Arches National Park

 

Geology 

Arches National Park contains over 2,000 natural arches. These delicate balancing acts are made of soft red sandstone that has eroded after millions of years of exposure to rain, sun, and wind. Most of the rock formations visible in the park are the result of sandstone domes that were deposited about 150 millions years ago. Later, as groundwater began dissolving the salt content underneath the domes, the domes were shaped into “fins.” These stick up as thin stonewalls pinnacling the landscape, and many are visible to today’s visitors. Some of these fins gradually weathered into the magnificent arch structures that visitors flock to the park to see. The most famous arch is called the Delicate Arch. With its rings of bright yellow, orange, and red, and its improbable thinness on one side and thickness on the other, it truly is an aesthetic wonder. However, Delicate Arch is neither the tallest nor the widest arch in the Park. Landscape arch, with an opening of 306 feet (93.3 meters), is the widest arch in North America, and the Southern area of Double Arch is 112 feet (34 meters) high in it’s tallest section. The presence of these arches, some less than a foot in diameter, are evidence of rather low seismic activity in the area for over 50,000 years, though some arches do collapse occasionally. The most recent collapse was Wall Arch, which fell in 2008. 

Photo Credit: NPS, Andrew Kuhn (left); NPS, Jacob W. Frank (right)

Biodiversity

The arches are not the only extraordinary element of the part; the park is also home to ephemeral pools. Technically, the park is in the Northern Desert region of the United States, and so it is dry all year long with an average rainfall of 8-10 inches each year. These pools come with the rain and dry up with the summer. While the pools are full, pockets of momentary biodiversity swell up. Each pool is its own ecosystem, and contains fairy shrimp (anostraca), insects, and tadpoles. Petroglyphs are also a common sight in the park, and speak to the over 10,000 years of human habitation in and around the red sandstone formations. 

Photo Credit: NPS, Neal Herbert

History

The Arches National Monument was created on April 12, 1929 by President Herbert Hoover. This act preserved 4,520 acres of land in the area. In 1971 the park became a National Park with the intention of preserving and recognizing the history of human habitation in the Arche’s out-of-this-world landscape. 

Photo Credit: NPS, Jacob W. Frank

FAQs

 

  1. When is the best time of year to visit the park?
    Arches National Park is open all year long, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The most popular times to visit the park are from April-May and mid-September-October. These dates coincide with the most temperate time to visit the park. Arches is technically part of the Northern Desert region of the United States, and so temperatures can vary widely. During the Spring and Fall, highs are 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and lows are 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. What is the weather like in the summer?
    Temperatures in the summer often change dramatically from day to night due to the arid conditions. Daytime temperatures can often reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and nights and winters can go well below freezing. 
  3. Is there a fee for entering the park?
    There are various fees for the different kind of vehicles entering the park and individual persons without a vehicle. To find this information, follow this link:https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm
  4. Where should I stay when visiting?
    Moab, Utah is less than ten miles from the park and offers many different housing options for your stay. Camping is also an option! There is a 50-spot campsite in the park itself, but make sure to reserve yours early in the year before you visit because these fill up very quickly. 
  5. What other resources are available while at the park?
    There are daily guided walks, geology talks, and hikes available to visitors. Many of these are free, except for the longer and more strenuous guided hikes. For more information about these resources, follow this link:https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/programs.htm 
  6. Can I climb on the arches?
    There are fantastic rock climbing opportunities at Arches National Park! Many of the formations are open to the public, but if you are unsure always ask a park ranger before embarking on a climb. Some closures occur each year in order to prevent any disturbance of wildlife and flora. In 2013, the National Park introduces a Climbing and Canyoneering Management Plan, which contains climbing rules and regulations while in the park. Please refrain from any vandalizing of the rock formations and petroglyphs. This will certainly result in a hefty fine! Respect the park and you will enjoy your time much more.  

The Climbing and Canyoneering Management Plan: https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/upload/Final_Climbing-and-Canyoneering-Management-Plan_2013_web.pdf 

 

 More helpful links:

https://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm

http://www.modernhiker.com/area-maps/hikes-in-arches-national-park/

http://utah.com/hiking/arches-national-park

Instagram: @archesnps, @archesnationalpark 

 

 

 

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