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Christmas in Arches 2016

Christmas Day | Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ham Rock & Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock and Ham Rock shortly before sunset in Arches National Park.

Since it’s become our annual tradition, Diane and I would again spend Christmas Day hiking in Arches National Park. (Previous trip reports from 2015 and 2014.) Overnight it had rained pretty hard in Moab and the forecast was also calling for snow. When we left the hotel before sunrise there was still no snow and the ground. However, as we drove into the park it did start to snow pretty hard and would continue to do so until we reached Landscape Arch in Devil’s Garden. It was very windy and cold out during this hike, and even though the sun would come out later in the morning and the temperature would rise a little, the wind kept blowing making it feel much colder out than it really was.

Driving through a snowstorm below Skyline Arch.

Skyline Snowstorm

The trail to Landscape Arch was covered with a thin layer of fresh snow and we had the place to ourselves this morning. We wouldn’t see anyone else on the trail until we were almost back to the parking lot.

Landscape Arch Trail

Landscape Arch is still standing on Christmas Day 2016.

Landscape Arch 2016

After returning to the trailhead, we drove over to the closed gate in the campground and started our hike on the Broken Arch Loop Trail. There were more people camped in the park than I had expected! As we neared the actual trailhead the sky started to clear out a little and the sun came out.

We took the short side trail to visit Tapestry Arch.

Tapestry Arch

Then we continued down the main trail and followed it through Broken Arch.

Broken Arch

Diane hikes ahead into the fins to complete the loop.

Broken Arch Loop Trail

Fins & Snow

Fins & Snow

The loop seemed much shorter than I remember it, but I probably haven’t been on this trail in about eight years or so. Next we drove over to the Salt Valley Overlook and had a little lunch before driving to the Courthouse Towers Trailhead so we could hike up Park Avenue.

A view of the Three Gossips and Baby Arch as we started the hike. By this time of the day much of the snow had melted away.

Three Gossips

The Organ reflected in a pothole.

The Organ Reflection

View from the lower Park Avenue Trail.

Courthouse Towers

We hiked up the trail until we were just below the upper overlook and then returned the way we had come. I guess that Diane and I had never stopped at the upper overlook together before, so we drove around to quickly check it out.

Park Avenue Shadows

Park Avenue Shadows

We made a brief stop at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint as we made our way over to The Windows Section for the rest of the evening.

La Sal Mountains Viewpoint

We battled strong winds in the Garden of Eden and explored this area more than I have in the past.

Garden of Eden

Exploring Eden

Serpentine Arch

Serpentine Arch

A cool little hoodoo with Serpentine Arch to the right.

Little Hoodoo

A closeup view of Turret Arch taken along the road to The Windows. I had to wait for the light to shine on the arch and for a large group of people to leave.

Turret Arch

When we reached The Windows we decided to hike around them on the Primitive Trail. You can see light shining through Seagull Arch in the background.

Seagull Arch

The wind was brutal, but the scenery was spectacular!

Primitive Trail

As we came up over the pass between the North Window and the Parade of Elephants, we were greeted with this view over Castle Valley.

Castle Valley View

These nearby fins also looked great in the late afternoon light and cloudy sky.

Evening Fins

Leaving The Windows Section after completing our hike.

Windows Road

The light and sky was looking really good as we drove back past Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock

A distant view of Elephant Butte (the highest point in Arches National Park). You can also see the light shining through Cove Arch on the right.

Elephant Butte

A beautiful Christmas sunset in Arches National Park.

Arches Christmas Sunset

One last view over the Petrified Dunes to the La Sal Mountains as we headed out after a great day in the park.

Petrified Dunes

>> Christmas in Arches Photo Gallery

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