After viewing the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, I drove for a while and spent that night at a rest stop on the Interstate, which probably doesn’t sound particularly appealing, especially since I was sleeping in my tiny Fiat 500 (converted into a little camper-car), but the views from the rest stop were quite phenomenol. At this point, I was in the heart of some of the grand scenery of southern Utah — and most significantly, I was well off the beaten path, so I could take in the views the way the writer Edward Abbey and other writers and desert monastics have always talked about: as a reflective, solitary endeavor.
Well, not as much of a contemplative experience as Edward Abbey enjoyed. Abbey spent some time in Arches, working for the Park, and wrote a good bit about the experience. He warned about too many tourists spoiling the serenity of the open spaces. He felt he was watching it happen — and I’m sure he was — but things have only become more commercialized since Abbey’s day, with population growth and so on.
I encountered plenty of folk, by the numbers, and of course the Visitor’s Center was bustling, but Arches is quite spread out, so I felt like I had enough space to enjoy it. I’m sure Edward Abbey would look at the hundreds (and perhaps thousands during peak days?) of tourists going through each day and consider it a lost cause, but I had a good day. Well, a good half day, because I was also going to work in another National Park in the afternoon — Canyonlands, which is a neighbor Park to Arches, just a scenic drive away.