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Book review: 'Hiking Arches National Park' is a thorough guide to a crowded treasure

First Published      Last Updated Nov 21 2016 09:05 am

Outdoor writer pens thorough guide to a crowded treasure.

Some people wait their whole lives to visit Arches National Park. Some of us here in Utah are regulars.

Both groups will be able to find useful information in outdoor writer Tristan Higbee's new book, "Hiking Arches National Park: An Opinionated Guide to the Park's Best Hikes."

The subtitle's second word jumps at you, but Higbee's opinions are reserved for helping the reader determine how he or she wants to spend time and energy in Arches.

The viewpoints are helpful and not provocative. Anyone who has hiked the trail to Delicate Arch, for example, has had the same thought Higbee wrote — that Delicate Arch is a must-see American attraction, but, man, there are a lot of people on that trail.

Where Higbee succeeds is in documenting Arches' hiking trails, including the branches you may not know about or may have seen signs for but didn't explore. I've hiked the Devil's Garden Trail at least three times and didn't realize there was a spur to a Pine Tree Arch.

With deep descriptions, maps and photos Higbee took himself, readers can practically feel the park's silt their hiking boots. He also offers practical information, such as the GPS coordinates of the trailheads and whether there are toilets there.

Arches is receiving so many visitors the National Park Service is trying to figure out how to accommodate them all. So the highlights of "Hiking Arches National Park," which was published in June, may be two trails that don't require you passing through the main gate or paying the entrance fees.

One hike is Courthouse Wash — whose trailhead everyone passes coming or going from Moab but most probably dismiss as one of those roadside history kiosks. The 1-mile roundtrip is forgettable, Higbee opines, but the pictographs on a rock panel offers some of the best American Indian ancient art in the area.

The other highlight is Upper Courthouse Wash via Sevenmile Canyon. This hike is not on the Park Service's published list. Higbee warns you may be bushwhacking through vegetation on the second half of the hike, but that's also one of his points. The trail is so sparingly traveled it offers one of the few opportunities in Arches for solitude.

At 120 pages, "Hiking Arches National Park" is thin enough you won't have to choose whether to carry it or that extra bag of trail mix in your backpack.

The book is geared for the day hikers. There's no discussion of backcountry hikes or any of park's Jeep trails.

Those groups can probably find something useful in Higbee's book, too, even if it's just figuring out where the toilets are.


Twitter: @natecarlisle



“Hiking Arches National Park: An Opinionated Guide to the Park’s Best Hikes”

By Tristan Higbee

Published by Traction Guides


120 pages