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Monday, April 19, 2010

Hiking Delicate Arch and Southern Utah's Open Country

Where do you go if you want to show people scenery that is uniquely Utah? That's the question I faced as I entertained guests who had heard about Utah's red rock country, but had never seen it for themselves. They wanted to get out and see some of the sights but had limited time for exploration.

I choose Moab and we had a great time hiking in Arches National Park. I showed them Delicate Arch – a natural wonder that has become an a Utah icon – and then we explored the park's remote Klondike Bluffs region. They couldn't stop talking about the beauty of the land and they vowed to return soon.

Conditions were perfect for a an open desert hike. The air temperature reached into the high 70s F, plenty warm but not hot. The sky was azure blue and beautiful above the red sandstone.

The park was a popular destination that weekend and we met dozens of people along the trail to Delicate Arch. We talked with people from Japan and Australia and France and Italy, along with folks from various US states. Interacting with a variety of people is an enjoyable aspect of visiting popular areas in Utah national parks.

In contrast, the Klondike Bluffs area was uncrowded. There were a few cars in the parking log and we passed other hikers now and then, but for the most part we hiked alone. That was also enjoyable.

The scenery, the rock and sand, is different in the Klondike area than in other parts of the park. There are impressive arches, the trademark feature in the park – but there also other scenic features. On this trip we didn't have time to search out all of the area's treasures and so I'm hungry for more. I'll go back sometime soon and get photos of its unique attractions.

I've spent my entire life wandering around southern Utah, and I'm glad to know there are still new sites for me to see.

Summer temperatures get very hot in the Moab area. As summer sets in, hikers in Arches will do best taking short treks during the cooler morning hours. At that time, I shift my focus and do most of my hiking in the shaded canyons and along waterways, avoiding open country where the force of the sun can become oppressive.

Right now the open country beckons. During the next few weeks, conditions will be perfect for exploring the sun kissed open country in southern Utah.

- Dave Webb


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