Today started early – even by Dwyer standards. I really wanted to see Delicate Arch at sunrise. The drive from our Airbnb to the Delicate Arch trail head is about 30 minutes. The hike to Delicate Arch is 1.5 miles mostly uphill. Sunrise was at 5:55am. I know it’s crazy… I set the alarm for 3:15am! On vacation… to chase sunrise! Before I share any pictures, I want to give a big shout out to Dave. He is always a good sport about my crazy ideas – especially, when on vacation and it involves a sunrise. When I tried to talk myself out of the whole thing last night, he encouraged me/us to go for it. He even woke up earlier than needed to turn on the coffee pot. Thank you, my love.
We started hiking at 5am with our headlamps and flashlights. The trail was pretty easy to follow. It’s been well maintained because of all the visitors. I thought it would be more challenging to follow, especially in the dark, but it was pretty easy. We made it to the arch with time to spare and watch the early sun rays turn the clouds into cotton candy. It was beautiful.
Surprisingly, we weren’t alone this early in the morning. There were quite a few early birds. Mostly photographers trying to catch the perfect shot.
This is my favorite shot of the clouds and Arch.
We stayed for 10-15 minutes and watched as the sun continued to rise and it became more and more crowded. We realized it was time to head down and continue seeing the park. It was a quick walk back down especially because we could actually see what was around us!
I also want to take a minute and share navigational tips to hiking in the desert. Trails can often be difficult to follow because there are no natural trail markers like trees or vegetation. Instead, there are cairns or rock piles. They are the navigation points to walk towards while hiking. They are spaced apart and give you a visual line of where the trail leads.
We returned to the car and headed up to our next hike. We were going to hike to see Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch, and Tapestry Arch.
This trail was really sandy in several spots. We even saw this cute little beetle.
We reversed course after tapestry arch. And stopped for a few pictures of the other side of Broken Arch.
Our next destination was Devils Garden Trail head. We stepped it out to see Landscape Arch – the longest arch on the planet.
As we walked, we started seeing elephants in all of the rock formations. Elephant trunks and elephant butts. Look at landscape arch – it is actually two elephants on either side extending their trunks. The one on the left has a crown above his ear. The elephant on the right has his mouth open. Do you see it?
We decided to pass on Double O Arch. The trail was crowded and really windy. We didn’t feel like scaling the fins in the crowd and wind…. We took a picture from below.
As we drove back to the park entrance we decided to see if we could find a parking spot at The Windows. We were pleasantly surprised the crowds had thinned in that part of the park. We found a spot without an issue. We walked along the main trail and then took the primitive trail back to the parking lot. We had the place to ourselves on the primitive trail!
After we finished with The Windows, we headed to the visitor center. It was after 11am and we were getting hot and tired. I had almost 26k steps and Dave had over 30k. I would call that a very successful day of chasing sunrise, hiking, and having fun!
We were back to the Airbnb by 12:30. 8 hours of hiking and driving. That’s a full day even if we were done in a half day! After a nap and shower, we enjoyed dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was delicious. I came for two things… a BiG margarita and sopaipilla. I first & last had sopaipillas when I went to New Mexico with my Mom in the 2008. They are sugary puffs of dough. Like a hollow doughnut. Just add honey! Both were delicious!
Tomorrow we head to Park City. We plan to not set an alarm – check out isn’t until 10:00am!