If you ever want a psychology experiment, go to Mesa Arch in Canonylands. All the reviews said it would be busy, and it was. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the view or the people watching more.
I woke up around 4:30 a.m. – no alarm. It seems to be a regular thing nowadays, but it isn’t so bad when you are operating off sunlight and going to bed earlier.
I parked, and there were maybe 5-6 other cars in the parking lot. I started hiking and passed one couple. I was the first one to the arch by a few minutes.
Then, the hoard of people started arriving.
Slowly, people formed an outer circle around the arch to allow more people to see it and take pictures.
Then, a man arrived with a tripod and set up his gear right in front of everybody and their photos. Then, a woman arrived and said, “Is this where you are going to stay set up?” He replied, “Yes.” Then, she sat right next to him.
You could feel the tension and the air harden all around. After a little bit of time, people started asking if they would move, rotate in and out of the shots, and heckling them. As one person put it, “It’s OUR National Parks.”
I would say there were whispers for a good 15-20 minutes, but there was outright, blatant talking about how they were being rude and inconsiderate.
After a while, the man moved. I think he couldn’t take the awkwardness anymore.
The woman stayed. She said, “I’ve been researching and ready for this specific spot since I planned the trip.” Quite a few people threatened to go stand in front of her shot and call it their shot. Nobody did.
After some time, she moved, but it wasn’t before both the man and the woman (not together) said they would move earlier, but only if they could have that spot back.
I’m not sure what the right system is for something like this, but it seems reasonable that people will rotate in and out of spots to allow others to experience the same thing. Most people seemed on board with that system and followed it, except those two.
Anyway, if anybody wants good people watching or wants to run a psychology experiment, Mesa Arch in Canyonlands would be a superb spot to do it.
After Mesa Arch, I drove up looking for the White Rim Trail, another short hike that is about 1.6 miles round trip. On the way, the lighting looked incredible to my right, so I pulled off and did another easy hike about 3.6 miles. There was basically no elevation gain, which was what made it easy. I partially ran and partially walked. I was trying to make good time to make it to the Murphy Outlook while the sun was reflecting and casting shadows on the rocks. I made it in time.
Then, I continued on to White Rim Trail and did another short hike.
Now, I am back at the picnic tables typing this up. It’s shaded, so it’s a nice spot.
Instead of doing Arches the next day, I decided to squeeze Arches in this day. Unfortunately, when I first went, the park was closed. They put up a sign that says it’s busy and to come back in 3-5 hours.
I hung out at my camping spot for a bit and then headed back a few hours later and was able to get into Arches.
I did a few short hikes and drove around. Arches is pretty, but I’m not sure why it gets the amount of attention it gets. Once you’ve seen a couple arches, it feels the same.
I stayed until sunset and went to see Delicate Arch, the quintessential arch people think of when they think of Arches.
Oh, and remember the right system for taking photos? It’s a line.
People lined up and rotated having their photos taken in front of the arch. There appeared to be no issues.