Book Lodging

Day Trip to Arches National Park

Sunday • March 29, 2015

While I hate to miss spring skiing, I decided to take one day off for a day trip to Moab, Utah and Arches National Park.  Located a little over 3 hours from Telluride, it feels like a different world.

The last time I was at Arches was nearly 40 years ago.  Back then, the park was a secret gem.  Clearly, the secret is out.  I arrived a bit after 9am, and the line of cars waiting to get into Arches already stretched a quarter mile.  That said, the line progressed fast, and it never felt overly crowed in the park. 

My first destination was Delicate Arch, which I had heard was often crowded.  Indeed, the two small parking lots were jammed, but there was plenty of parking along the road.  When I arrived there, it was still cool – in the 60’s.  So I made the classic mistake of forgetting to put on sunscreen and neglecting to carry water.  To make matters worse, I didn’t bother to put on hiking shoes.   I guess I should have read the guide before heading out for a hike.

As the guide says, it is a relatively strenuous hike to get to Delicate Arch.  I say relatively, because relative to other trails in the park, it was strenuous.  However, it’s definitely more of a workout to hike Jud Wiebe back in Telluride.  The trail is  a 3 mile round trip with 480 feet of elevation gain.  While most of the people around me were huffing and puffing due to the altitude, the highest point is just around 5,000 feet, which is well below Telluride.

I definitely feel that visiting Delicate Arch was worth the effort, but next time I’ll go either at sunrise or sunset.  Then it would be spectacular. 

After returning to the Jeep, putting on sunscreen and drinking water, I was off to my next stop, the Fiery Furnace.  This was a short stop to view some interesting rock formations.  I wanted to go down into the “furnace”, but a hiking permit was required – another thing to remember when coming back.

From there I drove to up to Sand Dune, Broken, and Skyline Arches.  All are easily accessible from short, easy hikes.  On the way out, I visited Double Arch and the Windows.  My attempt to see Tower Arch was aborted when I ran into a section of the 4x4 trail, which looked sketchy.  I was confident that the Jeep could make it over the section ahead, but there was no way to know how challenging the road would be after that.  Again, with a little advance planning, I might be able to make it through next time.

In total, I spent roughly 6 hours at the park.  I would have stayed longer, but I was starved.  As far as I could tell, there’s not food offered in the park.  So, be sure to bring some along.  Fortunately, once you leave the park, Moab is a short drive away.

By the time I reached Moab, it was 87 degrees.  As you might guess, it gets incredibly hot in the summer.   Fall and spring are excellent times to visit Aches and the neighboring Canyonlands National Park.  Best of all, it’s a reasonable distance from Telluride.  After getting something to eat, I had plenty of time to get back to Telluride to see Cold War Kids at the conference center.