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Return To Silence: Delicate Arch

New Year’s Day | Tuesday, January 1, 2019

To be honest, I never thought I would be visiting Delicate Arch in Arches National Park ever again since it’s become a very busy place over the past few years. However, there was a perfect storm of events that allowed Diane and I to watch the first sunset of 2019 at Delicate Arch with our friend Jared and absolutely no one else around! When I saw that the road into Arches National Park was closed on Monday morning because of a snowstorm and there was no money to plow and maintain it because of the government shutdown, I knew instantly that I needed to try and get to Delicate Arch for sunset on New Year’s Day if it didn’t open back up before then! Later in the day my friend Jared posted a photo from Arches taken during the morning snowstorm to Facebook, so I quickly sent him a message to find out what was going on and learned he was asked to leave the park when they closed the road and that the Windows Section had received about 5-6″ of snow. I told him about my plans for Delicate Arch the following day and invited him to join us, and he was definitely interested in going with us. I continued to keep a close eye on social media and the weather forecast for the remainder of the day and the following morning to make sure the road never opened back up and that the storm was going to clear before sunset. By noon on Tuesday it looked like everything was still going as I had hoped so our trip to Delicate Arch was a go!

Arches Road Closed

After Diane and I went on our annual New Year’s Day sunrise hike in the Colorado National Monument, we stopped home to warm up for a little bit and then headed west to Utah where we met up with Jared along I-70. I was a little worried about the condition of the backcountry roads we needed to drive with fresh snow on the ground, but we found that this area had not received very much snow and we had no issues with the roads. We arrived at the boundary of Arches National Park much quicker than I had anticipated and then we bundled up for the cold weather and hiked cross-country to Delicate Arch. When we intersected the official trail to Delicate Arch I was happy to find there were no footprints in the fresh snow and we were most likely the first visitors to Delicate Arch in 2019! We finished the hike up to the arch and had the entire place to ourselves for a few hours until sunset. Like our New Year’s Day visit to The Wave after a snowstorm, this is another unique experience that I will never forget!

Diane and Jared following me across the snow-covered landscape in the backcountry of Arches National Park.

Crossing The Desert

As we neared the official Delicate Arch Trail we got a view of Frame Arch.

Frame Arch

There were no footprints in the fresh snow on the final ledge to Delicate Arch, so I’m pretty sure we were the first visitors in 2019!

No Tracks in the Snow

A normally busy location completely free of people…

Busy Place

Since we had plenty of time to photograph Delicate Arch without getting in anyone’s way, I tried to get a few sunstars while I was here.

Cowboy Chaps

Delicate Bowl

Looking up at Delicate Arch from the other side.

The Other Side

Here’s a look at the sandstone bowl that the arch sits above.

The Bowl

Delicate Arch, New Year’s Day 2019

Delicate Arch, New Year's Day 2019

Another sunstar, another angle.

Delicate Sunburst

I framed Mount Tukuhnikivatz with the arch in this photo.

Mount Tuk Framed

A wider view of the scene shortly before sunset.

Standard View

Delicate Arch bathed in the warm last light of the first day of the new year!

Last Light on Delicate Arch

After the sun was down below the horizon we started hiking back down the trail to my Jeep.

Hiking Down

There was a pretty nice Earth Shadow this evening.

Magenta Sky

Unlike some people visiting the National Parks during the government shutdown, we only left footprints behind which will melt away once the temperature rises again.

Leaving Tracks Behind

As we hiked back to my Jeep we could just make out Echo Arch in the distance before it got too dark out.

Echo Arch

We returned to my Jeep in the dark just before we would have needed to use our headlamps. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun was down so it was pretty cold out during the hike back. The drive back to the interstate in the dark was uneventful and we parted ways and headed home after we reached his car. At this point I have no desire to ever return to Delicate Arch, but if another occasion occurs where we can have it to ourselves again, I might change my mind. We had a great beginning to the new year with a sunrise hike in the Colorado National Monument and then a sunset at Delicate Arch. It’s pretty nice living close to so many awesome places!

>> Delicate Arch Photo Gallery

4 Comments

  1. SteveO
    SteveO January 5, 2019

    Congratulations on a once-in-a-lifetime coup with stellar research on your part! Nice work, as always. Thanks for sharing, Steve

  2. Jay Kuntz
    Jay Kuntz January 5, 2019

    So those were your tracks from winter camp road! We followed them in Friday to enjoy the arch in silence

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat January 5, 2019

      Yep, that was us! I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to get to the arch when the road was closed!

  3. John Miller
    John Miller January 5, 2019

    Lucky you! Great unrepeatable photos. Thanks for shaiong

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