After seeing Delicate Arch first thing in the morning, Julia and I continued our exploration of Arches National Park by making our way towards Balanced Rock. Balanced Rock is listed as a hike by some, but at only .3 miles and virtually no elevation gain, I’ll just list it as a site to see. The walkway from the parking lot circles the precariously balanced rock, giving the viewer many different angles to question the possibility of such a naturally occurring structure. The total hieght of balanced rock from the ground to the top is 128 feet, with the rock portion standing 55 feet in height. The rock is the size of three school buses!
The parking lot for Balanced Rock was pretty crowded, so we made our way on the road towards Double Arch and The Windows. On the road to these two park attractions, there is a parking area for the Garden of Eden. We didn’t get out to do any hiking here, but we did make sure to take in the incredible morning views. It was pretty fun to see rock climbers making their way up one of the rock towers. The temperatures were still close to freezing, so I can only imagine how their exposed hands felt on the icy rock.
Double Arch was our next stop, and was also another great opportunity to get a little walking in. Much like Balanced Rock, Double Arch is listed as a hike in places, but it’s really just a .5 mile walk with little to no elevation change. I was really starting to enjoy the quick approaches though. I’m so used to taking hikes that require me to hike 7 or more miles and climb at least 4000ft to get to a mountain peak, and it felt great to see so many incredible sights with so little effort.
If you’ve never been to see Double Arch but it’s looks familiar to you, you’re probably remembering the opening scene to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Double Arch is a pothole arch, meaning that it formed by water eroding it from above, and not from the side like many other arches in the park. The hike leading to Double Arch is one of great anticipation, as you can see the massive arches grow closer with each step. What makes this site especially fun, is that you can climb right up and underneath the arches to really take them in with all their glory.
We spent quite a bit of time at Double Arch enjoying the views before walking up to the one mile trail for The Windows. The parking circle for Double Arch is the same one used for the Windows, so we only had to walk on a little asphalt to reach the trailhead. The one mile loop hike for The Windows (also known as The Spectacles) gains 150 feet and takes you to see the North Window and the South Window.
We started towards the South Window on a series of gravel steps. It was long before we were standing in the eye of the South Window with brain stretching vistas of Arches National Park. From here, there are two choices to continue. You can backtrack and head towards the North Window, or you can do like us and pass through the South Window onto the primitive trail loop. The views from the backside of the South Window were some of my favorite in the park, but are missed by many.
Close to The Windows is Turret Arch, just a short walk away. We made our way over and spent a little time hiking in and around the area. The late morning sky was starting to transition into the perfect backdrop for photography, with a deep blue sky broken by wispy white clouds.
After seeing so much in just one morning, Julia and I were feeling a bit tired and hungry. We made our way back to Moab to grab some lunch, and we began planning some adventures for a full afternoon back in Arches National Park.