Arches National Park, the Olgas on steroids.

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The drive from Cortez to Moab, on our way to Arches National Park, was an adventure in geography and weather.

The landscape varied from alpine to arid. We went through areas that were hot, with bright blue sky’s, while in the mountains there were monsoonal rains and the temperature plummeted.

Moab is the centre of adventure in this part of America. You can bush-bash, river raft, paddle board, mountain bike, go kayaking and that’s all in addition to visiting the Arches National Park.

In the late afternoon of our first night in Moab we made a quick run around a small section of the park. We were lucky as the light was perfect and only started to fade as we were on our way back to the hotel.

Moab is only 6 km from Arches, which is on the Colorado River in Utah. It was named as a National Monument in 1929 and made a National Park in 1971.

The next day we headed back into the park to experience more of its spectacular beauty.

Our $10 entrance fee was valid for 7 days so we could come and go as much as we liked.

Like the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park was very good value for money. The facilities were impeccable, the roads and tracks were well maintained and the staff knowledgable and extremely friendly.

They do seem to enjoy their job.

When we were in Mesa Verde we met a park ranger, working there for the summer season. Each year he went to a different park and enjoyed learning about the history, geography and geology of the areas he worked in.

It showed in the way he interacted with the park visitors.

The Arches National Park was a highlight and to my mind and far more spectacular than Monument Valley.

There are similarities with the Olgas in Central Australia, but in the Arches the sites and vistas just seem to keep on reinventing themselves at every turn.

We drove to the end of the park and then did a 9 km walk around the Devils Garden. Passing Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch and Landscape Arch we ended up at Double O Arch.

There was a thunderstorm brewing to the north and it appeared to be coming our way – then it vanished.

It was only a relatively short walk by comparison to some we had done but it was hard going.

We took what’s called the ‘Primitive Trail’ which is only marked with rock cairns and described in the guide book as ‘strenuous’.

The rock formations in Arches National Park are natural sculptures in their most spectacular form. The geology of the formations is complicated with a history that goes back 300 million years, when the area was an ocean. A combination of hard rock, soft rock, pressure and erosion have all contributed to the creation of monoliths, spires, balanced rocks and the famous arches.

Seemingly at odds with the natural wonder of this region is the wastefulness of the tourist industry that supports it.

We very soon became conscious that Americas live with a seemingly bottomless supply of disposable items. Apart from the coffee chains, that serve everything in a paper cups, most breakfast venues, including hotels and motels, seem to only use disposable plates, cutlery and cups. This wastage is also carried through to the food. If you need some milk for your cereal you are forced to use a carton containing half a pint, when you really only need a small portion of that amount.

Nothing is recycled and everything seems destined for landfill.

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