Have you been to the beach and made a sandcastle by letting the wet sand drip through your fingers? That’s what many of the rock formations in Arches National Park look like to me. It’s like someone has taken the wet red and tan sandstone and had a great time creating some very unique shapes. Arches NP has many geological formations such as sandstone fins, towers, and the highest density of natural arches (more than 1,200) in the world.
Arches was originally named a National Monument in 1929 and its charge was to protect the arches, spires, rocks, and other formations located there. It was not until 1971 that Arches became a National Park. Arches NP now protects almost 120 square miles of high desert land on the Colorado Plateau.
Today you can visit many of these arches and geological features. Some are easy to access and others require more effort to see. David and I took a number of hikes in the park. Our two longest hikes were the Devil’s Garden Trail and the Delicate Arch Trail. On the Devil’s Garden Trail we saw Landscape Arch which is a very thin and long arch that spans 290 feet and is the longest in the park. We also saw Pine Tree Arch, Partition Arch, Tunnel Arch, Navajo Arch and Double O Arch.
This hike was a strenuous hike because we had to scramble over large boulders and walk across slick rock near steep drop-offs. Our hike became even more challenging when several rainstorms appeared suddenly. (There was no rain predicted for that day.) We were rained on three times and got pelted by hail twice. Fortunately, we had all of our rain gear with us and we were fine. We also met other hikers from Israel, Germany, and Pittsburgh, PA. The sun came out between rainstorms and they were short-lived. Even though it was challenging, it was well-worth it.
After completing the Devil’s Garden Trail hike, we proceeded to the Delicate Arch Trail. This was also a tough hike due to the elevation change. Luckily, there were no rainstorms. Again, we were rewarded with a wonderful view of Delicate Arch. It’s an enormous arch that is as tall as a four-story building. It is a truly amazing rock formation. This particular arch has become the symbol of Utah and it is displayed on the Utah state license plates. After our two hikes, we had hiked almost 11 miles. We were tired but happy.
The following day we returned to Arches NP to do some shorter hikes to some other features like Balanced Rock. This large rock is the size of three school buses and sits atop its base.
Double Arch is interesting because the two arches share one end of the arch.
North and South Window Arches and Turret Arch are easy to reach and very impressive as well.
We visited a number of the arches in the park yet there are many more that we did not discover.
Although Arches NP is in the high desert, we had a number of rainy days during our visit in the Moab area. Even though the weather was not ideal, we thoroughly enjoyed discovering the wonders of Arches National Park.
– Like Bryce NP, Arches NP is a great place to observe the night sky. Astronomy is very popular because of the dark skies.
– While we were there, the park closed at 7 PM on Sunday-Thursday because they were making improvements to the main road through the park. Also, the Campground is currently closed to make improvements.