Monday, March 3, 2014

Arches National Park, Utah - Hiking and Running

There are five national parks in Utah and I usually make my way through most of them over the course of a year.  Each park offers something unique in terms of scenery and adventure, but I tend the favor the parks that offer the greatest amount of solitude and backcountry opportunity.  Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah, is probably the park I visit the least because of its limited backcountry and the large crowds due to its immense popularity.

Arches National Park

Roger planned to join a group from western Colorado that was climbing and rappelling at a couple of sites within the park on Sunday.  I don't climb, but I definitely didn't want to miss an opportunity to spend some time in southern Utah.  The weather was looking a bit stormy in Salt Lake for the weekend and I needed to do a 20 mile long run for my upcoming marathon, so I decided to join Roger and do my long run in the park and enjoy a little hiking and camping.

Some early hints of spring

We arrived in Arches National Park on Saturday afternoon and set up camp at the Devil's Garden Campground.  Normally this campground is booked solid from spring until fall, but we were visiting just before the start of the tourist season and found plenty of spots available for our one night stay.  The surrounding scenery and access to popular hikes was perfect.

Camping at Devil's Garden Campground

We did a quick hike past the popular Landscape Arch to an arch I had never seen before, Double O arch.  The combination of storm clouds and the sunlight on the red rock made for some spectacular views.  The arch was also very impressive and fun to climb around.  After the hike, we ate a quick dinner in Moab and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the campfire and thinking about spring adventure.

Landscape Arch

Hike to Double O Arch

Double O Arch

View through Double O Arch

Camping at Devil's Garden Campground

On Sunday, while Roger went climbing, I did a 20 mile out-and-back run through Salt Valley.  The long dirt road was excellent for running with minimal traffic and nice scenery.  It wasn't until I got near the 10 mile turn-around point that the scenery became more beautiful, but i didn't have energy or the water to make the run any longer than I had planned.  Running through this portion of the park was much like a backcountry experience.  After the long run, I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying some well earned rest in the sunshine amongst the beautiful red sandstone spires.

Roger getting ready to climb

20 mile out-and-back run through Salt Valley