Saturday, February 27, 2016
About three years ago I went on a ranger-guided tour of the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park with my friend Jackson to check out the area for the first time. Since I was in a group of about 25 people that day I didn’t bother to pull out my camera and take many photos and I knew that I would want to come back on my own another day.
Today, Diane and I decided to get a permit and head back to the Fiery Furnace so we could explore the area on our own. I was hoping I would remember the loop I took with the guided tour so that we could find all the arches I had seen that day, but I was a little worried that my memory would be a little rusty after three years. To my surprise, I actually remembered much of the route and recognized many of areas we had visited. We took a few wrong turns throughout the day but I did manage to find our way through the maze and we got to see some new terrain, too!
Make sure you stop at the Visitor’s Center to get your permit before entering the Fiery Furnace.
This area is home to the largest juniper trees I have ever seen.
Exploring the edge of the Fiery Furnace.
After hiking up the wash a bit and then turning left into a narrow passage we came to Walk-Through Bridge.
Sandstone towers and fins all around.
Plenty of narrow passages and slots to explore.
We followed another short side canyon and found Inner Sanctum Bridge at the end.
Soon we found ourselves below Skull Arch (Twin Arch), which is one of the highlights of the ranger-guided tours.
Nice light bouncing off the walls.
Diane climbing down a steep fin after we took a wrong turn.
We passed Kissing Turtles Arch.
Diane among the massive fins.
Hiking through this narrow slot would lead us to Surprise Arch.
A great view from below Surprise Arch.
After returning to my Jeep at the trailhead we drove over to the Sand Dune Arch parking lot and hiked out past Broken Arch to revisit Magic Mystery Bridge. We had first visited this bridge back on Christmas of last year but we couldn’t easily get down below because of the snow and ice. We decided to try again now that almost all of the snow was finally gone and it was an easy hike to the bottom in these conditions.
Our first view of the Magic Mystery Bridge from below.
The area underneath the arch was pretty cool to explore.
When we returned to the trailhead from Magic Mystery Bridge we decided to head back into Moab for something to eat and then return to the Fiery Furnace so I could photograph the area at sunset. We grabbed a late lunch at the Moab Brewery and then returned to Arches via the Willow Springs Road since we had plenty of time before sunset.
We made sure to visit the dinosaur tracks just outside the park.
Entering Arches National Park again.
I can’t pass up this view of Balanced Rock without stopping for a photo.
Back in the Fiery Furnace searching for a spot to watch the sunset. This will do…
A panorama from the spot as we waited for the sun to dip below the horizon.
Red rocks and the La Sal Mountains in the distance. What more could you ask for?
After the sun had set I waited for about 20 minutes to get one last photo of the area at dusk. Then it was a short hike back to the Jeep followed by the drive back home. It was a good day!