Tuesday, May 31, 2005
When last we left our heroes, I had gotten up at dawn to photograph the overlook at Dead Horse Point State Park:
After the sun got up into the sky a little and I got tired of taking pictures, I drove back to the campsite and found Timmy already awake. In case I didn’t make this clear before, it gets pretty cold at night in the high desert (Dead Horse is at around 6,000 feet of elevation). During the day, the sun was quite hot, even though I’m not sure the air temperature broke 80 during our stay. At night, though, the air temperature gets down into the 40s and it’s pretty brisk. I was surprised to have to bundle up in the morning and at night to stay warm.
Timmy and I hung around in patches of sunlight as the sun came up, until Buck got out of bed and we had some breakfast. We had originally planned to pull up camp and move to Arches National Park, but it was enough of a pain to get our tents set up that we thought better of this plan and decided to see if we could just remain in the Dead Horse Point campground. The visitor center told us that we could have the first non-reservable spot that opened up, but that none were available. So we decided to kill some time and hike around the park for a bit.
Boy, am I glad we did! We took a trail that ran along the edge of the canyon that Dead Horse Point juts out into. This let us get right up next to some heart-stopping drops and sweeping scenery, and for our entire 90-minute or so hike, we didn’t see a single other human being. And this was on a Sunday!
We all agreed that Dead Horse might be superior to the Grand Canyon: the scenery was comparably stunning, but it was a great advantage to feel like you had the whole desolate area to yourself.
After our hike, we checked back in at the visitor center and were told that a site had opened up, but that the site we were on had been reserved for that evening. So we went back to our campsite, pulled up the tent stakes, and carried our tents over to the (nearby) new site. Since this involved walking through the campsite carrying fully-erected tents, we got a variety of bemused comments from other park residents!
Once we had gotten our stuff set up again, we took off for nearby Arches National Park. Arches’ claim to fame, of course, is its abundance of arch-shaped rock formations:
We drove straight to the end of the park and took the Devil’s Garden trail, which goes past several of the most noteworthy arches. The trail was a zoo, with the usual herds of thundering German tourists. I understand that the prevailing theory on why there are so many German tourists in the national parks of the southwest is that Germans are attracted to the cowboy aesthetic, for some reason.
As we got some distance along the trail, the crowd started to thin out. Timmy and Buck went scrambling up some slickrock faces, and we got to see lots of cool arches:
OK, I guess that last one was sort of a tunnel. But they still called it an arch for some reason.
The Devils Garden trail ends at the Double O Arch, shown above. Then you can either backtrack or take a rougher trail back along a different route. I was getting a little fed up of scrambling over slickrock at this point, so I backtracked on the main trail while Timmy and Buck took the primitive loop back. We met up back at the trailhead.