Utah: Arches National Park – Delicate Arch and Windows Trail 5.4km + 1.8km

Prediction of rain in the southern Utah and northern Arizona regions for Friday. That is what Good Mrs and I had heard for days and that is what we counted on. And that is what we got. Not much, but some. Including cold temperatures and wind.

Hiking still beckoned despite forecasts of poor weather. There is short 4.8km hike to Delicate Arch inside of Arches National Park recommended to us as “a must”. So we took a punt that the rain would not come first thing in the morning and drove up there for an 8am start.

In the end, we followed up the hike to Delicate Arch with another even shorter 1.8km walk. To North Window and South Window on something called the… Windows Trail. This is how it all looked on the map.

Our motel is that formidable American institution called Super 8. Here is Good Mrs on her way to the car for our short drive from Moab to Arches National Park.

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National Park Week in the US runs from 16-24 April this year. That means free entry to all US national parks for that period. They started that week one day earlier in Arches National Park as there were nobody there collecting entry fees. Or we were too early at 7.30am and they hadn’t started work yet. A sign said “if unattended, pay at the next national park”. U.S. National Park Service will get extra funding from us before we return to Australia.

The hike to Delicate Arch commences at Wolfe Ranch parking area. A civil war veteran, John Wesley Wolfe, settled in this hostile environment by the end of the 1800:s. Wolfe and his family only lasted until 1910 before leaving, but his old hut and an adjacent barn are still there.

And here I am ready to rock’n roll. Well, not roll among all the rocks if I can help it.

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Behind Good Mrs below, the hike to Delicate Arch goes up along that hill. The path follows some small rock cairns.

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Great views even on an overcast morning. Rain threatened but it was still holding off.

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The Visitor’s Guide from National Park Service described the hike to Delicate Arch as “difficult”.

I can not agree with that. I would call the hike “medium” or “intermediate”. Yes, there is small elevation gain of 146 meters and yes, there is some exposure to heights. But Good Mrs and I have hiked many other trails in the U.S. which are truly difficult.

Still, you end up here. Quite a sight… Delicate Arch to the right. Obviously.

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If you walk forward from above and look back, this is what you see. I could see the popularity of the destination.

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Delicate Arch and me. Mini me.

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Good Mrs has a little bit of vertigo and she didn’t like the narrower stretches with the steep drops. Fair enough, the Visitor’s Guide did spell out “some exposure to heights”.

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Walking back down towards Wolfe Ranch parking area, it became obvious how insufficient the cairns system was. Fine in clear weather but 3 small rocks on top of each other would not do it in heavy rain or poor light.

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Back at the car for a cuppa and cinnamon roll while consulting the map. Time now is only 10am and a few sprinkles of rain meant that perhaps we can hike somewhere else.

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The Visitor’s Guide lists the Windows Trail as easy and we had recommendations to walk that one too. Short 1 mile hike that takes in the North Window and the South Window arches.

Not far to walk as you can see. That is North Window in the distance.

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A “selfie” in front of North Window.

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Me inside North Window, but this could be anywhere.

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The Windows Trail takes you around North and South Window in a loop back to the parking area. At the back of the Windows, we saw almost no-one. Funny what a short distance away from the comfortabilites you can go and be almost by yourself. Except that we found and chatted to a National Park intern, Kathy. Funny young girl who loved the outdoors a lot, soon on her way to Portland, OR.

Back in the car and on the way to exit Arches National Park, we made a final stop at “Balanced Rock”. Good Mrs suggested that I try to make the rock “unbalanced”. The proof: One of those crappy “straightening out the Pisa tower” photos. Pretty bad, hey?

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Soon, the rain started to come down and we drove back to the motel for lunch. Tomorrow, the weather forecast is “better” and then we try again. A bit longer hike this time.

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