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

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Four Stops, One Destination

Ted, Jonathan, Maite, Mark Miller (NPS Chief of Resource Stewardship & Science, Southeast Utah Group parks), and Luke at Arches National Park.It was hands-down the most impressive lightning storm I have ever seen. Last month, I was driving out of Arches National Park at night with my young boys, Vann, age 7, and Billy, age 6. Every few seconds, a magnificent strike of lightning lit up the darkened sky, exposing the towering sandstone formations of this […]

Five Park Stories That Will Make Your Friday—and Where to Share Yours

When NPCA invited supporters to share their stories and photos on our new website, MyParkStory.org, we could hardly have anticipated the amazing responses we would get from some of the biggest fans of the national parks. As someone who has had the privilege of reading most of these heartfelt contributions, I can’t help but share […]
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Saly

August 28, 2014

Out of the big 5 Utah parks this was by far our favorite. It has a wide variety of trails. Beautiful red rock. Dead Horse Point State Park is close by and very beautiful too with some simple trails and observation point.

Dave1729

January 18, 2014

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

Freddie

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!!!!!!!!!!!

Brad

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!

beth

February 13, 2013

WOW!! that looks so cool!!

icarly

September 21, 2012

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

Dirk

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.

rabbit

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.

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