Having already visited Arches the previous day, we were rather stunned at the at the number of visitors who happened to be at the park, I suppose this should've been expected considering it was a Labor Day weekend; However when we approached some of the more popular in areas even the overflowed car parks had overflowed.
We noted the missing sites we had not visited on the excellent Park map, and planned to return the following morning.
I'm not sure if it's is because we have changed hotels/time-zones or rooms so many times in the past three days - but waking up early seems quite easy to do at the moment. Today we had been smart, and had packed up the room the previous evening - so at 0530 - we were up and off.
Free Park Entry
Should you be a mean and miserable person, then it appears that arches does not open it’s ticket booths until 0730 - but the park is open 24 hours a day. We were rather let down by no ranger Smith (the name we have given all rangers in honor of Yogi Bear) - but as we had already got a ticket which was valid for 7 days (the minimum you can buy) - we were not breaking the park rules.
We should be the first there
Ha - Ha - Ha. Yes we did think that for about 10 seconds, until the other car pulled up at the ranger station and drove straight through.
There was defiantly less traffic - but at 0610 as we started the short 15 minute hike to the arch we had chosen to see, the car park was already filling rapidly. Mainly it has to be said with Photographers - carrying all sorts of gear.
Lights - Camera - Rain
The mountain weather again was very changeable - in the distance we could see lightening flashes - but so far away using them in any photos would have been very difficult indeed
We started off at the North Window - which was nice - impressive, but was far too crowded (yes even at 0620) - so we moved around to the South Window (still a few people up on the main path), and then it started to rain.
This was great - as it made what had been a little dull arch, into something much more spectacular.
Take the long way home
We then walked back via the Primitive Trail - and not only do you get too see the arches (North and South) in a much better light - but there are no people. And…. if you are quiet and careful - you should get to see some wildlife.
Looking back at the North and South Arches
The trail is easy to follow - and there are no people, plus this side faces the sun - so it is well lit !!
Having got back to the car area, we hiked the short distance to Double Arch - which was quiet - despite the time now being 0815. This is spectacular to look at but rather tricky to frame - as it is so large - even my 16mm Full frame lense does not do it any justice.
Time to travel again
Having spent 3 hours in the park, enjoyed the scenery, sunrise, wildlife and got some exercise in the process - we decided to head to our next port of call, Cedar City, UT which is a short distance away from Las Vegas.
As we left the park at 0840, there was a queue of aprox 50 vehicles waiting to get into the park !! We counted at lest 4 large Tour Buses.
If you want to enjoy this place - Go Early
More Images are available.