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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Utah is brimming with unique geological wonders, many of which — including Utah’s famous Delicate Arch — are located in Arches National Park.
The park is home to more than 2,000 natural arches, the greatest concentration of natural arches on earth. It was this staggering concentration of natural wonders that first inspired then-President Herbert Hoover on April 12, 1929, to designate a portion of the area as Arches National Monument. It was later expanded by a number of Hoover's successors to include more natural treasures, including Utah’s most recognizable natural landmark, Delicate Arch, which was included in the park designation in 1938 by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, again using the antiquities act.
Delicate Arch is instantly recognizable for most people across the globe, whereas the much larger Double Arch may be most famous for its use in the opening sequence of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."
Double Arch is actually a rare pairing of two colossal arches, and the larger of the two is taller than a 10-story building. Of Arches National Park’s giant namesake attractions, Double Arch is likely the most accessible. Where some of the parks better-known landmarks like Delicate and Landscape Arches require hikes, which may prove difficult for some, the hike to Double Arch is short, mostly level and according to the park service, “may be wheelchair accessible with assistance.”
This accessibility makes the enjoyable half mile out-and-back walk ideal for just about everybody, including individuals and families with small children and/or physical limitations. Just remember to bring enough water. Even a short walk in summer temperatures can be demanding if you’re not prepared.
It is also good to plan ahead when deciding on a trip to Arches National Park because due to the park's ever-increasing popularity, it’s not uncommon to encounter large crowds at some of the more popular sites, including the extremely accessible Double Arch. Sometimes the park has early entrance closures during the peak season due to overcrowding.
With often large crowds, you may be asking yourself if it’s still worth visiting Arches and going to see the iconic Double Arch. There is a reason people keep flocking to the park even when facing the possibility of large crowds. Simply put — it’s spectacular.
Generally speaking, the crowds are still manageable, especially if you avoid visiting on free days and major holidays. If you do find yourself surrounded by a crowd, chances are still good that you’ll be more captivated by the scenery than the hordes of people. And sharing the experience with others will not only help you understand how much people from all over the world have come to love Utah’s natural treasures, it will also help you appreciate the kind of pressures our parks and lands now face and how much Utah's treasures need conscientious citizens who understand and cherish our state's unique beauty.
Whenever you plan your visit and regardless of how many people are present, make sure to do your part to preserve Arches’ unique treasures. Leave no marks of any kind, report vandalism if you witness it and stay on the trail. Signs are posted everywhere reminding you to refrain from leaving official trails in order to protect the park’s uniquely delicate soil, geology and vegetation.
When going on any hike, it's also a good idea to consider bringing a small trash bag so you can pick up garbage along the way.
What's your favorite hike in Arches National Park? Let us know in the comments.