I’ve grown accustomed to leaving New Jersey at the start of summer, and, even though it hasn’t been too long since my last visit to the southwest, it get harder every time I return. The red rocks of southern Utah remain the place I desire most often, and my plans to return have already begun to materialize. The next couple of months have already planned themselves out, and then it’s time to go back to where the sun is hot and the humidity is not. It might be a long summer on the East Coast, but sooner than I think I’ll be back among the landscapes of the desert.
Anyone reading this probably already knows that Utah is my favorite place to visit. The National Parks are astounding, but the view from any given drive on a backroad, state highway, or even an Interstate can leave you speechless from the unmatched beauty that rises up all around you. The red rocks paired with the often blue sky seem to exist in perfect harmony and play off one another, creating the most rich, brilliant versions of either color that you will encounter in nature. Everything else seems just a little more dull after crossing the figurative state line.
Southern Utah has some of the most unique and incredible rock formations in the world, and Arches National Park is one of my favorite places to see them. Wall Street is lined with huge, narrow rocks that climb up on either side of the trail. I came a couple hours before dawn to catch the stars still hanging in the sky one morning. I had the park to myself and the silence was amazing. My eyes never adjusted to the point that the long exposure of my camera was able to see, but I could still feel the presence of the great structures that surrounded me.
This is one of my favorite spots to be in the world; well, the world I’ve explored so far. Double O Arch in Arches National Park is the one place I have visited one every trip I’ve taken west of the Mississippi. The trail is great, taking you past several arch formations and over giant rock fins. Part of the beauty of this park is being able to interact with the landscape. You can walk up to, through, and on top of this arch. The sunset does beautiful things to the red rocks, bringing out the colors that are more muted during the day. If you do visit this place for sunset, be prepared with a headlamp for the hike back. It gets dark fast.