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Southern Utah National Parks 2009 Archives

September 23, 2009

Our Big, Fat, American Road Trip...

The last entry I've written on my blog was about three weeks ago; I was sitting on my breakfast bar,watching palm trees swinging ,and listening to waves crashing on the Pacific Ocean. Today, I am laying on my dad's recliner,looking out of the window, I see a big magnolia tree standing,oh so still, as if daring the humid heat of the south. The weather forecast predicted rain, but I don't see it, not yet. From Hawaii to South Carolina, and everything in between, we made our way from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic Southeast, the car odometer read 4200 road miles, and we've loved every mile and minute of it.

To be sure, we have not reached our final destination yet, and our trip is not yet over. But we are very close, a four or five hour drive to Jacksonville Florida is nothing compared to the trip we just finished.

We had a straight flight from Maui to Portland,Oregon on Alaskan Air. We retrieved our car,that has been stored in Portland for the last six months, and we spent five nights in Portland, visiting with our friends, and soaking up the city life that we missed so much living on Maui . Portland is a beautiful American city, green, clean and friendly. We visited some main attractions,biked a little, hiked a little, and ate A LOT. We really enjoyed everything we've done and seen in the city, but the food won the highlights hands down.

From Portland we headed south and east with Southern Utah as a final destination, stopping in Boise, Idaho, where loads of nostalgia came rushing through us; we lived in Boise for three months in 2007 and loved it. We also spent a night in Salt Lake City, before reaching the magnificent Zion. We spent five nights touring Zion National Park, now there is a part of America to be proud of.

Leaving Zion, we stopped at Bryce Canyon, another spot that is out of this world. And then of course the Grand Canyon that no words can describe. From the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we had a long drive to Arches National Park, another American treasure. In Arches, we seemed to have offended the weather gods, as we drove into Moab to a top notch southwestern thunderstorm, with lightening and all. We canceled our camping plans and got a room at a local motel. We went to bed praying for a nice morning to explore the park.

Well, it was an overcast and drizzly morning, but looking at the bright side, it wasn't hot(yay). We spent half the day in the park and then headed towards Colorado, to Edwards,where my in-laws were staying in their summer home, high in the mountains escaping the Texan heat.We spent three days, watching the aspens turn golden, eating good food and enjoying stunning scenery. Of course, the great company, and winning the shuffle board championship with MIL(against Bill and FIL) made the stay even more sweet.

Leaving Edwards, we spent a night in Topeka, Kansas, and another in Nashville, Tennessee, before reaching my parents' place in Lake City, South Carolina. We've been here for couple days, eating a lot again, and enjoying spending time with the family. This morning, me and Bill went to ride horses with a couple of my dad's customers and friends.After the trail ride, we all went to my dad's gas station/diner,where he treated us with delicious(even if not healthy) southern cooking of fried chicken, fried pork chops, sweet peas, mashed potatoes, and apple cobbler. I love seeing how happy my parents are living here after moving from Michigan about four years ago. They blend in well in the country life.

I will blog in more details about our trip, but for the next couple days, I will be spending more time with my family, getting my photos organized and then doing some chores(yes, after all these years, chore rules remain enforced).

October 12, 2009

Zion National Park: A Sanctuary of Beauty

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Zion is the perfect name for the 147,000 acres of land that surround Springdale in Southern Utah. It is indeed a peaceful heavenly place,a sanctuary. Stunning beauty and unique rock formations; sand castles towering over desert canyons. The canyon walls are massive and high,and stop only to greet bright blue skies. One feels the hands of God at work, just glaring upon the beauty of Zion, with the many colors, the different shapes, and the fascinating patterns, Zion is more fitting than any other worship place to connect with the Creator.

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Words fail me when I try to find in them a term suitable for describing Zion, with all its mysterious canyons, soaring cliffs, stunning hues, and the magical experiences that take over me when I think of the time we spent there. Spectacular could work,only it is super spectacular!

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Continue reading "Zion National Park: A Sanctuary of Beauty" »

October 15, 2009

Hiking Zion: Hidden Canyon Trail

On our first full day in Zion, we got up early(around 0630 am) and caught the shuttle to the park. I believe the first shuttle leaves Springdale at 0530 am. From visiting the visitor center the evening before, we decided on Hidden Canyon being our first official hike in Zion. So, when we got to the park, we took the park shuttle to Weeping Rock stop; the trail head for three hikes: Weeping Rock, Hidden canyon , and Observation Point trails.

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The photos and videos of Weeping Rock displayed in the visitor center, showed a big,round rock with spring water dripping from it like rain, or tears, and hence the name. Unfortunately, we never got to take the half a mile trail to get to see it, as there had been a rock slide a day or two before we got there, and the trail was closed the whole time we were there. Already a reason for another trip to magical Zion!

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To get to Hidden Canyon, we ascended the paved path(common to both Hidden Canyon and Observation Point trails),the views of the East Rim of Zion were breathtaking. After about half a mile of paved path, the trail split in two directions: right to Hidden Canyon, left to Observation Point.

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We turned right, and after a short walk, the trail was getting rockier, narrower and steeper. There were chains attached to the canyon walls to help the hiker stay balanced in the most dangerous(narrowest) parts. The views were spectacular! Both at eye level, and down below! Although, there were parts that I tried hard not to look down the sheer drop-offs for fear reasons,of course!( Not realizing then, that this hike was a piece of cake compared to Angles Landing sheer cliffs passages.)

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Continue reading "Hiking Zion: Hidden Canyon Trail" »

October 20, 2009

Hiking Zion: Observation Point Trail

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It might not be the best way to do this, but we ended up doing this hike after hiking Hidden Canyon Trail. Like I mentioned in my previous post, we overestimated the Hidden Canyon hike, thinking it would take us half the day to do it, when in fact we were done in about an hour and half(including a breakfast picnic). So we decided since Hidden Canyon trail connects with Observation point trail and we were already there to press on to Observation Point. We actually thought we would do part of it until we were tired(or hot) and then turn around and go back down. But believe me when I say, it is a hard trail to turn your back to, the stunning scenery just kept going, and like a magnet, it attracted us all the way to the top, despite the fatigue and heat,and it was well worth it.

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Observation Point trail starts at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop, and is about 8 miles round trip, with over 2100 feet elevation gain. The initial part of the hike(about half a mile) is a paved trail and is shared with Hidden Canyon hikers. Once the two trails split, Observation Point trail starts zigzagging its way up the eastern canyon walls. The views are amazing, but not enough to prepare you for the sublime beauty of Echo Canyon--a slot canyon with spectacular slickrocks and magical white cliffs. We spent a long time in the shade of the hanging walls, admiring God's work through nature and mesmerized by the magical tranquility the canyon offers.

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Continue reading "Hiking Zion: Observation Point Trail" »

October 21, 2009

Hiking Zion: The Narrows

Have you hiked in a river before?

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Imagine yourself walking upstream in a river, under the shadows of soaring canyon walls, with hanging gardens, sandstone grottos, natural springs and waterfalls surrounding you. Imagine wading water while walking, the river is your trail,and the canyon walls are the boundaries.At some point, the river water is at your waist level, and it is cold, but you are unable to move ahead, mesmerized by the allure of the canyon as you gaze up, your eyes are greeted by blue skies, and your brain is asking you to move, the cold is spreading through your body, but you are just gazing helplessly. This was my experience hiking Zion Narrows.

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The Narrows is the spectacular gorge carved by the Virgin river in Zion canyon. It is 16 miles long, up t0 2000 feet deep and at times only 20-30 feet. It is the most unique hike I've ever done, and among the most gorgeous, tiring and fun trails I've been on.

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To get to the Narrows, take the shuttle to its last stop and disembark at the Temple of Sinawava. To reach the Virgin River, you start off by hiking the paved,one mile Riverside Walk trail, possibly the most popular trail in Zion due to its accessibility, hanging gardens and amazing views of the river kissing the magical canyon walls. Once you reach the end of the paved trail, you are at the bottom of the Narrows. The easiest way to hike the Narrows is doing it from the bottom up. It is not recommended to do the full hike(16 miles) in one day, and permit is required for an overnight hike. We decided to walk up the river for a while until we are tired or out of time and then get back. I believe most people do it this way. We have noticed that the further in we went, the less people we encountered.

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Continue reading "Hiking Zion: The Narrows" »

October 27, 2009

Hiking Zion: Angles' Landing Trail

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Angles' Landing(in the photo above) is a rock formation that is at summit elevation in Zion National Park. The trail to Angles' Landing is a strenuous 2.5-mile trail with an elevation change of over 1,480 feet. The first 1.9 miles of the hike take you over the spectacular west rim of Zion passing Refrigerator Canyon and zigzagging with Walter's Wriggles. But Angles' Landing fame comes from the last half a mile of the trail; the narrow, steep drop-off part of the trail that has chains added to help you pull yourself up the rocks and navigate the sheer cliffs. It is not for the faint of heart!

To get to the trail head, we disembarked at the Grotto shuttle stop. From there, we crossed the bridge and started the ascent up the west rim trail. The trail becomes steep very quickly, and there isn't much shade, so an early start is recommended. The views of the river and canyon below is breathtaking, and the colors of the canyon walls are amazingly comforting, and very inviting.

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Continue reading "Hiking Zion: Angles' Landing Trail" »

October 28, 2009

The Other Zion: Kolob Canyons

We set our last day in Springdale to visit Kolob Canyons in Zion National Park. Unfortunately, that was the day the weather gods decided to treat us with thunderstorms. And even though the weather guy told us that the evening before, we decided to take the drive anyway and test our luck. We weren't lucky enough to turn the rain away, but we were lucky to get to see remote Zion; a part of Zion National Park just for the two of us. That was worth it.

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Kolob Canyons is located just off I-15 and is about an hour drive from the main part of Zion National Park. The Kolob Canyons section of the park is not as frequently visited but its beauty is no way inferior. It has stunning scenery, bright red cliffs and serene surroundings. I learned that "Kolob" in Mormon scripture refers to the "star or residence closest to heaven'.

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Continue reading "The Other Zion: Kolob Canyons" »

November 3, 2009

Bryce Canyon: Hoodoos Country

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We left Zion National Park and took the beautiful scenic drive up U.S. 89 highway to Bryce Canyon National Park. It was about an hour and fifteen minute drive, passing one beautiful rock formation after another. Definitely not a boring drive. As we were getting closer to Bryce Canyon, we passed Red Canyon, a fantastic oasis of red rocks nestled in Dixie National Forest. As we entered Bryce Canyon National Park, I was a little worried that we just left the gorgeous Zion to see, well, not much at that point. Bill,having visited Bryce before, advised me to wait before passing any judgments.

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We drove the park highway, and I still couldn't see much to be awed by. We parked in front of Sunrise Point, and walked from the car towards the view point, I think my jaw dropped as I got a glimpse of what laid ahead. Large spirals of colorful rocks forming castles, arches, windows,fins and mazes. Too bright, I was struck with awe, too unique, like something I've never seen before or realized that such formations existed. Yes, I saw photos of the park before, I heard it was magnificent, Bill told me I'd love it, but it wasn't until my own eyes transmitted the picture to my brain, that I actually felt the enormity of what I was looking at; Bryce Canyon with all its glory, magic, mystery and peace.

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Continue reading "Bryce Canyon: Hoodoos Country" »

November 4, 2009

Bryce Canyon: History and Legend

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During our day in Bryce Canyon, we spent sometime at Rainbow Point, the most southern point in the park(and supposedly the best spot to watch and photograph sunsets at Bryce--alas it was cloudy the day we were there and we couldn't get a good shot, warrants another visit for sure.)
The views were spectacular, but what caught my eye was a story posted on one of the plaques at that view point.

"Before there were any Indians, the Legend People, To-when-an-ung-wa, lived in that place. There were many of them. They were of many kinds – birds, animals, lizards and such things, but they looked like people. They were not people. They had power to make themselves look that way. For some reason the Legend People in that place were bad; they did something that was not good, perhaps a fight, perhaps some stole something….the tale is not clear at this point. Because they were bad, Coyote turned them all into rocks. You can see them in that place now all turned into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces, with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks. The name of that place is Angka-ku-wass-a-wits (red painted faces). This is the story the people tell."

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This was the legend of the Paiute Indians, who occupied the area around Bryce starting at 1200 A.D.I thought this was very interesting, and I believe that is why the pinnacles were called hoodoos, things that bring bad luck.

November 9, 2009

Hiking Bryce: Figure Eight Combination Loop

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Since we only had one day to explore magical Bryce Canyon National Park, we chose a combination hike that loops around most of the amphitheater. It was a bit strenuous, but the views were well worth the effort.

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The hike we did combined three of the best known trails in the park: Queens Garden, Navajo and Peekaboo loop for a total of 8.7 miles and more than 1500 feet elevation change. We started at Sunrise Point, did a figure eight clockwise ending where we started off. The weather was great, much cooler than Zion National Park, and many parts of the trail were shaded enough. We saw castles, windows, walls, queens, arches and other shaped rocks. We mused over naming some of them, but mostly were overwhelmed by the beauty of our surroundings. I couldn't decide if I was more mesmerized by the shapes, the colors or the fact that such marvel even exists in our country.


Continue reading "Hiking Bryce: Figure Eight Combination Loop" »

November 11, 2009

The Grand Canyon's North Rim

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The Grand Canyon being one of the natural wonders of the world doesn't need me to attest to its beauty. The steep gorge that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deed can vouch for its uniqueness and magnificence. Seeing the Grand Canyon was pleasantly overwhelming. Standing in the middle of this marvelous landscape was thought inspiring and spiritually empowering. It was more than a visit, it was a magical experience.

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We visited the North Rim part of the Grand Canyon National Park, since it is the closer to Southern Utah where we were. It amazes me that the two rims of this enormous canyon are ten miles apart, and yet it takes one an almost five-hour drive to get from the South to the North Rim and vice verse.

Continue reading "The Grand Canyon's North Rim" »

November 16, 2009

Grand Canyon's Sunset and Rainbow

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We drove to Cape Royal in the Grand Canyon North Rim National Park to watch the sunset. We walked the short trail to the panoramic viewpoint across the canyon. We were not sure if we'd have luck with a clear sunset or not, it had been raining on and off, and overall cloudy. But as we got to the viewpoint, the clouds started shifting a bit to our favor, and we had a magical sunset view. As we were walking back to the car, we turn around, and a beautiful rainbow over the arch called Angles Window. It was a blessed evening.

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December 2, 2009

Amazing Rock Formations: Whale Rock

I stopped blogging about our trip to national parks in Southern Utah a while back, but I am actually not done, I still have Arches National Park to blog about. Alas, I am extremely busy, getting the house up and ready is a lot of work as all of you homeowners (or renters) probably know. I have been living mainly in furnished condos for the past four years or so, this all seems strange. I am loving it! But it seems like I start working when I wake up, and when it is time to go to bed, I am still working. (I do consider shopping working, even though I am tolerating home furnishing shopping more than other kinds, it is still work and not fun for me.) It is sure is worthwhile to make the house a comfortable place that we can call home.

I was browsing through my photos from our visit to Arches National Park, and I was reminded of how much I love nature, how mystified and awed I am by what nature holds. Rock formations always amaze me, especially in the Southwest. It seems like just taking a drive across a highway, nature is challenging you to guess what it is trying to show you. I love that challenge! I can stare at rock formations for hours, imagine what they could be, and try to name them. This is a big reason why I loved visiting Zion, Bryce and Arches National Parks; amazing rock formations.

We got into Arches National Park in the late afternoon, and were greeted by stormy weather and lots of rain. I was eager to see stuff in the park, so we decided to drive a bit on the main road. The first thing that caught my eye was this rock formation (below) that I thought should definitely be called a whale rock. I am not sure if it has a name or not, but in my book, it is whale rock!

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December 4, 2009

PhotoHunt: curved

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The theme for this week's photohunt is curved.

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Since I am starting blogging about Arches National Park, I thought I'll choose a curved object from our photo collection from the trip to the park. Boy, I had many choices. Arches National Park in Utah has over 2,000 natural arches(which are by definition curved structures), according to the NPS department. None is probably more famous than Delicate Arch; the 52-feet freestanding sandstone arch that is depicted on one of the State of Utah license plates.

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Delicate Arch was once known as "The Chaps" due to its resemblance to these leather leg coverings worn by cowboys. You can take a mile and a half moderately strenuous hike to the arch, but it was raining when we visited (can you tell from the photos?), and we just viewed this natural wonder from the viewpoint. I definitely would love to go back and do this hike.

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Happy weekend all!

Note: The image of the license plate was copied from Utah's DMV Department Website.

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December 8, 2009

Arches National Park: Landscape Arch

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Part of what is known as the Devils Garden in northern Arches National Park, Landscape Arch is considered one of the longest (if not the longest) natural arches in the world. I actually believe that Kolob Arch in the Kolob Canyon of Zion National Park competes with Landscape Arch for the title. This wonderful natural wonder measures 306 feet wide in the arch opening. Imagine this, the arch is six feet longer than a football field, and a nine-story building can fit under it. In 1991, a large slab fill off the arch causing that thin portion of the arch you see in the photos. A tourist actually happened to have a video camera and supposedly one can hear the thud of the rocks slamming down the ground below as they fell.The NPS since then closed the trail that used to take hikers underneath the arch. A ranger actually told us that everyone who gets to see this magical formation should consider themselves lucky because no one knows how much longer it'll be there. We hiked the short path to the arch from the Devils Garden trailhead, it was absolutely mesmerizing and it really looked like it could have fallen while we we were gazing at it.

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January 7, 2010

Twin Falls, Idaho

While thinking of new goals for 2010, we were remembering the things we accomplished in 2009. What a year that was! We started 2009 in Spokane, buried in seven feet of snow! We were lucky to get out of there the second week of February to leave our car in storage in Portland, Oregon and fly to SC for a brief family visit. From SC, and after a very long flight, we arrived into sunny Maui. Locals complaining about the cold weather (I think it was 75), we ran around in shorts. It was a pleasant contrast to the freezing weather in Spokane and the extreme lack of sunshine, I was reminded (again) why even though I love Portland and Seattle, I would never be happy living there. From Maui, we planned our amazing trip to Northern Thailand, and what a trip that was! I cherish every minute and hope to return soon. I am glad I have my Thai recipes from Chiang Mai for a taste of Thailand.

After our return to Maui, I was starting to feel an island fever, and I knew what I needed: to plan a trip. Giving the car logistics, we knew we'd be driving across the country (again), so we planned our dream trip to Southern Utah national parks. I was very happy when I got on the plane from Maui to Portland, and we spent beautiful four days in Portland (might have been the city's only four sunny days). And then we started our drive, seeing some of the most amazing parts of our country: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon and Arches, Paying my in-laws in Colorado a short visit and hitting the road with sunny Florida as a final destination. The overnight accommodations blend in my memory, as we've done similar road trips multiple times, but one location stands out in my memory: Twin Falls, Idaho.

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Continue reading "Twin Falls, Idaho" »

January 22, 2010

PhotoHunt: balanced

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The theme for this week's photohunt is balanced.

I immediately thought of Arches National Park in Utah. The Park is a mecca for arches and rock formations, many of which seem to be magically balanced.

Interestingly, one of the famous rock formations in the Park is called Balanced Rock for reasons obvious in the photo below.

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Another cluster of rock formations in Arches National Park and a favorite of mine is called the The Three Gossips (also for reasons obvious in the photo below) and these too feature some balanced rocks.

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Happy Weekend All!

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January 26, 2010

Arches National Park: Double Arch

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Going back to blogging about Arches National Park, I realized that I didn't write about Bill's favorite landmark in the park: Double Arch. It is an awe-inspiring twin-arch structure with the larger opening having the highest height in the park at 112 feet, and the third longest span at 144 feet. It is truly a magical structure and we were able to hike to it, walk around, climb it and walk underneath it. I must say I was praying that the colossal wonder would not come to its demise as I was under it. Other names Double Arch was called in the past include: Double Windows, Twinbow Bridges (I like this one) and the Jug Handles (I can see this one too).
As I said, Bill absolutely loved this arch(arches I should say) and took many photos; here are some.

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Continue reading "Arches National Park: Double Arch" »

February 12, 2010

PhotoHunt: broken

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The theme for this week's photohunt is broken.

I thought I'll continue blogging about our visit to Arches National Park last September (shouldn't I be done already?)Here is a photo of broken tree branches n front of Skyline Arch.

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Skyline Arch (the only one sitting on the skyline and hence the name) is a spectacular arch that can be reached in an easy short hike from the parking lot. A well-defined, pretty flat trail takes you right in front of the awe-inspiring arch, allowing you to experience the arch closely. In 1940, a big chunk of the arch fell and almost doubled the size of the arch opening. Fascinating nature!

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Happy weekend all!

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March 30, 2010

Turret Arch

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The view from Turret Arch:

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Turret Arch, Arches National Park, September 2009
According to Wikipedia, a turret is a "small tower that projects vertically from the wall of a building such as a medieval castle", can you see the name?

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Candi's Corner: Wanderlust and Passions in the Southern Utah National Parks 2009 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Thailand 2009 is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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