Arches National Park

Hello Utah!  And hello to two more stunning, glorious, amazing national parks!  The great state of Utah actually has five national parks and six additional national park units, and one would be hard pressed to pick a favorite – they are all so unique and picturesque.  During our 11-night stay in Moab which is located in the high desert in eastern Utah, we are visiting two more of Utah’s national parks – Arches NP and Canyonlands NP.  [We’ve already visited Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP, and Cedar Breaks NM, while on our honeymoon trip back in August 2012.]

As the name implies, Arches is known for its collection of extraordinary, often graceful, sometimes fragile, but always astounding arches.  In fact, with more than 2,000 arches inside the park boundaries, Arches NP boasts the greatest concentration of rock arches in the entire world!

The arch to the right is Tunnel Arch ~ This is one of many payoffs one gets in Devils Garden for undertaking an 8-mile strenuous hike.

Tunnel Arch in Arches NP

~ Below is Delicate Arch ~  Arguably the most famous arch in the world, it appears on Utah license plates.  Fred and I made the 3-mile round-trip hike up to Delicate Arch early one morning – the trailhead parking lot fills up before 9 a.m. so you need to wake up early to see this one! – but then he hiked back up one evening to get this shot with his desired lighting – awesome, eh?

Delicate Arch at Sunset
Laura at Private Arch
Here is one called Private Arch ~ Another gem in Devils Garden, not too many people make it to see this one. I am high above it on a rock fin, as Fred would say, “taking a blow.”
The famed -and fragile - Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch ~ It spans 306 feet across, making it one of the largest rock arches in the world. In 1991, a 60-foot-long rock slab peeled away from the arch’s right side, bringing down 180 tons of rock debris, and making it even more fragile.

Arches boasts, and names(!), so many incredible rock formations!  First Row: Balanced Rock and Three Gossips. Second Row: Park Avenue and Dark Angel. Third Row: Fiery Furnace and… I’m not sure what this one is named, but I could make some suggestions!

Balanced Rock in Arches NPThree Gossips (left) and Sheep Rock (right) at Arches National ParkThe Park Avenue formationsDark Angel in Arches NPFiery Furnace at Arches NPMore stunning rock formations at Arches National Park

I have taken more than 100 photos here at Arches, and I would bet that Fred has taken more than 2,000! It’s just so beautiful here…! We are going to be sad when we pull out of here in a couple of days, but we are making reservations to come back here next April. Arches NP… the cool town of Moab… Canyonlands NP… Deadhorse SP… this is really a special part of Utah….

Hover your cursor over the photo, below, then click on the arrows to see some more of my photos from our time in Arches National Park:

The Park Avenue formations
The Park Avenue formations
Balanced Rock in Arches NP
Balanced Rock in Arches NP
Three Gossips (left) and Sheep Rock (right) at Arches National Park
Three Gossips
Dark Angel in Arches NP
Dark Angel in Arches NP
Fiery Furnace at Arches NP
Fiery Furnace at Arches NP
More stunning rock formations at Arches National Park
More stunning rock formations at Arches National Park

I have taken more than 100 photos here at Arches, and I would bet that Fred has taken more than 2,000!  It’s just so beautiful here…!  We are going to be sad when we pull out of here in a couple of days, but we are making reservations to come back here next April.  Arches NP… the cool town of Moab… Canyonlands NP… Deadhorse SP… this is really a special part of Utah….

Arches National Park
Entrance Arches National Park

As a postscript, here are a few more interesting tidbits about Arches National Park:

  • As has been the case with the area we’ve been in for the last month or so, this area of Utah, too, was once covered by an ancient ocean.  After repeated cycles of the ocean receding, evaporating, then refilling, large beds of salt were left behind in this area that were thousands of feet thick in some places.  Much later, sand and other material were deposited on top of the salt, forming overlying layers of sandstone.  The weight of the sandstone caused the lower salt layer to flow and shift, which deformed the sandstone above it.  Some collapsed into cavities; some uplifted into domes; some cracked vertically.  The sandstone then eroded over millions of years, and in many places fins, or thin rock walls, were formed.  These fins then eroded and collapsed, and in some spots, the centers eroded away, leaving behind arches.  Now you know how these magical arches were formed!
  • In order for an arch to be considered an arch, the “hole” has to be an opening at least three feet long in any one direction.
  • The biggest arch in the park, Landscape Arch, has an opening that’s longer than a football field!
  • Another rock formation, a window, is really just an arch, but it’s called a window because it’s usually higher on a rock wall or fin, and it typically frames a good view behind it.
  • A bridge, similar to an arch, is formed by running water, so a bridge spans either a present or former waterway.  Natural Bridges National Monument here in Utah features these natural bridges; we will visit that park unit at another time.
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