I will fully admit while planning my trip to Arches National Park I did not plan my time well. I usually pick out the hikes before I go, reviewing the strenuousness of the hikes and then search photos on the internet to see where I should focus my time. I am not sure why I did not plan for Arches, I’m a planner and a planner should plan. It’s in the name. Perhaps I am turning into a more go with the flow kind of person. Ha ha, doubtful!
After a quick tour of the visitor center along with gathering some park information I filled up my water bladder for my day pack. The water station was located in the parking lot with a “thanks mom for the reminder” sign telling me how much water I should be drinking per hour while in extreme heat. Luckily it was April and the extreme heat had not set in yet… only mild heat, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. And yes I know I’m a sissy when it comes to heat. I don’t like hot temperatures and believe I should live as far north as possible. To quote my 9th grade math teacher “I’d rather be cold than hot because you can always put on more clothes but only take off so much”.
I left the visitors center and zig-zagged my way up the mountain road. When I reached the top I was greeted by a wide open park, which surprised me as the highway leading into Moab and Arches is lined with jetting high red rock that was vastly different from the space I saw before me.
As I had no set plans I stopped at the first turn out, the Park Avenue trailhead. The park map indicated that the trail was a moderate 2 mile (3.2 km) hike. It sounded like a good start and I headed down the hillside to the valley floor. Not my most favorite way to start a hike, descending, as you know you will have to ascend at the end of the hike. Luckily it was not too harsh of a descent and soon found myself walking among the towering “buildings” of Park Avenue.
The trail was not heavily traveled which was nice, especially since it was a fee free national park weekend. As I made my way to the end of the trail I passed by a couple who I briefly chatted with before we went our separate ways. I later ran into the same couple on my way back to the trailhead where the woman asked me “did you see the three gossips?” I did not know what she was referring to, three gossips? I didn’t see any teenage girls yip-yapping. I told the woman I hadn’t seen the gossips which resulted in her looking at me puzzled. According to her the three gossips were the whole point of her and her husband taking the trail.
Here is a photo of the three gossips that I took with my camera. Yes I stood there looking at the rock formation and had no idea what was going on. Clearly I should have stuck with the married couple so I knew what I was looking at.
The trail for the most part was in the shade during the morning, so I would recommend taking this trail in the morning to save yourself a “sweatfest”. The trail consisted of rock carved steps, dirt trails and sandstone. It is also handy to know that if you are traveling with a group that this trail can be made in to a one way as there are parking lots at both ends. It sort of sucks all the fun out of hiking with your companion but perhaps you can meet half way!
The Park Avenue Trail is located at the first turn out after entering the park. The park’s notes state that the trail should take 1.5 hours and has a 320 foot (98 m) elevation change. Bear in mind you are around 5000 feet so that small of an elevation change may seem more drastic when you take in to consideration how high up you are.