Day 31 – Electric Storms In Canyon Country

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Miles To Date: 
4 524

Today was the start of our trip around the national parks of the South West. We left Salt Lake City as soon as we were ready so we could make it to Arches national park in time to see some of the park in the late afternoon, and a nice sunset. The drive started out pleasantly, with the landscape again changing to what is known as ‘Canyon Country’. This sees the mountains replaced by sharp cliffs, and more desert-like terrain. The rocks that make up the cliffs are amazing colours, with red rock being the most striking.

Unfortunately after about an hour on the road we started seeing some ominous clouds on the horizon in our direction of travel. In the UK this would signal some rain en route, but here such clouds signal an extreme electric storm – worse than anything we had seen before. The most intimidating aspect was the sharp lightning bolts which kept cutting across the sky. On-off torrential rain slowed us down quite a bit (we couldn’t even see the road), but when we finally got to Arches things were looking a bit clearer.

Our first stop in Arches was the visitor centre, where we saw an introductory film about how the park was formed from thousands of years of erosion. The bit that surprised me most was that before about 1900 Westerners didn’t even know the area existed – probably the most recently discovered place we have ever visited. We then drove up into the park to see the arches. The first stop was the ‘Balancing Rock’, which looks exactly like you would expect. Next we headed to the window arches but the weather was getting bad again, which made taking decent photos difficult. Once the rain started pouring we decided to give up and head to our accommodation in Moab.

Moab is very similar to West Yellowstone – a town which seems to exist solely for tourism (and is overpriced accordingly). Our motel is decent though, and we spent the extra time indoors sorting out our hotels in Vegas. Tomorrow the forecast is for the usual Autumn weather here – bright sun in the high 20s or low 30s. Hopefully we have a more successful Arches visit as a result!

Photo of the day: the balancing rock. This was about the best weather we saw all day!