Canyon Craziness - Page 2
|Through the Looking Glass: Delicate Arch in Arches National Park (PhotoDisc)|
Day 2: Canyonlands to Arches National Park (38 Miles)
The name says it all. Arches National Park (435.719.2299; www.nps.gov/arch/) contains the highest density of natural arches in the world, some 2,000 sculpted by millions of years of wind, rain, erosion, and other forces of geology, time, and nature. You can drive on paved road past many of the popular natural features, combining short hikes with a road tour. It takes about four-and-a-half hours to drive all of the park's paved roads, allowing for ten minutes at each viewpoint. Allow longer to walk beneath North Window and Double Arch. The park has dozens of hiking trails for all abilities. The trail to Landscape Arch—which has a span longer than a football field—is two miles roundtrip. It takes two to three hours to trek 3.4 miles roundtrip on the moderately difficult trail to Tower Arch, and while the trail to Delicate Arch is shorter, it's also steeper. Junior Ranger activities here are for ages six to 12. Devil's Garden Campground, open year-round, has reserved and first-come, first-served sites starting each day at 7:30 a.m.
Day 3: Arches to Capitol Reef National Park (145 Miles)
Capitol Reef National Park (435-425-3791 x111; www.nps.gov/care) preserves and protects a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the earth's crust known as the Waterpocket Fold. Capitol Reef has excellent day and backcountry hiking, including Cohab Canyon Trail (moderate), Capitol Gorge Trail (easy, with sheer canyon walls rising from the trail), and Goosenecks Trail (easy, with views of Sulphur Creek Canyon). Navajo Knobs is a strenuous 4.5-mile trail (one way), with a steep climb and a worth-it-all 360-degree panorama. Interestingly, Capitol Reef also has—and protects—historic orchards with some 2,700 fruit and nut trees. Visitors are welcome to stroll in the orchards and enjoy as much fruit as they like while there (no tree climbing allowed). Kids can become Junior Rangers or Junior Geologists; borrow a Family Fun Pack at the Visitor Center (435.425.3791 ext. 111). The Fruita Campground is the only developed campground; it accommodates tents and RVs and often fills by early afternoon, so consider setting up camp before exploring the park.