Arches National Park, Part 2: Devil’s Garden, Tower Arch, and Landscape Arch. Or, Those Dogs Look Like Pigs.
We started the next day at Devil’s Garden, the 7+ mile loop trail that includes 8 arches and a 150 foot spire. Relatively flat at first, the trail gets interesting after passing Landscape Arch, leading hikers up, over, and across fins.
Fins are essentially the result of the solid sandstone cracking due to geologic forces followed by extreme water erosion that enlarges these cracks into huge vertical breaks. Eventually, the water wears through the fins as well, creating arches. In any case, the result is a scrambling bonanza.
I had gotten a taste of climbing them before at Needles but this trail lead into the dense core of fins, uninterrupted for miles by other formations. It was exhilarating to walk/scramble/climb up the sloped rock until you suddenly found yourself at its height. It was equally fun to walk on the sandy wash between the towering giants, with only rock to see.
But of course there were the arches too. My favorite was Navajo Arch because the fins formed a sort a cave behind it. But really, they were all spectacular. I’m not sure I actually like them better than fins though.
We then drove out on the dirt Salt Valley Road to the Tower Arch Trail, which involves some scrambling up a mesa and circumventing a large fin formation. Tower Arch is almost hidden in a cluster of fins, more so because the trail approaches from the side. It’s a really nice hike in general though, particularly because you get to 360 degree view of the surrounding rock formations as you cross the mesa.
After hiking back down and doing some serious rehydrating and cooling off, we did the short stroll out to Sand Dune Arch before driving over to Delicate Arch, where we walked to the two viewpoints before mustering up the drive to hike out. Hiking all day in the Utah desert sun is no joke; I am not ashamed to say that the 12 miles I had already hiked that day made me tired. The three mile trail to Delicate Arch is also exposed and involves some elevation gain. But we went, of course. The arch is lovely, standing alone, overlooking the painted valley below. On the way out, the trail passes some a really well-defined Ute petroglyph panel as a bonus.
An interesting conclusion to the day: as we were driving to our campsite around dusk there were two dogs walking around the bridge in front of us. I remarked how they looked like pigs but no sooner had the words left my mouth than we had gotten close enough to see that they were in fact pigs. Looks like there was a breakout staged at the nearby farm.