Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

An evening of Balance and Fire

Thursday September 4th 2014
Portal RV Park near
Arches National Park
Moab, Utah






After our  morning of A Variety of Arches, we spend the afternoon in the cool of the AC while it reaches 94 degrees outside.  After dinner, we go back out to visit what our Audio Tour calls Landscapes on the Land.  These include:

- The Three gossips and Sheeps Rock.   I guess they are gossiping to the rock.  I’d sure like to hear their millennia of stories.






- The Tower of Babel.   As I recall the name originated with the Old Testament when in Genesis the people post flood all spoke the same language and came together to build a city and a tower to the heavens but apparently God didn’t like this so he “confounded their language” so no one could understand the other.   I always thought this was quite odd.  But the rock formation namesake is quite formidable.  It’s enormous.  Actually on the left part of this formation is the Tower of Babel, the right part is called The Organ.  I wish there was some history on who named these arches and formations and when.




It seems like there is no time at all between when it finally cools off and the the sun is dropping in the sky making beautiful colors, lights and shadows.  In one direction it looks like it might rain.






We stop at Courthouse Towers.  I want to see the end of the Park Avenue Trail.  We didn’t “quite” get there last night as it was getting dark.  We could see the towers, we were close.  But I want to see the end of the trail close up.






Just a bit further down the drive we cross the bridge across Courthouse Wash. This is another trail we won’t have time to hike but I’d love to. It’s 5.5 miles one way which means a shuttle would be nice. Not sure if it would be possible to park at one end and bike back to the car from the other. We’ve done that several times when a 5.5 sounded better than an 11 mile hike. The route is easy hiking along a sandy wash. IF there is water, you’d be hiking in it which would be fun as long as it isn’t too deep and no danger of flash flood. I’d actually rather hike in water than sand.





We go down the trail just a short way to get a taste of the trail which today is mostly sandy with a tiny stream but it looks like water has been here very recently. Sure wish we didn’t have to come back. Lots of flowers. Looks like a neat hike.

















We haven’t even gotten to the two things we really wanted to see this evening so we must get along on our way.  Darn!  I hate having a time constraint.

The skies and light continue to be wonderful.   Things are glowing!










Here’s one thing I want to see up close.   Do you see it there in the group under this great cloud? 










It’s Balanced Rock.  We’ve been to several parks that have a balanced rock but this one is really something.  The caprock of hard slick rock is Entrada Sandstone.  The pedestal of mudstone is Dewey Bridge Carmel Formation and weathers more quickly than the resistant rock above it.  Eventually this will cause the collapse of Balanced Rock.  But today it is amazing and HUGE. 

The rock is 55 feet high and weighs 3,500 TONS.  Remember a ton is 2000 pounds. That’s 7,000,000 pounds.  Boy I hope nobody is near there when that thing rolls off.  Looks a bit precarious now doesn’t it.   But we walk all the way around it being just in awe of its size.






Looks a little safer from the side   



I know, it’s tonight’s excessive picture section.  But how does it look from this angle?  



Or this one?





Yes we do leave it still sitting up there and are now on route to this evening’s second attraction, the Fiery Furnace.   Along the way we stop for some shots of the elusive La Sal Mountains.  We’ve been trying to be able to get pictures of Utah’s second highest mountains and the backdrop for Moab each day we’ve been here but it hasn’t been clear enough until now.  They are pretty impressive.  The range contains 9 peaks that are above 12,000 feet. 








Unfortunately we make it only as far as the parking lot by the time the sun begins putting on its show.  We really wanted to be at the Fiery Furnace over look to see the furnace turn to fire so David says we have to come back tomorrow.






The Fiery Furnace is a mazelike Labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons.  To enter the area, visitors must accompany a ranger guided hike or obtain a hiking permit at the visitor center.  There is no trail so you need to be  excellent at orienteering if you dare go alone.  Just another thing I want to do, the ranger hike that is.  It is offered daily, spring through fall.  It’s a 3 hour hike that winds through terrain that requires scrambling up and throw narrow cracks and along narrow ledges above drop-offs.  Walks are limited to 25 people and typically fill weeks in advance so we couldn’t have done it this time anyway.

We don’t make it in time to see the sun set rays set the furnace aglow, but we do get some of the after glow and that’s pretty spectacular in itself.










Tomorrow we’ll be driving over to spend one quick day in Canyonlands.  Far far less than we had intended or it deserves.  So I suspect the Fire in the Furnace will have to wait until Friday, our last day at Arches National Park.


  1. We thought the ranger tour through the fiery furnace sounded cool as well, and asked about signing up for it while we were there. Ranger told me the tour was sold out through the summer now that you can reserve online. Bummer.

  2. That is one beautiful, beautiful place. Awesome pictures!

  3. I really love the glow of the afternoon sun. . .really brings everything to life. . .really great pics today!

  4. I'm envious. It's such a magnificent landscape, and your photographs are a wonder!

  5. Another Spectacular Day!!! Sherry your photos just get better and better...they really are SPECTACULAR!!!

  6. Too bad you didn't get to do the Fiery Furnace hike. It was great fun. Your photos are superb!

  7. Okay, how did they weigh Balanced Rock? And who lifted it onto a scale and then put it back? ;c)

    Actually, I found the pictures quite interesting. Hope it lasts up there a long, long (long) time!

  8. Another place that you just have to scratch your head and wonder how those rocks keep from tipping over. Beautiful shots!

  9. Absolutely stunning colors and all the different shapes of the rocks are so cool! Love the flowers too. What a gorgeous place! xxxooo

  10. Nice to see balanced rock is still alive and well.

  11. I love that the Balancing Rock looks so different from each side. Great shots of all sides.

    On your next visit you must do the Fiery Furnace hike with the ranger. It was awesome and not easy at times. There are NO trail markings at all back there. I can't imagine going it without a guide. We got in on two cancellations.

    You are doing a super job seeing the area on shortened visit:) Your photos of the red rocks against the dark sky are wonderful.

  12. Your photos from this day are especially wonderful -- fiery gold rocks and beautiful cloud formations -- you captured the best of Arches! In all the times we've been to Arches we've never done the Fiery Furnace hike -- although I think we've done just about everything else several times. I think it's time we do Fiery Furnace -- it would be so much fun to hike it with you two.

  13. Now you've got me wanting to be a Ranger at Arches. Love the formations and the contrast of the La Sal Mts.

  14. That balanced rock will make quite a crater when it topples! Beautiful formations and colors. I remember being there. The mountains were allusive then too. Glad you got a view. Fiery Furnace is amazing at sunset. I wish I had done the walk.

  15. Great photos in the evening light. We were not able to do fiery furnace trail either. It is on our list when we get back to Moab one day.

  16. Those pictures are amazing. That's another amazing area. I hope to be able to go there one day.

    There is a guy here at craft shows that is an excellent photographer. He has his pictures made up to look like a canvas painting, and then he sells them. I've been looking at my pictures trying to find one good enough to have made into a canvas and to hang in the motorhome. Your pictures here would make wonderful canvas pictures. They aren't really that expensive to have done. Sorry to see that you are back in Charlotesville. I know you would prefer to have stayed out west longer.

  17. Those are some fabulous photos! 90's during the day is no fun, thank goodness the evenings are reasonable!

  18. Like Landscape Arch, that Balanced Rock looks like it could fall tomorrow - thanks for capturing it from so many angles just in case :-) The photos of the La Sals look like two different planets! What a stunning contrast in that light. Wonderful to find flowers out there - so delicate for such a harsh environment. While not your usual pace, you're certainly seeing (saw) some wonderful places that most people only dream of - or visit in blogs :-) Thanks again for sharing all the wonder.

  19. Sherry we wanted to do the Fiery Furnace walk with the ranger as well. When I first looked at Arches NP about a month ago there were still a few slots available. Of course I thought, I'll just wait until we get to the park. Bad decision. The walk is TOTALLY booked until the end of the tour season Oct. 20th. Just a reason to visit again, I guess.

  20. All photos are absolutely gorgeous! There is no such thing as excessive pictures with different angles. That is a different kind of balanced rock, really cool. There is no doubt this is another state we will spend a whole month. Your walks are just so enticing, thank you for sharing, Sherry.

  21. Haven't done the Fiery Furnace yet, one of these days. Absolutely love the pictures as we try to figure out how soon we can get back there.

  22. Once again, love the pictures.... are u home now? Based on where is Winona now....

  23. You got some great light on your little tour! Made me want to be there. Tell me you went back in and looked at the stars after dark...we did and it was AMAZING.


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