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Rodeo, New Mexico
December 13, 2006
A short ways further along the road, take the turnoff into the Windows area. You’ll be richly rewarded with an incredible array of unusually shaped rock formations and numerous arches. We hadn’t driven far (in 2003) when we spotted a couple of climbers scaling what looked like a giant thumb. We didn’t see any climbers this time (2006). In May of this year, rock climber Dean Potter made a controversial filmed climb of Delicate Arch that caused park officials to further restrict climbing activities.
Parking at Windows trailhead, we took the easy one-mile loop trail to and around North and South Windows, two oval-shaped arches that look like eyes. A small spur leads to Turret Arch. These three were our first arches, and it was an amazing feeling to stand under them, rather, inside of them. Afternoon sun made the sandstone glow orange-red. They’re very popular, so don’t expect solitude here.
It was almost sunset when we arrived at the trail to Double Arch. Less people here. A quarter-mile trail leads into this unique and lovely arch. It was formed in two ways: The top portion resulted from water in a pothole eventually penetrating its way through the top of the rock to the alcove below, making a hole, which continues to be widened by erosion. The lower sibling arch formed in the more usual way, a fin whose middle eroded more quickly than the sandstone around it. The rocks of Double Arch are distinctively striped with desert varnish.
We’d encountered Parade of the Elephants on our arrival to the loop, but hadn’t appreciated just how much they really do look like big lumbering sandstone-colored pachyderms until we saw them at last light. It would hardly have surprised us to hear the thunder of their approaching hooves, but instead, it was perfectly still, a magic moment, frozen in time.
For everything you ever wanted to know about natural arches, check out the Natural Arch and Bridge Society’s website.
From journal Magical Arches in the Rain
Cleveland , Ohio
September 10, 2001
We started with a walk up a gravel path to the North Window. This massive arch was impressive all by itself, but when coupled with the view of its partner, the South Window, it took on a unique formation. When viewed from the "primitive" portion of the trail, it appeared as though a pair of eyes was looking at us! One of our guidebooks referred to these as "spectacles of sandstone". The term "primitive trail" seemed like a bit of a misnomer to us. We found that it was not hard to hike (there was only one small place to scramble up) and as trails go, it was more civilized than many we have followed in other National Parks.
Turret Arch was easy to visit from the trails nearest the Windows. This freestanding arch has a large pillar of sandstone on one side. It took only a little imagination to understand how it got its name!
The trail to Double Arch was on the other side of the Windows parking lot. This was a short, in and out walk which allowed us to get directly under the arches. Here, two slender arches are joined on one side. This is actually a combination of perforated fins and a pothole arch (a horizontal arch). Regardless of what geologists might call it, this was an awesome formation – both immense and graceful at the same time.
The names of many of the Park’s arches were elusive, even shortly after we visited them. Our visit to the Windows Area left indelible impressions and the names of these arches stayed with us long after we left Moab.
From journal Arches National Park - Red Rock Fantasy