Tag Archives: Utah

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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Arches National Park: Balancing Out on the Colorado Plateau

Balanced Rock

Our long weekend on the Colorado Plateau began on Friday, February 11 [2022] after a very busy week. I would have a little trouble keeping Bold Bison work at bay until the weekend properly started (in Pacific time because of some cool projects we had in the works). We’d also had a later-than-usual night the previous evening with dinner out and a program of Barber, Rachmaninoff, and Elgar at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But even with some distractions, it felt great to be going on a trip!

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Arches National Park: Planning

La Sal Mountains from Arches National Park

Arches National Park was established as a National Monument in 1929 and upgraded to National Park status on November 12 (my birthday), 1971. It protects 76,679 acres of the Colorado Plateau in eastern Utah just north of the town of Moab. It also protects the highest concentration of natural arches on the planet. Over 2,000 arches with an opening of at least three feet exist in the Park. With over one and a half million annual visitors, the Park is quite popular (sixteenth among the sixty-three National Parks). It is, therefore, often quite crowded. So we always knew we wanted to be a bit strategic about when we visited. It turns out that an unhappy circumstance ended up offering us a great opportunity.

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Dinosaur National Monument: Road’s End

Split Mountain

Our 2021 roadtrip to Colorado (and Utah) was sixteen full days and fifteen nights on the road. For a National Parks trip that was somewhat born of circumstance—buying a car, strategizing a post-lockdown COVID-era trip—this trip would have a huge influence on the year to come, both for Sean’s and my Park trips and for the shape of Bold Bison’s business travel. It has also reoriented us—or me—a bit to thinking about the continent. Our first taste of the Ancestral Puebloan world at Mesa Verde would inspire Sean and me to visit four more Ancestral Puebloan sites in the year to come, culminating in a May 2022 sojourn to Chaco Canyon. I would return to Great Sand Dunes National Park by myself—solidifying my infatuation with the San Luis Valley and the Sangre de Cristos—only a little over two months after this trip. We would return to Denver twice more. And flirting with the Colorado Plateau would lead to a February 2022 trip to Arches National Park (and a planed return to Moab in 2023).

But all that is to come. First, it’s time to wrap up this adventure.

We ended our time in Dinosaur National Monument on the afternoon of Friday, September 3 (2021) and began a holiday weekend journey home to Chicago that was itself an adventure. But first we had one more hike—stroll really—out at the end of Cub Creek Road before breaking camp and heading out.

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Dinosaur National Monument: Petroglyphs

Fremont Petroglyph

The Fremont People lived in what is now Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Nevada for roughly the 1,000 years from 300 to 1,300. Unlike their contemporaries and neighbors, the Ancestral Puebloans in the Four Corners region (and later along the Rio Grande), the Fremont did not build permanent architecture like pueblos and cliff dwellings. Their villages were more ephemeral, and much of what we know about them comes from the tools and the art they left behind. The art, in the form of striking pictographs and petroglyphs, is often sublime.

On Friday, September 3 (2021), we knew that, one way or another, we’d have to be leaving Dinosaur National Monument early. But we didn’t want to go without seeing the grand Fremont petroglyphs near the campground.

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Dinosaur National Monument: Above Echo Park

Echo Park

After our morning visiting the Dinosaur Quarry and early afternoon checking out the paved portion of Cub Creek Road, we spent the remainder of the afternoon of Thursday, September 2 (2021) driving into the center of Dinosaur National Monument’s canyon country, just across the state line in Colorado. Our ultimate destination was the hike out to Harpers Corner, high above the Green River near its confluence with the Yampa River.

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Dinosaur National Monument: Welcome to Jurassic Park


I have long wanted to visit Dinosaur National Monument.

The Monument, straddling the Colorado-Utah border, should be a National Park. By any conceivable metric, it more than deserves such a designation. At 210,844 acres, it is larger than thirty-one of the sixty-three Parks (larger than Shenandoah, Zion, Redwood, and Arches). Far more importantly, though, it contains three fundamental reasons for existing—any of which would warrant Park status—that make it important to history, science, and conservation. First, the Monument contains a world-important deposit of Jurassic-era dinosaurs: Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, Allosaurus. Specimens from major museums across North America came from here. Second, the Monument protects important cultural sites, including many pictographs and petroglyphs made by the Fremont peoples one thousand years ago. And finally, there is the landscape itself. Here, the Green and Yampa Rivers cut through the eastern edge of the Uinta Mountains, creating a dramatic canyon country of more varied hues than the redrock landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands to the south.

When President Woodrow Wilson declared the establishment of Dinosaur National Monument in 1915, he only set aside the eighty acres comprising and surrounding the Dinosaur Quarry just north of Jensen, Utah. It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who in 1938 expanded the Monument to its present size by protecting the Green and the Yampa in their entire courses through the Uinta Mountains. FDR’s designation was crucial nearly twenty years later as conservationists successfully fought a scheme to dam the rivers at their confluence at Echo Park. This historic win bookended the fight forty years earlier to save Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park from becoming a reservoir. In both debates, the American public was asked to grapple with the question, “What is the point of protecting a landscape as a National Park or Monument if it can be destroyed by dams or resource extraction?” While Yosemite lost, Dinosaur won. And the win at Echo Park would help to protect Grand Canyon National Park in the 1960s from a long-simmering scheme to dam the Colorado River within the National Park.

Perhaps it’s lingering resentment over Echo Park. It could be local resistance in Utah to public lands protection (even as the state campaigns for and receives millions in tourist dollars from visitors to its existing Parks). It could simply be its remoteness. Whatever the reason, Dinosaur has never been upgraded by Congress despite being for decades on short lists of NPS units most likely to become National Parks.

Congress notwithstanding, Sean and I chose to treat Dinosaur as an unofficial 64th Park, both in how we approached it in the trip and in how I am treating it here on the site.

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