


To be accurate, this section of the park is just called “The Windows”, but I felt it necessary to add the Magnificent in part because because I saw The Magnificent Seven in theaters right before we went on this roadtrip and also because there’s nothing short of magnificence here.

There’s something so compelling to me, something that just reaches inside my chest and tugs at places heretofore unknown when I look out across the landscapes laid out in this corner of Utah. Something so essential and almost ridiculous in it’s intensity that has me to the point of almost desperation. I was granted almost 5 whole minuets of solitude basking in the view out of the North Windows opening before yet another tour bus started unloading in the parking lot and it was almost enough to revel in the scene.

If I could offer just one tip to anyone visiting this section of the park, it would be this: arrive with a bag full of patience to be doled out while waiting to scamper up the rocks to see the view out of the opening of the windows. Early morning is best for almost every single part of the park, though sunrise will most likely find you surrounded by early bird tripod wielding photographers so, waiting till just after would maybe be just a tab better if all you want to do is enjoy the view. As this blog shows, I love photographing the places I visit but i’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, so I can let myself off the hook when it comes to capturing the best shots or having the right equipment (and i’ve yet to find a tripod that doesn’t frustrate me). That isn’t to say you won’t find me half dangling off a precarious perch just to get a better view- if the bf started his own blog i’m sure half of the post there would be titled “M tests her mortality and shaves five years off my life yet again” . 

what’s life without stupid risk though?
~m

Delicate Arch And Blanket Capes- Arches National Park, Utah

delicate arch, from viewpoint landscape at delicate arch viewpoint trail delicate arch at sunrise Delicate Arch viewpoint at sunrise

Sometimes i want adventure and sometimes I just want naps.

Case in point, a 330 am wake up call found me grumpy, cold and ready to call it quits almost as soon as we arrived back inside Arches NP. The hope was to catch some sufficiently dark night skies, as the last trip to accomplish this at Big Bend was very poorly timed (my fault for not researching beforehand) . This time….well, I can at the very least say they were almost the darkest skies i’ve ever seen, certainly the darkest i’ve ever seen since I took that ill-fated adventure down HWY 1 a couple of years ago that had me convinced i’d encounter Bigfoot. Possible cryptids aside however, the night sky at Arches was lovely and I enjoyed the chance to see stars twinkling merrily even as both me and the bf froze our butts off waiting for sunrise to near.

We picked Delicate Arch as our sunrise viewpoint, though I should point out we didn’t do the Delicate Arch trail, instead making our way up to the Upper Delicate Arch viewpoint. The actual trail is about 3 miles, rated as difficult and not particularly recommended after rainfall, whereas the upper viewpoint trail is just half a mile or so and only moderately difficult. Also, sunrise is much less crowded on either trail than at sunset when literally a hundred people might just be the low end of the estimate.

I’m gonna go ahead and suggest not doing either one of these trails whilst wrapping yourself up in a blanket that ends up fluttering behind you in a cape-like fashion…at least if you don’t want people staring at you like you’ve gone completely nuts. Usually, you would think I was the one that would do something like that…BUT, i’m somewhat proud to point out that I had both appropriate hiking books on and adequate layers to insulate me from the chilly morning. The bf however, did not. I honestly think i’m definitely rubbing off on him in the worst way.

The colors here are everywhere, the obvious reds and oranges slowly arriving with the sun’s rise while the greens, blues and purples in the sky become an almost perfect match for the gorgeously unexpected tones running through the landscape itself. I’d love to do the actual Delicate Arch trail one day, but cape or no cape, even this short hike was more than worth the view.

~m