Corona Arch   Leave a comment

This is an arch in southeastern Utah that lies not far from the Colorado River.  It is a very beautiful arch, appearing as “Little Rainbow Bridge” on some maps.  This is because it resembles the much larger but similarly shaped Rainbow Bridge near Lake Powell.  It’s funny, but the BLM (Federal agency governing range land) has signs warning people not to try to repeat the antics of rock-climbers who’ve apparently posted videos of their friends swinging from the arch.  When I visited the span I saw that it was quite easy (for a rock-climber at least) to rig up a sort of rope swing over the arch.  The background scenery is spectacular, so it’s no wonder some of the videos went viral.

Corona Arch in Utah

Corona Arch in Utah

I had my own little “extreme” adventure there, making an unplanned loop out of what should have been an easy, out and back 3-mile hike.  I mistakenly followed the railroad tracks, ending up well below the arch.  I had to make some rock-climbing moves just to get back up to the trail.  The weather was clear and the sun rose quickly. Despite the delay I arrived at Corona in time to get some shots as the sun was just hitting the arch.

The thing I found cool about the arches (it has a companion, smaller Bowtie Arch) was that the railroad passes right by them.  The rail line, which services the potash mine and plant just downstream along the Colorado River, cuts through a narrow gorge in the towering red rock cliffs.  There are several places where significant blasting and clearing was necessary to get the railroad through.  This is extreme country to try and put a rail line in.  It was morning, before coffee.  When my body is forced to move at this time of day my mind wanders.  I imagined the railroad workers having fun with their dynamite, daily views of the arches that they probably grew tired of.

The settling ponds for the potash mine along the Colorado River near Moab are set off against a colorful sunset sky.

The settling ponds for the potash mine along the Colorado River near Moab are set off against a colorful sunset sky.

Then I began to imagine the uranium prospectors scrambling through this area, using the arch as a landmark.  I imagined the first white explorers. Perhaps John Wesley Powell saw the arch on a walk up from a Colorado River campsite.  The arch isn’t visible from the river, but Powell was not the type to miss things.  Then I imagined the Native Americans.  The Fremont or the Navajo coming into the country from the north and seeing this arch, which the native Pueblo people had known about for a long time.

As you can see I had some time to ponder all this while trying to figure out how to ascend up to the level of the arch.  I did eventually make it, and gratefully walked back on the regular trail.  There are several cables and a ladder, plus footholds carved in the sandstone.  It’s funny to see all these aids (most of which aren’t really needed) when you’ve just pulled sketchy free-climbing manoeuvres.  I think I need to leave this place of cliffs, this region where Wile E. Coyote would feel at home – before I hurt myself!

Dusk along the Colorado upstream from Corona Arch.

Dusk along the Colorado upstream from Corona Arch.

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