Moab Winter Weekend | Saturday – Monday, December 23-25, 2023
After spending last weekend exploring the sandstone fins on the east side of the Colorado River in the Sand Flats Recreation Area, it was time for me to head over to Arches National Park for the extended Christmas weekend. While I usually only spend Christmas Day in Arches and then bounce around the desert canyons surrounding Moab for the rest of the holiday weekend, this year I wanted to spend the entire three days within the park. Unfortunately, Diane would not be joining me this year since she was scheduled to work all weekend and on the holiday, so I would be on my own. I left home early on Saturday morning and drove straight to Arches National Park through a consistent rain the entire way with some fog in the lower lying areas.
When I made it to Arches the weather was rainy, gloomy and cloudy, and there was no chance of a sunrise this morning.
I really wasn’t feeling up to hiking in the rain and getting soaked, so I drove through the park watching the clouds engulf the sandstone towers and cliffs.
The Three Gossips and a little waterfall.
According to the weather forecast, the rain was supposed to stop in the early afternoon so I headed into Moab for an early lunch and then returned to the park to get some hiking in. The rain did indeed stop shortly after noon and I went on a hike through the Petrified Dunes to Elephant Butte for the remainder of the day.
Although the sky was overcast for much of the hike, when I reached the base of Elephant Butte the sun did come out for a short time.
Looking over to Ham Rock and the Garden of Eden from the turnaround point on my hike.
Parade of Elephants
Cove of Caves
As I followed the wash back to my Jeep the sun dipped below the clouds one last time just before sunset and cast a golden light across the landscape.
Petrified Dunes at Sunset
Dragonfly Wash at Sunset
When I returned to my Jeep I quickly grabbed my long lens and took a few photos of the remaining light.
I drove over to a viewpoint of Balanced Rock and was a little too late for the best light, but the view and colors were still nice.
I spent most of Sunday exploring a couple new sections of the park that I had not been to before and ended the day wandering around a beautiful expanse of sandstone high above Park Avenue and the Courthouse Towers.
Dawn in Arches
The Chocolate Bars
Fins & Clouds
Full potholes on a large ledge above the Colorado River.
Cinnamon Roll Rock
Stone & Clouds
Courthouse Towers Country
Park Avenue View
Over the Top
Along the Rim
La Sal Mountains View
Arches Afternoon View
On Christmas morning I returned to the park one last time and made my way over to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead at dawn so I could go on my annual hike to Landscape Arch to make sure it’s still standing after another year.
Brontosaurus Fin at Dawn
Landscape Arch Trail
It was just me and a couple ravens watching the sunrise at Landscape Arch on Christmas morning.
Since there was no snow and ice on the ground this year, I continued hiking across the fins of the Primitive Trail out to Dark Angel.
Light and shadows on the fins below the trail.
Devil’s Garden Fins
After reaching Dark Angel and exploring the area a little bit, I returned the way I had come and then headed back home. It was another nice Christmas in Arches National Park!
Rock Art & Ruins of Arches National Park
These are just a couple photos of the ruins and rock art that I visited throughout the weekend.