Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Arches National Park - Ancient Sand Dunes and Balanced Rock Trail

 This is a continuation of a travel series of a road trip I took to Las Vegas in May with my husband.  To start at the beginning read THIS POST.    Here are the rest of this travel series posts in chronological order:

After we were done hiking Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park, we jumped back in the car and headed to the next destination on the park map which was basically just an overlook of Ancient Sand Dunes. The petrified dunes are a series of rock formations produced when ancient sand dunes hardened into stone under overlying material, which later eroded away.

The area is just a small turn look out where only a few cars will fit.  You just pull over, read the informative sign, and look at the magnificent view.  There is no trail here.

You can see some of the famous arches in the distance.

Many years ago this area was a huge desert, over time the layers of sand were compressed and made the impressive formations.

If the vastness of the space doesn't impress, the mountain view certainly will.

After our brief stop at the scenic overlook of the sand dunes, we then headed towards the next trail:  Balanced Rock Trail.

The main feature of the Balanced Rock trail is, you guessed it, a rock that is balanced.  There used to be two of these, but one fell down.  It was a smaller rock formation titled "Chip Off The Old Block".  Pretty funny eh?  It toppled over during the winter of 1975/76.

It makes you kinda nervous knowing that information when your walking this trail as this is a pretty big rock up there.  Notice the people walking on the trail?  That will give you some idea of the scale of this rock.  Fun fact:  The balanced top portion of the rock is as large as three school buses.   The total height of the rock formation is 128 feet with the balanced rock portion making up 55 of those feet.

This is a super easy paved trail that anyone can enjoy:  you basically just walk around in a circle.  It's 0.3 miles round trip:  the perfect hike for small children, handicapped, elderly, or the type of folk who just don't enjoy long hikes.  You can also enjoy this view from your car, as I noticed some people did.

The Balanced Rock Formation was formed through a process known as "weathering".

Although hikers are encouraged to stay on the trail, many hikers, including us, ventured off the trail to explore other parts of this area.  Notice the man at the base of the balanced rock?

In addition to the Balanced Rock formation, this hike is known for it's iconic, breath-taking views.

This short, easy trail is actually a breath of fresh air from the longer, more difficult trails in the park.  I appreciate parks that offer a variety of hiking trails.  Sometimes, especially if your hiking all day like we were, an easy, quick trail is really nice.

Just off the trail we spotted this other unique rock formation and decided to head in that direction.

We felt like adventurers, going off the beaten path and into the desert wilderness.  LOL!

At first I tried to get my husband to stop saying "But the sign says stay on the trail!".  This is him looking back at me saying "Oh come on, everyone else is doing it".  Yeah, whatever happened to "If everyone else is doing it does that make it right?" or "If everyone else is doing it, I can do it too even though it's wrong?".

Needless to say, he won this argument, and off we went!

We climbed way to the top of this monument.  It is so much steeper than it looks in pictures.  I literally was on my hands and knees trying to get on top of this ridge.

But it was worth it, because this was our view:

Once at the top, I just sat there and enjoyed the view.  My husband ventured on around this formation and explored further, while I just waited for him.  It was just getting a little too high and steep for my comfort level.

After our brief stop at Balanced Rock we got back into the car to head towards our next trail.  This was the view from the parking lot.  

I want to point out that this is a park you can enjoy and never leave your car.  The drive through this park alone is worth the admission price.  Most of the famous arches and formations can be viewed on the drive or at a scenic look-out.  It would be a great place to take someone who loves to appreciate nature but is limited physically.

Have a Great Day! Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE and Travel Tuesday!


  1. Oh Amy, it's so gorgeous out there!! Looks like a grand time!!

  2. Oh, wow! What a gorgeous place and that is interesting about the balanced rock and that the other rock on top fell off! It sounds like you both have fun venturing off the trail. :)


  3. Sand Dunes are the coolest. Thanks for this travel series.

    1. Thanks Cheryl, and your welcome! Sand Dunes are pretty cool!

  4. More breathtaking beauty and bluest skies! I would be the same way about not wanting to get in trouble for leaving the trail!

  5. Looks like you had an amazing time exploring the park. Beautiful scenery!

  6. Those rock formations are incredible! I can't believe how big they are!

  7. Wonderful shots, Amy. Brought back happy memories for me...
    Thanks for joining us at the Travel Tuesday meme. I was a little late posting the meme up this week, life gets in the way of fun things... However, it's up now and I look forward to your new contribution.

    1. Thanks Nick! I'll be over in a little bit to check out your post and link up!


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