Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 27, 2009

Corona Arch: 90 minutes of bliss

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 5:56 pm

I’m not one to pass up an arch hike.  Ten miles down the highway I pulled into a parking area marked “Corona Arch,” read that it was a strenuous 1.5 miles up the canyon, and grabbed my water bottle and camera.  65 degrees — perfect.  Ten minutes after eight.  The sages were releasing their heady perfumes after yesterday’s rain as I began my ascent.  In the distance someone, somewhere, was playing a doleful melody on a flute or recorder, and the notes reverberated off the sandstone walls with rich resonance.  All was well with the world.

I crossed the railroad tracks and zig-zagged through an anti-cattle and anti-ATV guard fence, happy to be adventuring on BLM land.  After the trail hit the rocky areas, it wasn’t too difficult to follow the cairns, but I noticed that this was different from trails the NPS would construct.  A little sketchier, a bit less defined, and definitely no maps available.  Oh, well!  What’s an adventure without a few added variables??

I met only two parties on my walk.  THIS is the way I like it; entire canyons to myself!  Forty minutes later, after ascending a ladder and pulling myself up some guy-wire cables on a steep part, I found myself staring across a huge bowl at magnificent Corona Arch.  Onward!  Must go through the arch!  Must conquer!

No sound except the twittering of the White-Throated Swifts accompanied me.  A small seep in the sandstone to my left drew me to explore the flora capitalizing on the constant moisture.  A cottonwood tree appeared to be growing out of sheer rock, again reminding me of my lessons on resilience.  Onward I stepped, now almost in the shadow of the giant span.  Must go through.  Must go under.

I stood beneath the organic shape and pondered the forces that wrought it.  Taking a seat on the far side in the shade of the canyon wall, I sat in utter silence.  I gazed.  I blinked.  I spotted future arches across the way.  And then I sang the Doxology: 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  

And I added the Great Amen.

The way back down, I thought, would be easy.  The cairns, however, were not as carefully placed, nor as plentiful, as I would have liked.  Because the sun was an hour higher in the sky, shadows were different; this threw me off.  When I could not find the next cairns, I made a mental note:  2/3 of water bottle left, no food, no sense of direction, hmm, this will not get me far.  A few seconds of general panic wanted to play out, but I told myself I could ALWAYS go back and find previous cairns.  “But nobody will find me!” I allowed myself to argue, and then… the cairns returned.  I had gotten off a bit to the side, and obviously so had others, as cairns began to appear on both trails.  Geez.  Scary.

There is nothing further I can say about the beautiful Corona Arch, except that you must explore it for yourself.  The crowds in Arches interfere with exquisite back-country sensations, so get off the beaten path, and take a risk (or two), and walk.  

approaching Corona Arch, 9 a.m.

approaching Corona Arch, 9 a.m.


Conquered it!

Conquered it!


A good ascent route

A good ascent route

ladder is going nowhere

ladder is going nowhere


  1. Another trail inhabited by lofty ladder occurs in The Needles District of Canyonlands National Park – Cave Springs trail. You could view the wooden shoe arch in route to journey a little far afield.

    Comment by visitmoabutah — June 28, 2009 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

  2. The Corona Arch looks spectacular in your first pic. As I reside in a city named Corona, I’m curious where the Corona Arch is???

    Thanks for posting,

    Cameron Novak
    Corona Real Estate Agent

    Comment by Corona Real Estate Agent — June 28, 2009 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  3. one would think that you would have purchased a GPS before you left for Arches…….. invaluable tool (until batteried run out)

    Comment by john — June 29, 2009 @ 7:57 am | Reply

    • No, John — I don’t believe in technology.

      Comment by kath56ryn — June 29, 2009 @ 8:00 am | Reply

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