Monday 24 November 2008

Outhouse #8: Delicate Arch Viewpoint Toilet Comfortable But Crowded

Arches National Park
Delicate Arch Viewpoint Outhouse
2282 Resource Blvd
Moab, UT USA

Where is it?

Follow the main road through Arches National Park until you get to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint stop. Note: This is not to be confused with the Delicate Arch trail stop, which lets you hike to the arch itself. This is for the viewpoint, which lets you look at the arch from about 500 feet away.

The outhouse itself is located in the parking lot of the viewpoint area. Really, you can't miss it, since it's the only building there (unless you count the many campers you'll come across).

What's it like?

Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in Arches National Park, mostly because it stands alone atop a sandstone ridge as if posing for photographers. It does indeed look very delicate and is quite amazing to marvel at, considering that it's the result of wind erosion. Though, upon closer inspection (and I didn't walk up to it, only looked at it from the viewpoint areas), you can see that it's really quite mammoth in size (compared to the people standing beside it), which in a way makes me think it's a lot sturdier than its name suggests. Regardless, an amazing site.

The viewpoint area isn't much more than that. There are two trails to be taken here -- one that goes about a half mile, and is flat and gravel graded, and lets you look at the arch from a bottom vantage. Not a great view, but not bad and certainly mindful of those who can't make the actual hike to the arch or take the other trail here.

The second trail is about a mile long and starts out easily enough but soon takes an upward turn, with some steep inclines, taking you up to a higher vantage that lets you look at the arch from the top of a ridge that's just across a small valley from the arch itself. This was a pretty hard hike, mostly because you expected it to be easier after tackling the first one. But the inclines are steep and the heat of the park gets to you, making it a much more strenuous walk than you first expected.

Ironically, the views aren't that different from above vs. the one below, which makes me wonder why I just didn't take the plunge and hike to the arch itself. I imagine the hike couldn't have been much more strenuous than what we already did to get to the higher viewpoint.

Anyway, the outhouse in the parking lot here is definitely a step up from some of the other outhouses we've visited. Not quite on par with the one visited at Rainbow Point in Bryce Canyon, which was borderline divine, but not to far off from that level of quality either.

As with the other outhouses we've visited, this one is pretty simplistic in design: Small chamber with a compost toilet, a toilet paper dispenser, some handicap support beams, a vent in the wall and a warning sign, asking you not to throw trash down the toilet.

About the sign: This one, actually, was a bit more honest in its message than the others we've seen, reading, "PLEASE do not throw trash in toilet. It is extremely difficult to remove. THANK YOU."

Ironically, the bathroom also had a trash can in it, to help people fulfill this request -- something nearly all other outhouses seem to lack. Normally, the trash can is outside them, but it actually makes more sense to have it inside here. Go figure.

The walls here are white, and the floor is blue-painted concrete. The commode sits on a little step/elevated area on the floor, which looks nice but actually may cause trouble for those with shorter legs. This is not one of those environments, really, where you dangle your feet over the side and have your legs touching the side of the commode -- these are unisex environments, so you always have to be mindful about men who miss the mark.

On the whole, the place is pretty clean and odor-free -- and I give the designers kudos on the later, seeing that the toilet itself is placed right next to a vent in the wall. Sure, there is a tinge of urine here, but that vent really does a good job in airing the place out some.

Little things like that elevate the experience, to be honest. But be warned that this is one of the most popular stops in the park, and it is very crowded here. There was a line for the toilet when I visited, which kept me waiting a little longer than I would have liked (not like you can just pee on a rock somewhere, because the area itself doesn't have many spots for privacy, no trees and such).

Also, once you're inside, you can hear the people outside quite well, and if they're in a hurry to get in, they will not be shy about sharing those thoughts with it. And if you've got some noisy rumblings in your tummy that are waiting to get out, they will hear every last pop out of you.

Of course, your options are limited here, but it's still something to consider when planning your visit.

Marks out of 10:

7. A comfortable outhouse with some simple, yet well-planned, design improvements. If only the outside world wasn't so apparent inside. Still, this is a better place to visit than some indoor bathrooms I've been to.

Comments to the Management:

Not sure what to recommend here. If you could increase the quiet factor and separate the outside world from the inside world better, that would be great. But at the same time, this is just an outhouse, and it has to stay as that.... so I'm clueless here, I'm afraid.

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