Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hike to Tower Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

If you’re looking for a quieter hike in a remote part of Arches National Park and still want to see a few interesting arches, then this is the hike for you. To get to this hike, you first need to drive 8.2 miles down a dirt road. This road is the first dirt road off the left hand side of the road after the Sand Dune Arch parking area going towards the campground. It is maintained well enough to be passable for both trucks and cars, but there were places we wouldn’t have minded a bit more grading, as there were some serious washboard grooves. This dirt road takes you right down the middle of Salt Valley. This valley is wide open, full of desert brush and offers distant views of the Devils Garden area and Klondike Bluffs (home of Tower Arch).

The trailhead is located at a small parking area that also has a pit toilet. Once to the trailhead, the hike begins with a steep ascent over rocks, yet after 100 yards or so when you are on top the ridge, the trail levels out and it actually quiet level in most places. There were a lot of interesting rock formations along the way, and the trail eventually descends into a valley where you spend some time walking over rocks to the next level section. This valley is bordered by a wall of spires and large rock formations on each side. At the bottom of this valley, you cross the wash and begin to climb up the other side over a large sand dune that is the color of the surrounding rocks. Once on top, the trail leads you over more sand dune (at least it’s not uphill) and into narrow passage ways formed by rock fins. The trail is well marked by rock cairns which after about ¼ of a mile lead you to Tower Arch.

Tower Arch is a large arch with a very thick cap. You can climb through and up the backside for amazing views using the arch as your window. At the base of the arch is a carved inscription by Al Ringhoffer and his wife ~ Ringhoffer who was instrumental in establishing Arches National Park. As you are facing Tower Arch, there is another smaller nice arch to the right.

The total mileage for this hike was 3 miles round trip, and it took us about 2 hours. If you’re not up for such a long hike, there is a 4-wheel drive high clearance road that you can take to within 0.3 miles of Tower Arch.

1 comment:

Jerry and Suzy said...

You two are doing what very many people dream of, many more don't even know they should dream of it!

Us old adventurers have done some of that, and even just in our car, we know we get to places and see things that a great many folks don't ever see. The back roads, the little places, the nooks and crannies offer so much! We've even taken a boat down a river on the border between Thailand and Laos, and climbed a waterfall in Jamaica. No, we didn't take the car to get there!

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