Hiking the Trails of Arches National Park in Utah

There is no doubt that Arches National Park in eastern Utah near the town of Moab is one of the most beautiful parks in the United States. With so many fascinating geological features, there are literally incredible sights around every corner as you drive through the park. There is one road that will take you through the heart of the park with a couple of side roads that lead to specific attractions and you can certainly see a lot that the park has to offer by simply driving through the park and pulling over at certain viewing areas. To really enjoy everything that the park has to offer, though, we’d highly recommend that you get out and hike a few of the trails.

Landscape Arch – One of Our Favorite Arches
Pine Tree Arch

Devils Garden Trail – This trail is one of the most popular trails within the park because of the diversity of the trail as well as the number of arches that can be seen on the trail. The first part of the trail is considered easy and also provides views of three arches, including the Landscape Arch, which was one of our favorites. After reaching the Landscape Arch, the trail becomes more difficult as you head toward Double O Arch and then the second half of the loop is extremely difficult where you need to rock scramble and there are steep slopes. For obvious reasons, many people only go as far as Landscape Arch, which was what we did as well.

The Famous Delicate Arch
Hikers Heading Up an Exposed Rock Face in Utah

Delicate Arch Trail – There are viewing areas that you can go to by car to see the famous Delicate Arch (which is seen on the state’s license plate), but to see it up close, you should take the popular Delicate Arch Trail. The trail is listed as moderate and, with the exposure to the sun, steep rock faces, and some narrow ledges towards the end, it is definitely not an easy trail. The views are definitely worth the effort as you gain a little over 600 feet in elevation with panoramic views in all directions. The highlight, of course, is Delicate Arch where people take turns having their pictures taken in front of the arch.

Sand Dune Arch
Broken Arch

Sand Dune and Broken Arch Trail – This is a relatively short trail that can be found near the Devils Garden Campground. The trail first goes by the Sand Dune Arch, which gets its name from the sand that surrounds it. It then turns into a loop that will take you by Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch. If you want to keep it really short, you can visit the Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch and then return without doing the full loop.

Getting a Sense of the Size at Windows
Various States of Erosion

Regardless of which trails you choose, you will truly appreciate the size and beauty of the many arches if you take the time to hike amongst them. Seeing how nature has carved the rocks through wind and rain erosion is certainly a wonderful experience whether you hike the trails or not. Arches National Park is certainly one of our favorite national parks and if you are a photographer, the variety of images that you can capture are truly endless.

Exploring the Amazing Caves in Vietnam

We saw many fascinating things during our trip to Vietnam, but one of the things that we found interesting were the different caves that we explored. We went to caves in the Ninh BinhPprovince as well in Halong Bay. Some of them were caves where we went through the cave by boats or canoes as well as others where we walked through the caves. Each one of them was a unique experience in their own ways and it was it was interesting not just from a geological perspective, but from a cultural perspective as well. There are other caves that can be explored, but these are the ones that we visited during our time in Vietnam.

Going Through a Cave
Rowing with Their Feet in Vietnam

Tam Coc Cave – One of the more popular day tours from Hanoi is to go to the Ninh Binh Province, especially to do the Tam Coc caves (which actually means three caves). There are a couple of styles of boats that will take you along the Ngo Dong River, but the ones where the oarsman rows with their feet are different from anything else that we’ve done. The caves themselves are quite interesting as they have been carved out by the river and they actually create tunnels that take you under the mountain by boat.

The Second Chamber, “Serene Castle”
Contrasting Formations

Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave – Of the many fascinating places that we visited during our Halong Bay tour, seeing Sung Sot or Surprise Cave was certainly unique. There are many caves throughout the region, although most of the other ones that we visited were on the water. Surprise Cave is completely different as it is more of what we would consider to be a cavern with large ceilings, stalagmites, and stalactites. It is another very popular location, so the earlier in the day that you can arrive, the better off you will be.

Exiting Huong Tich Cave
Chua Trong Inside the Cave

Huang Tich Cave – Perfume Pagoda is a complex of Buddhist temples located about a couple of hours outside of Hanoi in Vietnam. At the heart of the complex is Huong Tich Cave and within the cave is Chua Trong or the Inner Temple. During the festival time, from late January through early March, thousands of people visit the temple and the 2.5 km (1.5 mile) path that takes you up to the cave is lined with vendor stalls selling food, gifts, and objects to use as an offering. In order to reach the Perfume Pagoda complex, you need to take an almost hour-long boat ride (less if you take a motorized boat) through the beautiful countryside.

Amazing Views of the Ninh Binh Province
The Lower Viewing Point

Mua Cave – A visit to Mua Cave in the Ninh Binh Province isn’t only about seeing the cave, many of other caves that we saw were more impressive, but it is all about climbing the over 540 stairs to see the incredible views of the countryside. To be clear, the steps are steep and uneven throughout much of the ascent to the top, so bring plenty of water and take your time. Despite the effort to reach the summit, the views along the way as well as when you reach the top are well worth the muscle pain. At the base of the mountain is a beautiful park with statues of horses and a fountain. It is a perfect place to sit in the shade and unwind after completing the long climb up the staircase.

Entering the Cave
Monkeys Walking Along the Shore

Luan Cave – Another popular excursion when doing a cruise on Halong Bay is to explore Luan Cave (Hang Luan). You can either go by rowboat or by kayak depending on your preference, but either way it is an enjoyable experience. After passing through the cave, you enter an isolated inlet with stunning cliffs and turquoise water. Near the mouth of the cave, you will likely find several monkeys who climb across the rocky shore hoping for some treats from the many tourists who visit.

Boats Going One After Another Through the Caves of Ninh Binh Province
Tiger Cave

There are obviously many unique places to see during a visit to Vietnam, but if you take the time to get out of the cities and go to these interesting caves, you will be well rewarded. Seeing them was certainly a highlight of our two-week trip to this wonderful country.

The Unique Scenery of Hiking in Colorado

Besides the physical benefits of hiking, the main reason to go hiking is to enjoy the beauty of nature. Without a doubt, the scenery in the mountains of Colorado is absolutely stunning. It is fascinating to see the way that the geological forces have joined with the forces of rain, wind, and time to create such unique features in the landscape. People will often see patterns in everything that they look at as it is a natural way for our minds to make sense of the world. When you look at a trail map, it is not uncommon to see names given to natural landmarks as a way to identify them based upon what people feel it looks like. This is obviously true around the world as well and we enjoy looking at some of them and asking ourselves does it really look like the name that it has been given.

Kissing Camels in Garden of the Gods Park
Up Close, the Kissing Camels Are Not as Obvious
Hiking Towards Monument Rock
Monument Rock in Colorado
These Rocks May or May Not Have a Name
Paint Mines Interpretive Park near Colorado Springs