Tag Archives: Day Hike

Arches National Park: Delicate Arch

Late afternoon on Sunday, February 13 [2022], we capped our time at Arches National Park with the hike to Delicate Arch, one of the iconic views in the entire National Park system. Strategically, we decided to do the hike not only on Superbowl Sunday, but actually during the playing of the game. It was a smart move. We had gorgeous late afternoon light and there were only about a dozen folks there with us.

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Arches National Park: Devils Garden Trail

Landscape Arch

On Sunday, February 13 [2022], we spent the second of our two days in Arches National Park. We centered the day around two celebrated hikes: Devils Garden and Delicate Arch. Devils Garden Trail is a loop route twisting through a broken landscape at the end of the Park Road. In some portions it is a broad path. In other sections it involves scrambling over slickrock. The complete hike with all side trails to see arches and other formations is a solid 7.8 miles.

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Arches National Park: Park Avenue, Double Arch, and After

Park Avenue

By early afternoon of Saturday, February 12 [2022], we were halfway through our first of two days exploring Arches National Park. Already we’d gotten in a solid two-hour hike and checked out some of the famous roadside formations. We knew that we would be doing the longer hike at Devils Garden the next day. And our plan for the extremely popular Delicate Arch hike was to go at the end of the day on Sunday, during the Superbowl. So for the rest of that Saturday afternoon, we decided to check out the Visitor Center and more short hikes and formations along the Park Road. But first lunch.

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Arches National Park: Tower Arch Trail

On the morning of Saturday, February 12 [2022], we decided to do our first real hike at Arches National Park, an out-and-back to Tower Arch. The sandy, sometimes steep hike is a very scenic 3.4-miles ending at an arch that spans an impressive ninety-two feet. Tower Arch is one of the most remote large arches in the Park, so getting over to the trailhead was fun too.

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Great Sand Dunes National Park on the Way Home

On Saturday, November 20 [2021], I departed Taos, headed ultimately home to Chicago. By the time I reached home the following Tuesday (two days before Thanksgiving), I had passed through Denver and Kansas City. But before that, I couldn’t resist stopping for a short hike at Great Sand Dunes National Park. After all, it was only an hour and forty-five minutes from Taos. And it was on the way. Sort of. It would be the first time I ever visited a National Park by myself.

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Detour: Petroglyph National Monument

Established in 1990 and co-administered by the National Park Service and the City of Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument protects 7,236 acres of West Mesa west of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Rio Grande. One of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in North America, more than 20,000 petroglyphs dating as far back as 5,000 years are found in the Monument.

On Tuesday, November 16 [2021], Sean and I visited the Monument’s Boca Negra Canyon area for a morning of exploration before he flew home to Chicago.

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Detour: Bandelier National Monument

Established in 1916, Bandelier National Monument protects 33,677 acres of the Pajarito Plateau on the southern slopes of the volcanic Jemez mountains, located west of the Rio Grande Valley and Santa Fe in northern New Mexico. Over twenty-three thousand acres of the Monument are federally protected wilderness. But the heart of Bandelier is the thousands of Ancestral Puebloan sites scattered across the plateau and its steep canyons. Among these, the many sites in Frijoles Canyon are the most famous and dramatic. The hub of visitation in Bandalier, this canyon was where Sean and I headed for our all-too-short visit to the Monument on November 13 [2021].

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White Sands National Park: Dune Life Nature Trail

On the afternoon of November 12 [2021], my birthday, Sean and I continued to explore White Sands National Park. After our hike on the Park’s longest marked trail, we wanted to see two of its other, much shorter interpretive hikes/walks in the transition areas between desert, grassland, and dunes.

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White Sands National Park: Alkali Flat Trail

White Sands National Park protects 145,762 acres of soft gypsum sand dunes and adjacent Chihuahuan Desert transition zones in the Tularosa Basin of southern New Mexico. It was first protected as a National Monument in January 1933 in the waning days of the Hoover administration. On December 20, 2019, congress upgraded it to a National Park, increasing its total area by some 2,000 acres and making it the sixty-second of sixty-three National Parks.

Earlier plans to consider expanding the monument were ultimately subsumed into the Tularosa Basin’s military use and legacy. The Park is surrounded by White Sands Missile Range and is adjacent to Holloman Air Force Base. The Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945, is about sixty miles from White Sands National Park in the northern part of the Tularosa Basin.

The deep time legacy of the place was underscored in September 2021 when researchers announced the discovery of 23,000-year-old human footprints in the Park, hard evidence that not only had humans arrived in the Americas earlier than standard textbooks claim, but they had pushed far into the interior of North America some 10,000 years earlier than the 13,000-years-ago date that had until recently been accepted by mainstream archaeology.

Truly, White Sands is a special place.

For my forty-third birthday on November 12, 2021, Sean and I spent the whole day exploring the Park, the third birthday I’ve now spent in the Chihuahuan Desert.

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