Park Avenue Trail at Arches N.P.

Arches National Park is a US National Park in eastern Utah. The park is adjacent to the Colorado River, 4 miles north of Moab, Utah in Grand County, Utah. It is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations. It contains the highest density of natural arches in the world.

See also Scouting in Utah.

Local History Edit

Humans have occupied the region since the last ice age 10,000 years ago. Fremont people and Ancient Pueblo People lived in the area up until about 700 years ago. Spanish missionaries encountered Ute and Paiute tribes in the area when they first came through in 1775, but the first European-Americans to attempt settlement in the area were the Mormon Elk Mountain Mission in 1855, who soon abandoned the area. Ranchers, farmers, and prospectors later settled Moab in the neighboring Riverine Valley in the 1880s. Word of the beauty of the surrounding rock formations spread beyond the settlement as a possible tourist destination.

Major Scenic Landmarks Edit


Organ Tower at Arches N.P.

This park has over 2,000 scenic stone arches. Among the notable features of the park are:

  • Balanced Rock – a large balancing rock, the size of three school buses
  • Courthouse Towers – a collection of tall stone columns
  • Dark Angel – a free-standing 150-foot-tall (46 m) sandstone pillar at the end of the Devil's Garden Trail
  • Delicate Arch – a lone-standing arch which has become a symbol of Utah and the most recognized arch in the park
  • Devil's Garden or The Klondike Bluffs – with many arches and columns scattered along a ridge
  • Double Arch – two arches that share a common end
  • Fiery Furnace – an area of maze-like narrow passages and tall rock columns (see biblical reference Fiery Furnace)
  • Landscape Arch – a very thin and long arch with a span of 290 feet (88 m) (This is the longest arch in the park)
  • Petrified dunes – petrified remnants of sand dunes blown from the ancient lakes that covered the area
  • Wall Arch – located along the popular Devil's Garden Trail; collapsed sometime on August 4/5, 2008.

Delicate Arch Edit

Delicate arch

Delicate Arch

The light opening beneath Delicate Arch is 64 feet high and 45 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park. This particular free-standing arch has become a widely recognized symbol of the state of Utah and one of the most famous geologic features in the world.

Delicate Arch is not easily seen from the main park road; you must get out of the car to view it. At Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, walking a level 100 yards (91m) affords a view of the arch from one mile away. Nearby, the Upper Viewpoint offers a slightly less obstructed view.

The trail to see Delicate Arch up close and personal is 3 miles (4.8 km) roundtrip and climbs 480 feet (146m). Along this steadily uphill trail, hikers also pass the Wolfe Ranch cabin and a wall of Ute Indian petroglyphs.

Wildlife and Nature Edit

There is an abundance of wildlife in Arches. The list includes: spadefoot toad, antelope squirrel, scrub jay, peregrine falcon, many kinds of sparrows, red fox, desert bighorn sheep, kangaroo rat, mule deer, cougar, midget faded rattlesnake, yucca moth, many types of cyanobacteria, Western rattlesnake, and the Western collared lizard.[14]

Plants also dominate the landscape in the park. The list of plants includes: prickly pear cactus, Indian ricegrass, bunch grasses, cheatgrass, lichen, moss, liverworts, Utah juniper, Mormon tea, blackbrush, cliffrose, four-winged saltbrush, pinyon pine, stemless woollybase, evening primrose, sand verbena, yucca, and sacred datura.[15]

Camping Edit

Trailheads Edit


Hikers returning from Double Arch

Arches contains a variety of hiking trails, many of which are considered easy to moderate. Trails provide access to outstanding viewpoints and arches not visible from the road. In some cases, trails travel under arches, affording quite a unique perspective on the park's namesake features.

Park Hiking Rules Edit

  • Daily high temperatures in the park can reach or exceed 95°F (35°C) and remain hot through sundown. Many trails have little to no shade. Avoid hiking during the hottest hours of the day (10 am - 6 pm), and carry and drink water throughout your visit.
  • Protect biological soil crusts during your visit. Please walk only on trails, rock or in sandy washes.
  • Avoid Ephemeral Pools - Sandstone basins called ephemeral pools or potholes are home to a variety of life. Tiny organisms depend on the water in these shallow pools. To protect these life forms, please do not swim, bathe, or drink the water in desert potholes, and do not walk through dry ones.
  • Keep off the Arches. To promote visitor safety and the opportunity to view natural features undisturbed, climbing, scrambling, walking or standing upon, or rappelling off any arch is prohibited in the park.
  • Graffiti—carving, scratching, chalking, or any type of marking—is illegal and unsightly. If you see someone marking on the rocks, please report it to a ranger.

Park Recreation Edit

Approved recreational activities include auto touring, backpacking, biking, camping, and hiking, some of which require permits. Guided commercial tours and ranger programs are also available.

Astronomy is also popular in the park due to its dark skies despite the increasing light pollution from towns like Moab.[12

Rock Climbing Edit

Climbing on named arches within the park has long been banned by park regulations! Following Dean Potter's successful free climb on the Delicate Arch in May 2006, however, the wording of the regulations was deemed unenforceable by the park attorney. The park revised its regulations as follows in response:

All rock climbing or similar activities on any arch or natural bridge named on the United States Geological Survey 7.5 minute topographical maps covering Arches National Park are prohibited.

Climbing on other features in the park is allowed, but regulated.

Prohibited Activities Edit

  • Slacklining - The revised regulations prohibit slacklining parkwide.
  • Climbing Named Landmarks = Climbing on named arches within the park has long been banned by park regulations

See Also Edit

External Links Edit

References Edit

  • National Parks of America - an informative and gorgeous tour of all 59 parks with our lavishly finished hardcover gift guide packed with detailed itineraries and practical tips on what to do and see in each park (2016 - Parks 100th Anniversay Edition)
  • State Parks of Utah - the state parks are so rich in history, varied in beauty, and abundant in recreational opportunity.
  • Utah's National Parks - 50 popular short hikes where each holds some of the most awe-inspiring geology on the planet. Each park offers visitors the dramatic scenery that invites exploration and discovery.