Marketing Moab

June 11, 2011. I’m here in Moab, Utah, enjoying some quality adventure travel with my daughter Nora, who’s the only member of the family other than me who’s even remotely interested in anything with “adventure” in its description.

We spent the afternoon touring one of our nation’s best-loved monuments, Arches National Park. But as we encountered arch after spectacular arch, it occurred to us that the National Park Service is probably underselling Arches. Who wants to travel thousands of miles and endure stifling heat to see something called “Delicate Arch”? Sure, it’s so beautiful that Utah put it on its license plate, but that makes it even more critical to market the arch in a way that makes folks actually want to visit–after all, you see the arch on the plates every day.

We’ve decided to rename the most prominent monuments in Arches in ways that should attract more visitors.

One of the first things visitors see as they enter the park is a spectacular wall with unique stone formations. The official map of Arches calls it The Great Wall, but China’s already got one of those, am I right? What China doesn’t have is something called The Blobular Wall, which also happens to be a more accurate description of what the wall looks like:

In a short while, visitors drive by Rock Chimneys. Since nearly every park in the known universe has a “chimney rock,” this isn’t exactly playing to Arches’ strengths. Again, we think Blobby Chimneys is a name that reflects the true uniqueness of these formations.

A mile or so up the road is another incredible formation with the devastatingly boring moniker of Balanced Rock. We’ve renamed it The Precarious Orb, a much better way to describe its haunting, otherwordly presence.

Next visitors arrive at a viewing area surrounded by more than eight different arches. We’ve renamed the Windows in a way that’s much more descriptive and enticing: The Eyebrows.

Similarly, Turret Arch is named after a word which few potential visitors will recognize. We’ve gone with a name that’s part of four of the highest-grossing motion pictures in history: Pirate Arch.

Across the way from these arches is one of the most famous and most boringly-named formations in the entire park: Double Arch. These arches are so massive that it’s almost hard to mentally process. And even if one of them fell down (as is likely to occur eventually due to natural forces), there’s another, equally grand one ready to take its place. Thus, we’ve renamed them Epic Arch and Insurance Arch.

A few miles down the main road in Arches takes you to Devil’s Gardens. A few decades ago, this might have titillated a few park visitors, but nowadays the Devil rarely strikes fear in anyone. Yet there is one person in America that strikes fear in the heart of nearly everyone who visits him/her: The Dentist. Combine that with the fact that these formations look like really bad teeth, and it’ll be clear why we renamed them The Dentist’s Delight.

Hike about a mile up the trail through The Dentist’s Delight, and you’ll arrive at the largest arch in the park, though you wouldn’t know it from it’s yawn-inducing name, Landscape Arch. In 1991, tons of rock fell from the arch to the valley floor, illustrating that all the arches in the park are indeed precarious. But what sells better than death? Van Gogh couldn’t make a dime off his work, but now his paintings are priceless. Thus, we renamed it Dying Arch. Who won’t want to see this arch before it’s gone forever?

The name of the crowning glory of Arches National Park, Delicate Arch, practically begs us to ignore it. Sure, the arch does appear to be delicate, its fragile form precariously perched over the edge of an immense cliff, but that doesn’t mean we can’t sell the darned thing a bit better. Henceforth, it should be known as The Rootin’ Tootin’ Humongo Arch. Add Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, and who wouldn’t want to go see that?

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One Response to Marketing Moab

  1. Chris Rowan says:

    Personally, your photos make me want to go and see these things – the names are irrelevant. But then, as a geologist, you had me at ‘Arches’, so I might not be the audience you’re wanting to reach…

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