Friday, January 22, 2016

When Arches National (Monument) Park was chained shut

By Lynn Arave

"Vandalism in Arches forces action" was a May 3, 1962 headline in the Moab Times Independent Newspaper.
"A two-month siege of destructive vandalism in the Arches National Monument confines has forced park officials to chain the entrance of the scenic attraction and ban visitors from the area from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.," the newspaper reported.
Signs destroyed, toilets filled with rocks, extreme litter and damage to a foot bridge were all acts of vandalism prompting the action.
Of course, this closure didn't last for long. The place was designated a National Park in 1971 and by then, vandalism had eased up.

                                                                   Photo by Liz Arave Hafen.
-Delicate Arch, the most famous icon in the park, was originally called "The Chaps" by area cowboys. "Bloomer's" was another nickname for the feature as well.
It looks likely that it was in 1934 that the feature was dubbed "Delicate Arch." The local newspaper, the Times Independent, called the feature "a beautiful delicate arch" in a January 18, 1934 story. That name stuck and sounded far better than the other two monikers.
Hiking to Delicate Arch was far different prior to 1953. A different trail was used then that required the use of handrails. It was in 1953 that the current trail was implemented, where it accesses the Arch from the north.

                       Today's trail over slickrock to Delicate Arch.

-To access Arches before 1939, today's back entrance -- far north of today's main entrance -- was often used. The road off Highway 191 at a low point of what was then known as Moab Canyon, was then built steeply up the mountain side.

That road was extended in 1948 to reach past Delicate Arch and to Devil's Garden. By 1958, that road was paved. However, it would be the late 1980s before the side road to the Delicate Arch trailhead and lookout were also paved.

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