ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, Utah

Arches National Park? We don’t know much about it until we visited this park. We wondered about this place, as all I knew was what we’ve seen in post card and magazines.

Arches National Park is located on the Colorado River 6km North of Moab, Utah. It is known for containing over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch. The park is located just outside Moab, Utah, and is 76,359 acres in area. Its highest elevation is 5,653 feet at Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 4,085 feet at the Visitor Center. 43 arches are known to have collapsed since 1977. The part receives 10 inches of rain a year on average.

Water, ice, extreme temperatures and an unstable bed of salt beneath an old sea floor bed that formed red Entrada sandstone, made for a natural wonder 100 million years later. Fissures from the unstable salt bed shifting and buckling, faulting from the displacement along the Moab Fault, cause parallel cracking that was later enhanced by freeze thaw cycles and eroded as the layer became exposed to wind, rain. All this created a landscape with the greatest density of natural arches and windows found on earth.

The entrance and visitor center is 5 miles west of Moab on Hwy 191. There are only about 22 mile of paved roads in the park, but to drive all the roads and spend 10 minutes at each viewpoint will take 4.5 hours. That would be pretty tough to do, as once you start looking around, you’ll want to spend more time and do many of the short hikes, to really get to see the arches and windows.

Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers, and The Three Gossipers

A relatively easy one mile (one-way) trail located near the park entrance. The trail leads through a steep-walled sandstone canyon with a smooth bottom. Many hikers will get dropped off at one end of the trail and picked up at the other to eliminate the need for a round-trip. The towering rocks that line the one-mile trail are straight-sided and reminiscent of a tall city buildings. We strolled down Park Avenue around mid-morning when the sun was just starting to peak over the massive rocks.

A court date you definitely won’t want to miss, the Courthouse Towers invite all those who wish to witness their commanding presence to pull up, snap a few photos, and spend some extended time mesmerized by their beauty. No judgments passed.

Balanced Rock

Located just 9 miles from the entrance to Arches, Balanced Rock size is of three school buses, Balanced Rock was once part of two acrobatics inclined formations in the area. Don’t stand too close!

 

Delicate Arch

The most famous arch in the park (and perhaps in the world), Delicate Arch can be seen from a roadside turnout, from a short 0.8 mile trail, or you can take the 3.0 mile (round trip) trail starting from Wolfe’s Ranch, gaining 480 feet of elevation, and stand underneath this natural wonder. The trail to the arch is strenuous; be sure to carry adequate water with you. Note that during peak season you are likely to be sharing the trail with many people; visiting at sunrise provides the best chance of solitude, while sunset offers the best photography.
Perhaps the most iconic image associated with Arches National Park, Delicate Arch is a 65- foot tall formation deemed so picturesque that the state of Utah put it on all their license plates. Old cowboys used to call Delicate Arch the “Schoolmarms Bloomers,” and its no wonder why. A view like that is sure to blow your pants off!

 

 

And there’s more to see in Arches National Park…

 

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