The peaceful high desert terrain of central Utah is one of the prettiest places in the world and it is also one of the most desolate. The view from the high speed interstate highway is nice, but the two lane side roads offer a much better touring experience. It was late afternoon when I crossed the Utah border, so I figured that it would be worthwhile to meander off the freeway, just to take a little sunset cruise through Arches National Park!
I finally got to Arches National Park less than an hour before sunset and the line off traffic coming out of the park was much longer than for those waiting to get in. After mentioning my sunset cruise intentions to the park ranger at the gatehouse, she decided to let me in free of charge, since I was not doing an overnight campout. After the ranger handed me the park road map, my sunset cruise through the majestic Arches landscape was underway!
Realizing that time was limited before darkness set in, I gave up on the thought of covering this park in its entirety. I simply focused on taking a few photos of the scenery along the first few miles of park road as the sun slowly sets. A sunset does last a while out here in the crystal clear air of the high desert and there are many dramatic visual effects that can be captured in the vast expanse of gigantic rock formations in Arches National Park.
The boldness of light and shadow at sunset does create intriguing effects that are difficult to describe. It is as if some of the rock formations come to life as they become dark silhouettes standing in front of the deep blue sky. Rock pillars start to look almost human and some of the billowing rock towers resemble prehistoric monsters. The setting sun also illuminates the solitary sandstone formations with vivid golden orange colors, which look almost artificial at times. To sum it all up, sunset definitely brings this majestic place to life!
Arches National Park covers a huge expanse of land and it is one of the most often visited parks in America. Most of the scenic destinations in this park can be accessed by car, but finding a parking spot does require some patience. There are plenty of scenic overlooks along the roadside and the hiking trailheads are easy to spot. There are several campgrounds to choose from, but making a reservation ahead of time is nearly always necessary.
The best way to fully experience Arches National Park is to get there early in the day and hike the trails that lead to the numerous natural stone arches and mesmerizing rock formations. Most of this park can be experienced in one day, but spending a few days camping onsite will result in a more relaxed pace. After visiting Arches, there is plenty more to see and do in the Moab region of Utah. The Colorado Riverway Recreation Area, Canyon Rims Recreation Area, Castle Valley and Canyonlands National Park are all right next door, so an extensive vacation can be planned for this region alone.
The sunset cruise through a small section of Arches National Park was nothing more than a primer, yet the views do provide an idea of what this destination is all about. If you happen to be passing by at this time of day, doing the sunset cruise through Arches is well worthwhile and this short side trip will certainly breakup the monotonous drive on the freeway. Sunset photos are as intriguing as can be at Arches National Park, so this is reason enough to get up and go!
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