Arches National Park

Wind and water, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement created the sculptured sandstone rocks encountered at Arches National Park. This park contains the greatest number of natural arches in the world. Early explorers thought the arches and monoliths were, like Stonehenge in England, the works of some lost culture.

Arches National Park is located in southeastern Utah in the midst of red rock country. It lies atop an underground salt bed, which was deposited over the Colorado Plateau approximately 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Because the salt bed is unstable, as rock has formed on top, the area has shifted, buckled, liquefied, and repositioned itself, thrusting layers upward into domes. Over time, superficial cracks, joints, and folds have been saturated with water, creating through erosion a series of free-standing fins. Wind and water further eroded these fins until chunks of rock tumbled out. While many damaged fins collapsed, others with the right degree of hardness and balance survived despite their missing middle sections. These became the famous arches.

John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, settled in Arches with his son in 1888. A log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of their primitive ranch. It is unknown why they chose to move from their original home in Ohio to the West, but they managed a living with a small cattle operation for more than 20 years. The ranch is located near Delicate Arch.

In August 2008 one of the larger and more accessible arches in Arches National Park collapsed--worn down by years of gravity and erosion. Paul Henderson, the park's chief of interpretation, said Wall Arch collapsed sometime between late Monday, August 4th and Tuesday, August 5th, 2008. As the 12th largest arch in the park, Wall Arch will be missed. Fortunately the park contains over 2,000 arches, so there are still plenty to see on your visit.

If You Go > > 

Leave enough time to get out of the car and hike as much as possible. It is worth it to get right up next to the arches and take in just how large and impressive they are.

Read More in NPCA's Park Advocate Blog









January 18, 2014

Was there in 1997 it is awesome, but just don't set in your car get out and walk around.


October 1, 2013

On a 2 week Vacation in 1992 visited Rocky Mtn.NP;Black Can.of the Gunnison NP;Mesa Verde NP;Monument Valley;4 Corners;Grand Canyon,NP;ZionNP,Bryce Canyon NP.and Arches NP. Would I do it again to-day? In a Heartbeat!!!!!!!!!!!


June 30, 2013

We just got back from Arches and 5 other national parks. If you have not gone, what are you waiting for ?

Justin B.

May 22, 2013

COOL! That is like, awesome!


February 13, 2013

WOW!! that looks so cool!!


September 21, 2012

I have really never been there at all, btu it looks great


February 9, 2012

If you want a up-close, exciting, humorous and intelligent "look" at Arches NP be sure to read "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abby. You'll get a good sense of Arches NP and appreciate Abby's ability to write - he's just superb. If you're going to Arches be absolutely sure to read it first (or on the way). You won't be sorry.


November 26, 2011

Arches is one of my favorite parks. I like Geology very much and going to Arches just blows my mind. Zion and Canyonlands are very close seconds.

Post a Comment

Share your park story today. Post your park experiences, recommendations, or tips here.*

Enter this word:

* Your comments will appear once approved by the moderator. NPCA staff do not regularly respond to postings. We reserve the right to remove comments that include profanity or personal attacks, promote products or services, or are otherwise off-topic. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the position(s) of NPCA. By submitting comments you are giving NPCA permission to reuse your words on our website and print materials.


Want to learn more about the  ?

The   can be seen in the wild in America’s national parks. Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Sign up to protect parks in   & other states

Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association Community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Sign up to protect   and other National Parks

Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association Community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Please leave this field empty
Yes, please sign me up for NPCA’s newsletter and other emails about protecting our national parks!

National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association

Log In

Or log in with your connected Facebook or Twitter account:


Welcome to our growing community of park advocates. Thanks for signing up!

Sign Up:

Or sign up by connecting your Facebook or Twitter account: