Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Windows Loop Drive, Arches National Park, Utah

A nice way to see a number of arches within close proximity of one another is to take the drive to The Windows area in Arches National Park. With short easy walks, this area provides views of 4 plus unique and spectacular arches. On the way, first be sure to stop and enjoy Balanced Rock, where a short path circumnavigates around the base of the free standing rock, so you can enjoy the variety of views. Although this path is not fully accessible, there is a small portion that is boardwalk that offers great perspectives as well.

The drive to the Windows first takes you past the Garden of Eden section that features some beautiful rock formations including several large rock fins and free standing rock spires. There is a parking lot where you can get our and meander and enjoy these wonderful views. At the end of The Windows drive, there are two parking lots – one that you first come to, and another one just a little further around the loop, so do not be dismayed if you cannot find parking at the first lot. The Windows area features four main arches; North and South Window arches, and Turret Arch which are closet to the first parking lot, and Double Arch accessible from the second parking area.
To explore the three arches up close, you can take an easy gravel path that offers great views and provides access to walk under North Window and Turret Arches with a little more effort. This path has steps built-in so it’s not accessible to wheel chairs. Along this walk is another arch that is just starting, so maybe someday there will be a “more northern” window arch recognized. To add a little adventure to your walk and to change your viewing perspective, there is a primitive loop trail starting at South Window arch that takes you behind both Window arches and leads you back to the parking area.

Double Arch is located near the second parking lot. It’s literally a huge double arch where two arches beginning at the same point yet end in different places. This arch is very unique and quite spectacular. To get there from the first parking lot (you might loose your spot is you try and move your car to the second parking lot) you can either walk the road or cross via a small path that cuts through the center field that separates the parking lots. There is a short dirt trail (not wheel chair accessible) to this arch that eventually takes you under the arch. You don’t have to walk the entire path to get great views of this arch.
As you drive out of the Windows Section there is another area called the Cove of Caves. This is section of caves that have formed in the base of a red rock wall. Very interesting to see and who knows maybe your witnessing the formation of future featured arches.

The Windows area and drive are a must if you visit the park. There are great views and “don’t miss” scenery even if you don’t leave your vehicle. It would be fun to travel this road and see the sights with different lighting at different times of the day.

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