My wife Darlene and I drove to Moab to photograph Arches National Park and were unaware that four-wheel-drive roads exist within its boundaries. We'd heeded Edward Abbey's admonition to "get out of that tin can" and hiked to a dozen of the salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone arches, including Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch.
Later, at the visitor center, we spoke with the park ranger, who offered helpful advice about traveling the road from Balanced Rock to Tower Arch.
The next day, Darlene and I tried our luck on the road to Tower Arch. The paved road took us north, past Balanced Rock and the Fiery Furnace area of the park, toward the Devil's Garden. Near Broken Arch, we turned left onto a gravel road.
It's an easy 7.7-mile drive on two-lane Salt Valley Road to reach the trailhead for the hike to Tower Arch. The sparse vegetation--juniper trees, Mormon Tea, blackbrush, and cliffrose--blended into the rust-colored, sandy soil stretching ahead and to the north. Skyline Arch appeared on the eastern horizon to our right.
As we gained elevation, vegetation decreased, and the sandy soil took on a greenish cast. We saw red-rock cliffs in the distance. At mile seven, a 4x4 dirt road branched left. We continued on Salt Valley Road to the trailhead and hiked for over three miles to Tower Arch.
After 1.8 miles off-road, we reached an intersection with the road from Balanced Rock but continued on. The road twisted and turned upward, with the Entrada Sandstone cliffs of Klondike Bluffs above us and on our right.