After my Cedar Mesa trip, I went up to Moab and saw my friend Joan. Joan was kind enough to help me out on my Utah trip, and it was good to catch up.
Being in Moab, and very much the off-season, it was a perfect time to return to Arches National Park. The bustling park is a place I avoid due to the crowds. And I have not been there since 2010.
Joan had some recent surgery, and though she suggested I hike off on my own, part of the stop in Moab was to see a friend. A day of walks and an easy hike was an excellent way to see this park. And being the off-season, seeing the park using this approach proved to be perfect.
We did a walk to Broken Bow Arch and had it nearly to ourselves on the cold January morning.
The snow, red rock, and reflected sunlight brought out aspects of the park typically not seen.
We then drove to the Windows trailhead. The lighting was a bit flat for compelling photos. But we did enjoy the walk in the area. And an impromptu lunch I cooked at the trailhead. I brewed up some hot drinks that hit the spot. And then made some chili, cheese, salsa, and tortillas that we rather enjoyed. Much to the amusement of people who came up to us and talked about our “gourmet” lunch in the parking lot.
We later did a hike in the Courthouse Wash. A little off the beaten path for this park, it was an enjoyable hike. And the Ring Arch on the hike proved to be a highlight.
After the arch, we made our way back to the car. The rock formations of this beautiful park were further appreciated. Appreciated in a way I would not be able to during prime season for this park.
We made it back to Joan’s house, and I planned for the next phase after Moab.
But I would first check out some nearby Barrier era pictographs (1500+ years old) known in what is called the Black Dragon Canyon.
These pictographs are reached easily enough via a short hike (about five miles total of hiking in the area) at a canyon off the Interstate. The pictographs are unique and this style of pictograph, besides being very old, is otherworldly in appearance.
The namesake pictograph of the canyon does indeed look like a dragon. Very faded at this point, it is a pictograph I have not seen before.
I scrambled up above these pictographs and had an excellent view of the canyon.
A very large cave was found on the canyon wall. I explored it a bit and enjoyed the quiet of this natural feature.
After scrambling down, I looked at a much more recent panel. A panel full of color and had much to see even with the modern graffiti mixed with the older drawings.
I hiked a bit more and saw what was around the bend.
After a little bit more hiking, I drove back to Moab and confirmed that the government shutdown was imminent. And would now need to decide how the rest of the trip would go due to the latest news. As of this writing, looks like the parks will be open up on a limited basis. BLM and USFS land will be less affected, of course. So I just may camp in those areas and enter the parks during the day. And the state parks beckon of course.
I am writing this post from some friends’ home who work at Zion National Park. We’ll see what happens. Flexibility has served me well on this trip so far. And with the latest news, we’ll see what happens next.
Glad you enjoyed Arches and that it worked out to do a leisurely day. Visiting in January and following washes like we did provides a good way to avoid crowds. Sure did get to meet the friendly people during the parking-lot picnic, too.