Friday, January 2, 2015

Colonnade Arch (Five-Hole Arch): A tough place to visit

5 hole arch over the green river
Colonnade Arch shows 3 of its 5 holes
Colonnade arch fascinated me from the moment I first saw it in a photograph.  I had never seen anything like it:  3 windows opening out over an infinite view of canyons and mazes.  It took a little while to figure out exactly where this arch is located.  It appeared promising enough to me that I decided to special detour into the San Rafael Desert on my way to Canyonlands' Needles District just to visit this spot.

I began hiking early in the morning and was deceived by the landscape as well as other trails in the area.  I hiked down towards the edge of the cliff and did not find my destination.  Looking around in all directions, I found it high on a cliff above and to the east.  I hiked back up and up and up.  You must be above this arch and then descend to it.  This can only be reached by downclimbing from above.  The problem is that you can't see if you're in the right place.  As a result, I down climbed  multiple areas without finding this.  After about one hour of searching, I finally found the right niche to climb down and visit this special place.

Knowing what I know now, I could find it much easier but the first visit is not easy.
san rafael desert arch
Room with a View:  Colonnade Arch
After finding this location, I got some time to enjoy the view.  This is also called Five Hole Arch because their windows looking out to the south and their 2 windows in the roof.  This allows light to come inside more easily than you would expect.  It is impossible to include all 5 arches in one photograph.  The most I could do is 3.  I also enjoyed focusing on just one window (the furthest east) for my "room with a view" shot.
Five hole arch sunrise
Colonnade Arch Columns

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