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

Henry David Thoreau

Arches and Salt Valley

Wednesday September 3, 2014
Portal RV Park near
Arches National Park
Moab, Utah




It’s just dawn as we drive through the unmanned entrance gate onto the scenic drive.   We see arches in the skyline.

The sun colors the formations as it rises.









We turn off of the Scenic Drive onto the 2.5 mile spur to the Windows Section and arrive at the trailhead to find that there cars already in the parking area.  These people must have been out here in the dark to get here before we do. 

We also find that there are actually 4 arches here within a short distance of each other. The sign informs us that we can see the North and South windows and Turret arch with a relatively easy hike.  A longer and more difficult alternative is to return by the “primitive loop” around the back of the arches for a view of “the spectacles”.  The trail is less developed, climbs one hill and returns across the blackbrush flats.  Under ordinary circumstances, with all the time we want, we would definitely do that.  But not today.


We come first to the North Window.  I should say here that Windows are just Natural Arches that look like windows.  They are still arches.    I take some pictures with the people before us in them and wait until they are finished to get some of just the arch.  Patience is a virtue.  Although you can’t really get the idea of the enormous size of these without them.  For now, you’ll have to take my word for it.






How interesting that the colors of the arch and the rock formations behind it seen through its window are so different based on the morning light.

One of the residents not immortalized in bronze at the VC is also out early this morning.  He’s looking mighty fine hopping down the bunny trail.  My what big ears you have!  The better to hear you with my dear.  I just get a big kick out of jack rabbits having grown up with the little cotton tails.




Shadows are long as I turn to look at Turret Arch behind me.  My shadow is looking pretty frumpy this morning.  Better cut down on those chips and milk duds.




I walk on over to South window before heading closer to Turret.  On the way I look back at North Window for this interesting shot.  it’s all about the angle.   Now I’ve got 3 colors of stone.




The South window doesn’t have quite so many people swarming all around.  And they aren’t climbing up in it either.





Approaching the Turret we can see a new arch/window forming on the left.   The shadows are starting to cause problems.  That’s David walking up the stairs.   That’s me in the arch in the next picture.  How’s that for size??   Which angle is better?  The one with a background rock or the one with me just standing in the center?








I also find that when I crawl up inside the arch and look out, I can almost see the North and South Window spectacles framed through it.   VERY COOL!





From the back side of Turret Arch, I can also get some interesting angle shots.  Photographing these arches is fun.







The spectacles are even sharper from up on the turret arch but not behind it. 





As we leave Turret Arch I look back and wonder what I might see if I zoomed up on the baby window.



Look at what I see.   Do you see him?  







On to the other side of the parking lot to find Double Arch.  It’s out there some where.





I think we may have found it.







Double Arch is the 3rd largest arch in the park, 144 feet wide and 112 feet tall (44X34 meters for you Kevin and Ruth).  The smaller opening is 67 feet wide by 86 feet high (20X26 meters).  

This arch is the result of a pothole. They start as depressions near a cliff face.  Pools of water collect and slowly deepen the pothole.  Over time, water seeps through to the cliff face.  Eventually the enlarging pothole meets the roof of the expanding alcove creating an opening.  And there you have an arch. 

So guess who has to try to climb up there for a closer look?   Can you see him?  The early morning shadows are a real problem here.




Well yes I did follow him up and here’s the view out the back of double arch. 


And the view looking up.  The middle is getting pretty thin there.






We climb down from Double Arch and have Ruby take us further up the road. 

The audio guide tells us we can see a Cove of Caves from a trail marked on the side of the road.  We get out. We follow the trail and then it disappears.  We hike.  We see lovely vistas.  We climb up slick rock.  We cannot find these caves.












I don’t think so.




We give up and walk back to the car and then we see they are on the other side of the road and this trail is apparently to a viewpoint that isn’t nearly as good as the pull out.   Very unclear. But worth it just for the views going the wrong direction.





Apparently these caves have been used far back into the ancient past as shelters.  I suppose if they continue to weather they might turn into arches themselves.






We are now back on the main Scenic Drive road.  We are on our way to Delicate Arch when we are stopped in our tracks by the views all along the road of Salt Valley.  Just look at the colors.



Beneath the Salt Valley floor lies a thick layer of salt.  Formed by the evaporation of ancient oceans, the salt became thousands of feet deep.  Over the next 290 million years, this salt was buried by sand, silt and other sediments.  Under pressure the less dense salt rose into a dome, partially dissolved and then collapsed creating Salt Valley.


















I know enough all ready but I just can’t get over how amazing it is and how beautiful.   Wow is every other word out of my mouth.








Every direction has incredible views and colors.





So I’ll leave you with these incredible views of Salt Valley and show you Delicate Arch and an inspiring 82 year old RVer tomorrow.




  1. Fantastic drive! Such a beautiful place. Those jack rabbits always crack me up:)

  2. Great pictures and truly amazing colors. I found myself in that same 'wow' mode in Arches. It was a wonderful place to see & I highly recommend it.

  3. I just think it is wonderful that both of you are able to take these glorious hikes. I'm envious. :)

  4. The arches are breathtaking. And the landscape is so far outside my everyday experience.

    That jackrabbit looks inquisitive.

  5. Sherry thanks for letting us know what we have to look forward to in Arches NP. We just pulled into Moab today. Anxious to get out and explore.

  6. As you can tell, sherry, I am so far behind in reading blogs. We are finally back in the states so I am hoping to get caught up. Our only WiFi for the last four weeks has been in a local coffee shop so it was hard to get everything read. Our blog is so far behind.

    I went through your last four blogs. Even with ten days in Capital Reefs we never got to the Grand Wash. Your photos are wonderful. I love all the color and little hidden places. With all the Jeep trails and hiking trails it is hard to get it all in. We are thinking about maybe heading there in a couple weeks if the weather is still decent. If not, we will be there again in the spring. We also have friends that live there.

    So glad that you are getting to see some of Arches even if only for a few days. It sure is beautiful. I can tell how much you are enjoying it through your photos. I can hear the excitement in your voice:) We stayed at Portal, also. I love my comforts so we stayed in the resort section. As a matter of fact, we already have reservations for April! Thanks for the memories of how gorgeous Arches NP is from every angle!

  7. We totally enjoyed Arches as well. Full of wonder.

  8. Wow! I-wow-just-wow-can't-wow-get-wow-over-wow-your-wow-pictures! Just following your lead... ;c)

  9. Once again, your photos are beautiful. I can only imagine how spectacular it must be there, because I know that even great photos still don't do justice to scenery like that but you come pretty close. Both Kevin and I were brought up on both standard and metric measurements so you don't have to worry about the conversions with us but thanks anyways! :-)


  10. Arches never disappoints ... and they stayed true that in your blog. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  11. We just pulled into Moab today...and I am going to tell Marcia that all we have to do is read your blog and we don't need to go and see it again ourselves. lol --Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  12. So beautiful! I'm so happy that you discovered the gorgeous Salt Valley -- that's one of my favorite landscapes in Arches. I think people often overlook the beauty there because they're focused solely on the arches. p.s. Your comment about your shadow made me laugh out loud. :-)

  13. That picture of the small window with what looks like a person peering thru it is just flat out weird.... great pictures!!!

  14. Love the layers of colors and textures in your photos. Utah has some amazing National Parks.

  15. Beautiful shots, Sherry. Almost like being there in person! Loved 'em!

    Virtual hugs,


  16. The morning light on the landscape is amazing!! Your photos are wonderful and really makes one realize how small we really are in this world:o)) Keep having fun and sharing the beauty with us!!!

  17. So glad we get to see the beauty of a place we never made it to, through your eyes and narratives. Nice job capturing the beauty of the land!

  18. You look so small under the arches. I remember being there in May and the play of light and color. So massive some of them are or so tiny. I couldn't really see that one in your 'look what I see picture'. Lucky for the close up :) Beautiful salt valley-quite impressive vistas!

  19. In your seventh picture you can see the face in the North window quite clearly. It looks like a model for one of Jim Hansen's Muppet characters.
    The beauty of nature that you captured in your pictures makes us want to visit that region even more on our future travels.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  20. I just LOVE Arches! The variety of forms and colors just dazzles, doesn't it! I too can't stop saying "wow" as we make our way through the park. So, so glad you got to see this place!

  21. So nice to see pieces of Arches that I haven't visited. I often hit Moab, drive to Arches, do a couple of hikes and then bail and run because I am such a stinker about being around all those people. Your photos are great fun, and remind me of how often the best part of Canyon Country is trying to get the colors to show up right in a photo. Love it. Glad you at least got to see the place before heading east.

  22. Love, love, love the valley pics! The variety of colors is amazing. And the old man behind the window? How is that not the photo on all their brochures and posters?? Thought the rabbit in the second pic was on an old boot, but I think it's just an old rock :-) Love that you both climbed into the arch.

  23. Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories with your beautiful photos.

  24. When I'm done remodeling my kitchen I'll post pics, you'll recognize the prints I have framed on my kitchen wall, they're all from Arches and Canyonlands! I think about our short few days we spent there with longing at least once a week.

  25. Absolutely gorgeous. I never realized those arches were so large.

  26. wow, Wow, WOW!!! The formations, colors, textures and so much space. Love that shot of your tiny silhouette in the Turret but who was that guy looking over your shoulder behind the small arch?

  27. I Love the jack rabbits I all ways get a kick out of them. Really good pics of the arches we spent one day in the park about 5year ago can't wait to go back and make some hikes.

  28. Sherry, as always great photos and narratives. And yes I see the mans face on the Turret. And no you did not have enough chips and milk duds, ha ha .
    I noticed that Winona is now at Mammoth Cave NP!

  29. Awesome pictures. The one with the face behind the arch looks like David's face (at least the furthest one). It should be named the "David" arch . I really like that picture!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!