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Christmas in Arches 2014

Christmas Day | Thursday, December 25, 2014

If you’ve been following my blog for more than a year, you might already know that I have an annual tradition where I spend Christmas Day in Arches National Park every year. This year would be the first time Diane would be joining me on this annual trip. There was a snowstorm in the forecast for Christmas Day in Grand Junction and Moab, so I made sure that we left very early in the morning so that we could beat the storm and would hopefully only have to drive through it once. The plan worked out pretty well and we only encountered some snow around Crescent Junction that slowed us down for a few miles. The snow didn’t start to fall in Arches until we were in the park, so our timing was perfect! Since it was snowing pretty hard when we reached Balanced Rock, I decided to head for The Windows section first so I could try and take some photos in the snow.

The snow was coming down pretty hard when we reached Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock Snowstorm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

It was snowing pretty good when we passed the Garden of Eden, too.

Snowing by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Diane stopped for a photo in front of the North Window.

North Window by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Turret Arch through the heavy snow.

Turret Arch Snowstorm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When we reached the North Window, I managed to scramble up to the view of Turret Arch framed through the Window. It was a little sketchy and slippery with snow on the rocks, but I managed to make it up there carefully.

Turret Arch framed through the North Window in a snowstorm.

Classic View Snowstorm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Nice snowy views all around.

Sandstone Snowstorm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Hiking back down from The Windows after completing the short loop.

Hiking in a Snowstorm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before leaving the area, we made sure to stop at Double Arch.

Double Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Next, we were planning on going to Devil’s Garden so we could hike to Landscape Arch, but we made a short detour to visit Sand Dune Arch on the way. Diane had never visited this arch before and I prefer to visit it in the winter when there aren’t usually a lot of people around. We had the place to ourselves.

A snow-covered Juniper along the trail.

Snow – Juniper – Sandstone by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Diane hiking between the fins to the arch.

Trail to Sand Dune Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Sand Dune Arch covered in snow.

Sand Dune Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Besides just visiting Arches on Christmas, I always make sure to hike to Landscape Arch, too. Just to make sure it’s still standing…

I was a little difficult getting up on this fin for a view from the right side of Landscape Arch.

Slippery Fin by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Yep, it’s still standing.

Landscape Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A different view as we hiked back towards the trailhead and the snow picked up again.

Landscape Arch Snowstorm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Last year I found this little tree near Pine Tree Arch that would make a nice Christmas Tree.

Christmas Tree by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking through Pine Tree Arch.

Pine Tree Arch II by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Diane under the arch.

Under Pine Tree Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We made a quick stop at Tunnel Arch on the way back.

Tunnel Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

It started snowing pretty hard again as we left the Devil’s Garden.

Fins in Snow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We had originally planned to hike the whole Primitive Loop today, but we changed those plans with all the snow on the ground that made the trail slick. Instead we decided to visit Ring Arch on our way back out of the park since it had recently suffered a partial collapse. Who knows how much longer it will still be standing? As we hiked up Courthouse Wash the clouds even cleared out a little bit and let some blue sky and sunlight through.

Blue sky over Courthouse Wash.

Courthouse Clearing by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Diane on her way to Ring Arch.

Hiking Under Clearing Skies by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Some of the snow even start to melt in the direct sunlight.

Melted Snow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We climbed up to the base of Ring Arch for a closer view.

Ring Arch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here is a photo of Ring Arch from my 2012 Christmas trip. You can see that it lost a lot of rock.

Ring Arch – Before by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Overlooking Courthouse Wash from the base of Ring Arch.

Courthouse Wash View by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After visiting Ring Arch we hiked over to The Tunnel, but we were unable to climb up to it. The sandstone was a bit wet and we kept sliding back down as we tried to climb up to the opening. I guess we will have to try another time…

That’s the entrance to The Tunnel above the little mushroom rock.

The Tunnel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After hiking back to my Jeep, we left the park and made a quick visit to the Golf Course Petroglyph Panel since Diane hadn’t been there before and wanted to see the Moab Man and Santa’s Sleigh.

The Moab Man waves ‘hi’

Moab Man Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before leaving town and driving back home we stopped and had dinner at Denny’s. It wasn’t my first choice for a Christmas dinner, but there really aren’t any other options open on Christmas Day in Moab. Luckily, most of the drive home was free of snow, but we did have to drive through a pretty good snowstorm from around Cisco to Westwater which made the roads slippery and slowed us down a bit. Overall, we had a pretty great Christmas!

>> Christmas in Arches 2014 Photo Gallery


  1. Dennis
    Dennis January 5, 2015

    Arches during a snow storm is indeed a great place and time to be. I really dig the Christmas tree and, my favorite arch that I’ve never been to, Landscape Arch. 🙂

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