Sunday, June 29, 2014

USA 2014 - Arches National Park

We planned a very early start on Tuesday to get up and in to Arches National Park, the one place the locals had said we must visit.  It's a short drive from Moab to the Park entrance and we were soon stopping off to gawp at and photograph the scenery, which is breathtaking:

This rocky outcrop looks like a group of beings in conversation then turned to stone (or something like that!):

And this rock doesn't look like it'll be in place for very long at all:

This gives the impression of a rough knife cut through the landscape or the wall of some monument:

Throughout the park, not unexpectedly, are lots of arches in the stone, like this one:

Another very precarious looking rock:

It's a dry and arid landscape but still has birds, like the Black-chinned Sparrow:

And Bullock's Oriole:

And mammals too:

As we drove further into the park (it's an out-and-back route), the sun rose, the temperature rose with it and served to enhance the landscape and the experience:

Some of the plants were in flower:

On the way back to the car we saw Rock Wrens:

Dangerous looking country:

This is the arch at the start of the driving route, still in the early morning light:

I had to get two photographers to sit down as one in particular was getting himself into everybody's pictures that morning, but they did oblige:

We had decided due to my vertigo not to attempt the walk up to Delicate Arch, however there is a route beneath it and with a 500x combined with a 1.4x you can still get pretty good views of said arch:

Considering it is 'delicate' it's also huge.  We saw people walking under the arch (crazy fools!) and they only come up to the horizontal cracks on the 'feet'.  This is the arch in its landscape for context and with a normal lens:

We headed back towards the entrance, conscious of the increasing streams of cars heading into the park, and stopped at Hidden Arch, an arch in a rock formation, which involves walking on lots of the red sand as you can see here:

While in these rocks we spotted a group of White-throated Swifts, I wanted a picture, so hand-held the camera and waved it around trying to focus on the birds as they flew.  I think this was one of the last pictures I took, and the only one in focus:

We stopped at various spots on the way back out to take more pictures, it really is a beautiful place, probably the most stunning either of us have ever seen:

On our last hike in the park, in ever larger crowds, like us a Violet-green Swallow had decided it was time to take off:

As we left the park there were long queues to enter - as usual the early start paid-off.  We then turned and headed for Zion, some 300 miles away, along Interstate 70, which was an amazing drive.  The landscape is continually spectacular and I really enjoyed it even though it was five hours behind the wheel.


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