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Utah Travel Headlines

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Visit Arches National Park During Winter?

The title of this post comes from this Chicago Tribune article, where writer Josh Noel describes a winter trip to Arches National Park. He concludes that winter may be the best time for a visit. Below are excerpts.

...I wanted to see Arches in winter. I wanted to see its roads unclogged and its red rocks glazed with snow. I had wondered if they looked different this time of year and found a resounding and rewarding answer: yes.

Topped with unsullied white, southern Utah's red rocks seem even redder. The thrill is in the contrast, especially at sunset, when the rocks turn a warm orange-red and the snow, reflecting the fading sun, becomes softly rosy. Add short, scrubby green grasses and the sky's piercing blue, and Arches National Park sings in winter — albeit to a small audience. Which makes it even better, as Chandler had long known.

In winter, Arches' trail signs directing motorists to overflow parking are laughable. No one is here but locals (that is, people from within 500 miles) and foreigners (I met Russians, Germans, Australians).

In the age of cellphones and music wherever you go, it took awhile to realize that the solitude also meant quiet. Slowly I noted bird trills. I heard a low-passing raven's wings cut through the mountain air. And I heard nothing; in the deepest reaches of Devils Garden, looking at the land unfold 100 miles in every bright direction, I heard only me: the wind in my ears, my breath, a click in my jaw. There was nothing else to hear. Only see.

"If you come in winter you'll never come again in spring or fall," (German tourist Rejina) Zollmann said. "If mankind doesn't believe in God or a higher force, they should come here with open eyes and an open heart and they can understand."

She paused.

"I'm not American," she said. "I can't explain it."

I told her she explained Arches' quiet winter beauty well - better than many Americans could.

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