When Arches Isn’t About Arches— plus Strange Times

Impressive pinnacles with ‘unique’ personalities are found throughout Arches National Park.

Outer Banks, North Carolina: We have been on the road for a month now— zig zagging across the country— climbing over mountains, crossing rivers, traveling through deserts and forests, zipping through urban areas and moving more slowly through rural. We’ve traveled from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic and driven through 13 states so far.

Let me report: It’s strange out there when it comes to the pandemic. Some states are doing everything possible to reduce the the number of people catching Covid-19 and the resultant deaths. Others are like, whatever. Or they feel that restarting the economy takes precedence. Sadly, had they aggressively fought the pandemic to start with, we would now be in a much better position to get people back to work.

We drove through Atlanta a few days ago where the governor of the state was suing the mayor of the city because she wanted to implement a city-wide mask ordinance. Thankfully, more and more people are voluntarily wearing face coverings. Even the President is declaring it patriotic. My sense is if wearing a mask can save just one life, it’s worth it.

It isn’t strange, however, that Arches National Park has a lot more than arches to ooh and aww over. In fact, I find the fins and pinnacles located throughout the park equally awe-inspiring. I’ll provide some of my favorite examples over the next two to three posts. My last post on the park will be dedicated to arches.

This is a close up of the pinnacle I featured at the top of the post.
And this knobby guy— with my help— provides a perspective of just how large the pinnacles can get. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A different view.
These would-be/will-be pinnacles are known as the Three Gossips.
A different perspective suggests that one of the gossips might have dinosaur blood. Gossiping about it might lead to getting your head chomped off.
This is one of the views that greets you when you when you enter the park. If you look to the right, you can see a precariously balanced rock.
I think it is more impressive than Balanced Rock if only judged on its odds of teetering over. But who knows? Maybe it will hang out up there for another thousand years. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This is another view that welcomes visitors to the park.
This fin is known as Wall Street. In other words, some person at some time thought that these eroded rocks had a skyscraper look.
Here’s another view of Wall Street
Most of the major landmarks have names given to them over the years. I find it more fun to look at them for the impressive monuments to nature and geology that they are.
Or provide your own names. Peggy saw this as The Hand.
Here, she demonstrates why.
Here’s one I can easily see, the Sheep. Its nose was once part of an arch. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
We found this interesting. “Petrified” sand dunes frozen through chemical reactions in ancient times. The La Sal Mountains serve as a colorful backdrop.
I’ll conclude with a couple of scenic views Peggy and I found at the beginning of the park.

NEXT POST: Peggy and I travel farther into Arches.

30 thoughts on “When Arches Isn’t About Arches— plus Strange Times

  1. This used to be my favorite park (tied with Zion) back in the 80s. Not so much since it was ‘discovered’ in later years. The last adventure trip we took Moab totally spooked me with crazy development and traffic… though we did find a neat restaurant that was authentic Eastern (Lebanon?) cuisine. We did enjoy the time we spent out on the backside of Arches. It was like being in the middle of nowhere. I really should finish up posting the last half of that trip. Seems I get distracted far too easily these days. Not enough hours in the day!!!!
    Good to see some old friends and favorites in this post without having to do social distancing. 😀

    • We rarely travel during peak season with Covid-19 being one more reason not to. Peggy’s birthday combined with finding a time when our family and grandkids were all available led to our summer decision. The crowd at Arches was more like off season. Only the major attractions had what I would think of as a crowd, which doesn’t require very many people… –Curt

  2. Some very cool pictures! The Arches indeed hold many charms other than what they were named for. Those Utah parks are all pretty amazing. I also always think of Indiana Jones and the last Crusade when I walk through there or look at photos haha. Agreed about the different states too. When my husband and I drove to Yellowstone a few weeks back, we were amazed at the stark differences between each state for trying (or not) to contain Covid!

    • It’s easy to spend weeks in Utah, MB, just wandering between parks. 🙂 Peggy and I also had our Indiana Jones’ moment!
      As for Covid-19, we have now done our tour of the major hotspots (brought about by our desire to see our son and family in Florida), and will choose the most Covid-free route we can home. –Curt

  3. “I find it more fun to look at them for the impressive monuments to nature and geology that they are.”
    We gave up trying to remember the names of mountains, etc. years ago and, like you, just enjoy them for what they are.

  4. Excellent photos Curt. It looks like you visited on the perfect day. But, I will say that Arches, like many of the NPs out west, is very photogenic, and it’s hard to get a bad shot if the weather cooperates. I saw a great collection of cross-bedded sand dunes when we visited last summer.

    As for COVID, we all know that it’s going to be with us for the forseeable future, and I think that most people are struggling to find a justifiable level of sickness and death that they’re comfortable with until we get a vaccine. Harsh to say, but it’s the reality with a virus that’s this contagious. In the meantime, high risk folks will have to do their best to take care of themselves and their loved ones until things calm down. And sadly, it’s going to be a while. You two take care of yourselves and have a great trip. ~James

    • Yep… hard to take a bad photo and something of an open book for geologists— a lot of Jurassic history in one place!
      Obviously, we aren’t risk adverse, or we wouldn’t be out here on the road. 🙂 Having spent much of my life on the prevention side of public health, individual responsibility is critical. Unfortunately, in a pandemic with a highly contagious virus, if people choose to risk themselves, they are also risking others. I am enough of a libertarian that I think people should be allowed to do almost anything they want, assuming it doesn’t harm others. You know, the old swing your fist all you want as long as it doesn’t connect with my nose. 🙂 –Curt

    • Thanks, OM! There several great National Parks in the Southwest and each one is different. But Arches has always been among my favorites. BTW, it is easy to plan a trip that includes several parks. –Curt

    • In general, if there is a crowd, we avoid it. 🙂 I am now planning our route back across the US. It won’t be quite as scary as the South, where governors more or less refused to push masks and insisted on reopening early. They are now paying the price. –Curt

    • Nature always has tricks up her sleeve, G. 🙂 As for being safe, a large dose of paranoia seems to be the best answer. Especially having just travelled through most of the Covid-19 hotspots! –Curt

  5. Enjoyed your comments on which states and areas of the country are more concerned with mask wearing than others. We shake our heads in disbelief every day!
    Thanks, too, for pointing out that there’s more to Arches than just the most famous formations. I guess you could spend a week there and still not see it all. I LOVE NPS!

    • Peggy and I are with you on loving National Parks! At one time or the other, we have been to almost all of them. And many, we have been to several times. Always a treat!
      People’s reactions to Covid-19, particularly in relation to wearing masks, has been a total mystery to us. It is such an easy thing to do. Thanks for commenting. –Curt

  6. This is just wonderful, Curt. I sit here in comfort and am allowed to take part in visiting some of nature’s fantastic and incredible sculptures. Shapes and colours
    to make you gasp and write a postcard….I want to be there.
    Golds, reds, sand coloured and petrified.
    Too much to mention all. Reminiscent of some in Egypt and Australia.

    You both take care on you ur travel.


    • It would be fun to have you travel through the Southwest and write poems about what you see, Miriam! Glad you are enjoying our journey. I have three more posts on the Arches. Thanks. –Curt

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever come across the Three Gossips before. That one made me laugh. I think everyone enjoys naming formations like these. Even private or idiosyncratic names help travelers hold on to the memories — and sometimes create enduring family jokes in the process!

    • Peggy and I are always seeing faces and creatures in rocks, as you know, Linda. I seem to remember that the Three Gossips were once known as the Three Wisemen. It’s always interesting to see what people come up with.
      The tradition has gone on for a long time considering the Native American names and myths for prominent structures and landmarks. I’d love to know what they thought about the Arches area. –Curt

  8. Some timeless views to lift our heads from the immediate predicament we’re all in, Curt, though interested to read your thoughtful observations on the situation. Everybody scratching their heads except those who, er, aren’t …

    • Timeless is right, Dave. Millions of years of history have gone into creating those views going all the way back to Jurassic times when the rocks were first laid down.
      We’ve been lucky on the Coronavirus, Dave, given our extensive travels and our time with family. Starting this weekend we will be traveling west from Virginia and will be able to return to our ‘paranoid’ approach to the pandemic. 🙂 –Curt

  9. I think the Wall Street formation might have been one of my favorites at Arches! We found ourselves going back there multiple times during our few days in the vicinity, and it never failed to impress. Loved seeing your photos of it.

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