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Christmas in Arches 2017

Christmas Day | Monday, December 25, 2017

On Christmas morning Diane and I got up early, had some breakfast, loaded up the Jeep and then headed into Arches National Park for our annual Christmas tradition of hiking to Landscape Arch to make sure it’s still standing for another year. If you are interested, you can see our previous trips here: [2016] [2015] [2014]. During our drive through the park to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead we caught a pretty nice sunrise from a few overlooks along the way.

Magenta-colored light beams break through the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Light Behind The La Sals

After a few minutes the magenta-colored light turned to a golden yellow and intensified.

Breaking Free

The first light of the day strikes the fins of the Fiery Furnace.

Fiery Furnace Shadows

A beautiful sunrise over the Fiery Furnace with the Book Cliffs on the horizon.

Fiery Furnace Sunrise

Early morning light over a snow-covered Winter Camp Ridge beyond Salt Wash.

Winter Camp Ridge Sunrise

Beautiful golden light over Castle Valley. If you look closely you can just make out the top of Castle Rock (Castleton Tower).

Golden Light

We made a quick stop at Skyline Arch since it was looking good in the early morning light.

Skyline Arch Sunrise

After stopping a few times for photos of the sunrise along Arches Scenic Drive, we did eventually make it to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead where we started hiking down the snow-packed trail to Landscape Arch. It was early enough in the morning that we didn’t pass anyone else along the way.

Hiking the snow-packed Devil’s Garden Trail on our way to Landscape Arch.

Devil's Garden Trail

Devil’s Garden Fins

Devil's Garden Fins

Diane hikes ahead of my as we near Landscape Arch.

Devil's Garden Winter Hiking

It looks like Landscape Arch is still standing after another year on Christmas Day, 2017. We had the arch to ourselves for a little bit and then returned the way we had come. We decided not to visit any of the other nearby arches this time around.

Landscape Arch, Christmas 2017

A sandstone serpent covered with snow.

Serpent Hoodoo

Next we headed over the the Eye of the Whale trailhead where I had hoped we could explore some of Herdina Park. First, we hiked into the Eye of the Whale and it appeared that we were the first people to visit since the snow had fallen. We soon realized that it would probably be too treacherous to hike around on the steep sandstone covered with snow and ice, even with our microspikes, so we cancelled those plans and will return to the area when it is snow-free. We did go for one more short hike along the outer edge of Herdina Park so we could visit Leaping Arch before we left.

At the Eye of the Whale Arch Trailhead near Herdina Park.

Eye of the Whale Trailhead Sign

The view from within the Eye of the Whale.

Eye of the Whale

Snow-covered fins along the edge of Herdina Park.

Herdina Park Fins

A view of Leaping Arch from below.

Leaping Arch

By the time we returned to the pavement, Arches was starting to get busier and since I didn’t have any intentions of sticking around for sunset this evening, we decided to call it a day early and headed home. This would give us a little time to relax before going back to work on Tuesday.

>> Christmas in Arches 2017 Photo Gallery


  1. AJ Meyer
    AJ Meyer January 28, 2018

    Your photography and stories are all so wonderful! And it looked like a beautiful time to see Arches. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Glen Judge
    Glen Judge February 13, 2018

    We missed you by a day! We went up to Moab the 26th through the 30. The snow was beautiful!

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