Arches National Park Provides Jaw-Dropping Road Trip Detour

By: Tom Malone

My red Ford Focus climbed along the cliff's edge into the vast terrain of Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. On my solo journey across the United States, I planned this detour to chip 45 minutes off of my itinerary; I underestimated drastically.

As my car pulled around the final switchback, I saw my first red rock formation: a boulder. Rebelution blasted from my stereo and I rolled the windows down to feel the desert air. I deciphered my map and decided to follow a turnoff that would lead me to my first arch.

I saw Balanced Rock, which looked exactly like the name suggested. I pulled off the dirt road and parked. I saw a small arch in the distance, so I opened my trunk and laced up my waterproof hiking boots from Columbia Sportswear.

The sun beat down on me and thirst hit instantly. I continued to walk through dried brush and orange clay until I came to the base of a window arch. I looked up and felt infinitely small underneath the largest natural formation that I had ever seen. I stared in awe at the never-ending expanse of untouched land that spread out before me.

I knew that I needed to dedicate more time to this detour. I drove to the next off-shoot road and found Delicate Arch; I hiked the half-hour trail and experienced the same sense of smallness. The summer sun boiled the ground and my hiking boots felt as if they would melt, but I continued through pinched canyons to find arch after arch.

Five hours later, the sun began to drop. I retraced my steps down the cliff's edge and exited Arches National Park and rejoined my fellow, unknown travelers on Interstate 70.

*Photo By: Tom Malone
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