Arches National Park

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.

Arches is a very wide-open and I enjoyed an easy drive through the Park
Southwestern Spaces: Red Rock and Weird Formations
The sands and imprints of time — it’s always refreshing to be still and meander about, in spots like these

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.

Happy camper, third Park in Southern Utah
Red rock rendered in black and white, Arches National Park 2018 roadtrip

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

7 thoughts on “Arches National Park”

    1. Thanks. It was a great trip, all the way around. My body was getting really run down, the more I traveled, but I still felt a good bit of serenity, especially after the Utah trip. The magic of that place stayed with me. And it was so good to be together with Matt, Kelly & Co.


        1. I am fortunate to spend my summers in Alaska, in the middle of Wrangell St. Elias National Park. It’s the largest National Park in North America and what is better is that it’s off the beaten path, so far as tourism is concerned. It’s not as crowded as Denali, for example…. So there are some spots to go to view wilderness in the spirit of Edward Abbey, but you have to travel quite a distance.


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