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Arches National Park


Sightseeing at Arches National Park
©2006 National Park Services Delicate Arch, which is 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide, perches on the rim of a canyon. The arch is all that remains of a huge sandstone wall called a fin.

Arches National Park contains the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches. There are hundreds of them, and they come in every shape and color imaginable, from the world-famous Delicate Arch to the colossal Landscape Arch. Another noted feature that is easily accessible via the park road is "Park Avenue," where vertical slabs or fins of red Entrada sandstone tower over the surrounding painted desert like New York skyscrapers.

Close by Park Avenue is Courthouse Towers, where some of the best hiking in the park is found. Visitors often spot such high-desert fauna as mule deer and coyotes at sunrise and sunset. The Windows section of the park provides yet another set of fantastic vistas. The lovely rock scenery has been featured in such classic films as Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Double Arch) and the comedy City Slickers (North Window).

Of course, no trip to Arches would be complete without a walk through Devils Garden, an intricately eroded region of red and orange sandstone in which hikers can view such features as Fin Canyon and Tunnel Arch.

A scenic drive through Arches climbs from the floor of Moab Canyon to Devils Garden. Along this 18-mile, one-way drive you pass a lovely slickrock expanse called the Petrified Dunes. With the snowcapped La Sal Mountains rising in the distance, the dunes are a spectacle of form and contrast.

Other sights are equally spectacular: Balanced Rock, a striking, eroded stone spire 128 feet high; South Window Arch, 105 feet wide; and the dramatic Double Arch.

Arches National Park Photo Opportunities

The grandiose spires and arches of the park provide natural subjects for landscape photography. Be sure to capture the following sights:

  • Delicate Arch: Silhouetted against the nearby La Sal Mountains, Delicate Arch is an awesome vision.
  • Landscape Arch: In Devils Garden, gaze at the 290-foot span of Landscape Arch. In the last twenty years, large pieces of rock have fallen from this imposing structure.
  • Double Arch: A short hike from the parking lot will take you to Double Arch, which features -- as you'd probably suspect -- two spectacular arches. When viewed in the morning light against an azure sky, the Double Arch is at its most breathtaking. 
  • Balanced Rock: Although it looks like it's about to plunge to the desert floor beneath, the Balanced Rock has been perched on its sandstone pedestal for thousands of years.
©2006 National Park Services Landscape Arch defies the laws of engineering. It is 291 feet long, 65 feet high, and only six feet thick at its narrowest point.

There are literally hundreds of arches and other formations to see. But how did all these stunning formations come to be? On the next page, we'll examine the natural forces that came together  to create the Arches.