Five thirty came early but we were ready for it. We dressed hurriedly and started out for the Arches National Park. The beautiful drive the afternoon before with all the curves and scenery still had the curves but it was pitch black now with just a slight promise of the dawn if you looked above the dark cliffs.
The park is open 24/7 but the ticket booths were unmanned at this hour. We discovered they didn’t start collecting entrance fees until 8 a.m. Using the map from our AAA book, we easily found the area where we wanted to watch the sunrise. There are lots of areas suggested for it but we chose the Windows.
The Windows consists of several large arches, a couple which overlook a scenic view thus creating the effect of looking through a window. At the right time of the year, the sun will rise right in the window. This was not that time. We could see that it would rise more to the south of the window.
While we awaited the appearance of the sun, we explored a bit and enjoyed the quiet of the morning. A jackrabbit was having his breakfast and seemed unperturbed by our presence. There were only a couple of other people there and everyone was quiet either in reverence of the breaking dawn or still half asleep.
The sunrise over the horizon was beautiful but the spectacular part came when the rays of the sun illuminated the interior of the window arch. All about us the landscape began to glow red and orange with the morning rays. Off in the distance from our higher vantage point we could see more sandstone monuments take on the bright colors of the sun.
A tummy growled and we knew it was time to head into town and have some breakfast. We’d be back in a little while and begin to explore this wonder more thoroughly.