Glimpses of the World

Everyone knows that the most exotic way to travel is by cruise boat. Imagine waking up in the morning with a beautiful view of the open blue ocean or another country or island you have never seen before!

Nature's Masterpieces: Arches National Park 

Balanced Rock: 3500 tons of stone precariously balanced on a small base . . . Landscape Arch: The widest natural arch of the world . . . And 2000 others . . . Arches National Park in Utah surpasses the human imagination with its rock formations.

Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in a single area in the world. "Fiery Furnace" owes its name to its bright red colors during sunset.
Landscape Arch is the widest natural arch in the world (93 m - 30 ft).
The region called "The Windows" contains magnificent formations. Balanced Rock, North and South Windows (Spectacles).
One of the most extraordinary formations in the world is Balanced Rock: 3500 tons precariously balanced on a tiny base.
Delicate Arch may be the most photographed point in the U.S.A.. Except for the early hours of the morning, it is continuously surrounded by tourists and photographers.

People for whom being in nature is a passion have some favorite spots, places that they would never tire of. My list includes Lake Meke in Turkey, Mt. Cotopaxi in Ecuador . . .

Until now, I have had a few chances to visit the national parks of the U.S.A., such as Katmai in Alaska, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Glacier in Montana; however, my affinity to Arches National Park is irreplaceable.

Arches National Park has the highest concentration of natural arches in a single area in the world. Displaying the extraordinary beauty of the Colorado Plateau, this park is peerless. It is big enough to get last in the wilderness and small enough to visit in a single day.

Upon your entry to the park, you feel like you have entered a magnetic field created by the scenery. This field invariably affects every sightseer. The sight of these mighty rocks, with the names like "Tower of Babylon," "Three Grasshoppers," "Three Gossipers," etc., astonishes the visitors. After a 15 minute walk, you meet "Balanced Rock." Now the magnetic field is powerful enough to prevent you from breathing. The visitors walk towards the giant rock in a single line, with robot-like movements; enchanted by its spell, they try to understand how such a huge rock can be balanced so precariously.

Balanced Rock is at the entrance of a region called "The Windows," and is full of giant, magnificent arches. One of the first arches you see is the very famous "Double Arch." A little further, you meet the "Spectacles" (two arches on the same slab of rock); across is the "Turret Arch."

Edward Abbey was one of the first rangers of the park, and he lived in a trailer home near Balanced Rock keeping a diary. His diary was later published ("Desert Solitaire") and received much of the publicity. The juniper tree, which he wrote about extensively, is in the Windows.

Eighteen km. past the entrance, youÕll see the trail to the Delicate Arch. You have to brave some difficult, 2.5 km (1.5 mi) climb in the formidable heat. Coming to Arches National Park and not visiting Delicate Arch, however, is like missing Mona Lisa in The Louvre.

"There are various ways to look at Delicate Arch," wrote Abbey, "you can find your own proof for its existence, a symbol, a sign, a reality, something with no meaning, or something that gives meaning to everything else . . . "

The Turret Arch.

Rock skyscrapers in the entrance; Tower of Babylon is the highest.

Arches National Park is an example of the unique beauty of the desert.

Various rock formations near Landscape Arch.

Rainbow Arch forms a natural bridge over Colorado river.

How did this miracle happen? The geological tale started 300 million years ago. As the ocean receded, the remaining salt mined with the precipitates and the residues, the salt and the gypsum crystallized under the hot sun (paradox formation). The rock formation continued over the initial salt layer for 200 million years. The salt moved under the weight at the rocks and formed rock slobs. Finally, water and ice shaped these slabs into arches.

There are approximately two thousand listed arches in the park. An arch-shaped rock formation has to be at least one meter (three feet) wide to be called an arch. The largest one in the park is Landscape Arch, which is about 93 meters (30 ft) wide. A huge rock piece (18 meters - 60 ft - in length) fell from this narrow arch, therefore making it more delicate-looking, in 1983. Since then, the path to its base is closed to visitors.

The next striking point is the "Fiery Furnace." Its name comes from the fact that this is the densest spot of rock formations and the bright red colors it gets during sunset. The concentration of the rocks makes it difficult to pass between them; moreover, the enormous number of exits and passages turns the Furnace into a labyrinth. Visitors are urged to enter with a guide.

The "Devil's Garden," in the northern section, contains some well known arches: Broken Arch and Sanddune Arch. I would recommend you to visit Sanddune Arch in the early hours of the morning, when you can see the tracks of kangaroo rat and grey fox. A little further is Skyline Arch, which you can luckily visit without stepping out of your car.

The main path of the Devil's Garden reaches Landscape, Double-O and Dark Angel arches. According to some sources, Landscape Arch is the real queen of the park, surpassing in beauty the ultra-famous Delicate Arch. I find such classification meaningless, as all the arches are winners. Nevertheless, with its 100 m (300 ft) width, the Landscape Arch is magnificent; and the Delicate Arch, with the 150 m (500 ft) precipice just below its feet, is breathtaking.

Far from Arches National Park, in the southern Utah, there is an arch declared as a national monument: Rainbow Arch. It is well worth a trip to see this arch that forms a natural bridge over Colorado river.

One day a jeep approached Abbey's trailer-home and three exhausted men asked for water. They were the engineers employed for the construction of a new road to the park. They told Abbey that once the road was finished, the number of visitors would soar. Abbey kept silent.

A couple years later, the road was constructed as planned, and the park, one-time refuge of wilderness lowers, was flooded with visitors. Abbey mentioned that the number of visitors jumped from 3000 to 300,000 a year. What would Abbey say if he had seen that over a million visitors come to the park annually? But nature itself is guilty for this. In the U.S.A., a place where everything can be tradeable commodity, nature doesn't have the right to be so gorgeous.

Another giant formation in the entrance: Three Gossipers.

One of the most interesting arches: Double Arch.

How many centuries later will these rock slabs form arches?

In Fiery Furnace, not only the rocks, but everything, even the soil, the trees, is bright.

It looks like a second arch is being formed in Turret Arch.

Balanced Rock, full moon and the juniper tree.