By Eilene Lyon
It’s been decades since I swore off of Arches National Park, though I drive through Moab regularly. Like Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Yellowstone, it’s become one of those places being loved to death. Like “I want to go have a special wilderness experience…with 10,000 other people.” NOT.
Fortunately, the West is rich with public lands and scenic wonders not found in the National Parks. About six years ago, I picked up a brochure called “Aztec Arches: Gateway to Over 300 Sandstone Arches…and counting!” Aztec, New Mexico, is the nearest town to my home when driving south.
Last week I read that the Seniors Outdoors! club had someone leading a hike to some of the arches, so I quickly signed up. It does help to go with someone who’s been before. The accesses are via gas-well roads, and the hikes are not marked with any signage.
On Monday, I met the group of nine other hikers–all new to me, but a great bunch–at County Rd 2300 in San Juan County. From there we headed up Cox Canyon to visit several arches on a loop hike. We then drove to nearby Cedar Hill to visit the formations in Ditch Canyon. Here’s a reverse order tour:
This next image is from Arches National Park. It is the iconic Delicate Arch found on many Utah license plates.
Now compare that to Cox Arch:
Okay, 5 down, 295 to go!
Feature image: Cedar Hill Arch in Ditch Canyon (E. Lyon 2021)