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Arches NP, Utah, the North Window at sunset. And these are natural, unsaturated colours, in case you were wondering!
Both these parks are busy, primary tourist targets and neither permit mountain biking or off-road driving, so locals or travellers with more time or differing inclinations may prefer other places or to spend more time in fewer places.
A general view across Arches National Park. This rock is The Organ.
We couldn't decide our favourite National Park, Arches or Bryce Canyon. Arches requires a vehicle and a fair amount of driving from site to site whereas a good pair of legs would suffice in Bryce. Bryce also has a useful shuttle bus in high season and a good number of camping/lodging locations inside the park, near the main feature, the amphitheatre, but Arches only has one campground inside.
Arches, however, has an excellent, young and lively town nearby - Moab - offering good dining and all sorts of wacky experiences in the two other huge, adjacent parks, Canyonlands and Sand Flats Recreation Area, including the USA's best mountain bike trail - Slickrock - totally mad 4WD and ATV trips, moderate white water rafting and so on.
And finally, some arches...Double Arch after .8 mile (1.2kms) walk.
Visually the two parks are on a different scale. Bryce goes for the packed and pointy, melting-rock look in spectacular colours from two viewpoints, above and below. Arches offers equally eccentric shapes, but bigger, and in dramatic individual settings with plenty of open space and endless angles. Both have well marked trails lasting from half an hour to several hours, to and around the incredible sights.
Landscape Arch, the longest in Arches, at about 300ft (100m); visible after a 1.6 mile (2.6 km) walk.
This is the only arch visitors are not allowed under as it dropped a 60 ft (20m) slab weighing few hundred tons in 1991 and may completely collapse anytime.
Part of the Great Wall of Utah, though it looks more like a monstrous gingerbread house on acid to us.
No, not this is not the Egyptian Sphinx but Balance Rock; note the coach parked below left for size comparison.
Delicate Arch, also known as Cowboy Chaps, one of the park's premier sights, especially around sunset time, though it is a bit of a hike at 3 miles (4.8 kms).
And so goodnight to The Three Gossips and the other Arch rock stars.
has a fine, new, informative Visitor Centre featuring orientation
programs, natural and cultural history, self guide books and audio
tours. Rangers and naturalists offer guided walks.
There are no food supplies or lodges in the park, only the year-round and much desired Devils Garden Campground. Reservations must be made at least four days in advance.
Arches is open 24 hours a day, all year round.
By car the distance from Arches to: Moab city is 5 miles; Grand Junction, Colorado is 110 miles; Salt Lake City is 236 miles; Denver, Colorado is 360 miles; Grand Canyon National Park South Rim is 350 miles.