Arches National Park
Nature's Sculpture Garden in the Utah Desert
Arches National Park is one of Utah's mighty 5 national parks. It is known mostly for its more than 2,000 natural arches. In addition to arches you'll find giant balanced rocks, huge fins, petrified dunes and other amazing rock formations that rise out of the desert floor. Arches was the third stop on our 16 day tour of Colorado and Utah. You can visit the trip itinerary here.
Arches National Park currently requires a timed reservation to enter. Our reservation had been at 1:00 pm, however, we ended up missing it when we arrived because we took longer exploring Colorado National Monument than we thought. The good news is that the timed entry requirement is dropped prior to 6:00 AM and after 5:00 PM. So, being morning people, we got up early the next day and drove over before sunrise. This turned out perfectly for us and we caught some interesting photos before the sun fully came up. We were at double arch as the sun rose! You can see some of those images in the sections below and check out our video for a tour of the park.
Click the video image to get the tips you need for a successful visit to Arches National Park and get a glimpse of the major sites to see
including an up close look at some of the sites (Delicate Arch, North and South Windows, Turret arch, Sand Dune Arch, Balanced Rock and
more) within the park. This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
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- Arches has the highest concentration of Natural Stone Arches in the World.
- There are four main categories of Arches found in the Park; Cliff Wall Arches, Free-Standing Arches, Pothole Arches and Natural Bridges.
- All of Arches National Park used to be under water; 300 million years ago, it was at the bottom of an inland sea.
- Arches National Park receives about 8-10 inches of Rain every year.
- Temperatures in Arches National Park can fluctuate over 40 Degrees in a single day.
- There are over 400 types of plants found in Arches National Park.
- There are over 50 species of mammals that live in Arches National Park.
- Balanced Rock weighs as much as 27 Blue Whales (3,577 tons and 128 feet in height).
- Landscape Arch is the fifth longest Arch in the World.
- Arches National Park area is 310.31 square kilometres (76,680 acres; 119.81 square miles) in size.
Arches National Park is 234 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah. It is about 354 miles west of Denver and slightly south and 458 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Looking at a map it is almost right in the middle between Salt Lake City, Denver, Las Vegas and Albuquerque. We chose to fly into Denver rather than Salt Lake City so we could see the Rocky Mountains on the way.
Arches National Park also lies 5.2 miles north of Moab and is bordered by the Colorado River in the southeast.
Moab, Utah is essentially the only major town in the area and so it is the best place to stay when visiting Arches. There are tons of restaurants and hotels and a community that supports the parks in the area including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse State park. Here you can find just about anything you need including jeep rentals and other off roading vehicles and locals with lots of knowledge that can tell you the best places to explore. Check out our Canyonlands page for our exploration of the Shafer Trail in Canyonlands and other info about renting your offroad vehicle. (put in a link to the Canyonlands/Shafer Trail page)
See our "Useful Links" section at the bottom of this page where you will find links for Hotels, Restaurants and other useful entities.
We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Moab, Utah. We often select Hilton properties and this Hampton Inn was what you would expect for a Hilton property. We had a king suite and the room was very large. It was clean, had good beds, a refrigerator and free breakfast. That’s all that we needed.
We wound up eating out only one night while we were there, at the Moab Diner. I had one of the best liver & onions meals I have had in a long time ! An incredibly good meal, the service was prompt, efficient and friendly. Just for the record, we didn't eat dinner out on the other nights there because we had some nice charcuterie fixins from the Moab City Market (and a good bottle of red!).
There are many other places where you can find a meal, click here to view a Google Search Results List for restaurants in Moab.
The Moab Brewery was on our list to visit from our research, but we could not work in a visit that fit into our schedule. We found numerous people who said that it is a good pub. The Trip Advisor reviews vary all over the place, perhaps your experience will be better?
Only four miles from the Arches National Park Visitors Center, this is the first park pullout we came across. The parking area was empty so we parked and took the walk up the trail.
Unfortunately for our photography efforts all of the rock formations were beautiful, but the light level was so low that we did not get any good images. Since we knew from research that the Park "Windows Section" was a great place to be for a sunrise, we decided to drive there.
Click here to view a Google Images set for the Courthouse Towers rock formations.
Three Gossips is a mid-sized sandstone tower (about 350 feet at its tallest wall) sitting atop a roundish pedestal within the Courthouse Towers "cluster" that also includes The Argon Tower, The Organ, Tower Of Babel, Sheep Rock, and The Lamb.
Image Credits: Images 1 & 2 are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC. Image # 3 is the property of Wine Country Inn via Wikimedia (CC-by-SA 3.0).
Click here to view a Google Search Results Images Set for the Three Gossips Tower.
Balanced Rock is located next to the main road, at about 9.2 miles from the park entrance. It is one of only a few prominent features clearly visible from the road. The total height of Balanced Rock is 128 feet with the balancing rock rising 55 feet above the base. This rock is the largest of its kind in the park - almost 3,600 tons.
As you can see in image # 1, it was still not quite daylight and the image is quite dark. Image credits are as follows;
The Windows section is comprised of several different formations; North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch. The North & South Windows (also known as the Spectacles) stand side by side, though separated by some distance, cut from the same sandstone fin. A large “nose” separates the Spectacle arches visually from the southwest, made of a gigantic fin remnant over 100 feet wide. Directly southwest of the Windows sits Turret Arch with its vigilant tower standing beside. The whole Windows area is full of unique and captivating stone formations, with many arches among them.
Double Arch was formed differently from most of the arches in the park. It is what is known as a pothole arch, formed by water erosion from above rather than more typical erosion from the side. The larger opening has a span of 148 feet (45 meters) and a height of 104 feet (32 meters).These dimensions give the arch the tallest opening and second-longest span in the park. The Double Arch is north of the parking area, and we did not visit it while we were there - as we spent all of our time at the Spectacles & Turret Arch.
By the time we got here, the sun was on it's way and as we walked around this area, it rose completely and revealed an interesting set of views.
Click here to view a Google Images set for The Windows Section.
Delicate Arch is the most widely recognized landmark in Arches National Park and is depicted on Utah license plates and a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of admission to the Union in 1996. The arch, which features an opening 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, is the largest free-standing arch in the park, and — as the name implies — it seems to defy gravity in its size and design.
Hiking Delicate Arch Trail: That said, this isn’t an easy hike, as it contains a significant climb up a steep
slickrock slope. There’s no shade, and it gets quite hot in the summer, so anyone taking this trail should be prepared for
what’s to come. For those who aren’t up for the hike, there are two other viewing options: The Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint
just down the road only requires a 100-yard walk over flat ground to get a fine look at the arch from a mile away. From the
Upper Viewpoint, you get a slightly less obstructed view, but you need to walk half a mile with some stairs. The opening of
the arch cannot be seen from the road, so the Delicate Arch Trail is the only way for visitors to get a good look at the
formation up close.
The above text came from the Visit Utah site, as we did not take this hike. We were on a time schedule and had to keep moving on.
Click here to view a Google Images set for Delicate Arch.
Sand Dune Arch, as its name implies, has quite a bit of sand around it, the accumulation of wind-driven sand at its base. The arch sits in the shade for most of the day, flanked by two large sandstone fins. The trail (from the parking lot to the arch) is only 0.3 miles roundtrip. It’s mostly trudging through fine sand, but you also get to hike through a small slot canyon to get there. Quite a bit of shade which is pleasant, and the fine sand makes your walk feel like you are on a beach.
Click here to view a Google Search Results Images set for Sand Dune Arch.
The Fiery Furnace is a collection of narrow sandstone canyons, fins and natural arches located near the center of Arches National Park in Utah, United States. The area is a popular hiking destination that was named for the reddish hue it exhibits in sunset light.
The Fiery Furnace Viewpoint is accessible from the main park road approximately five miles north of Balanced Rock. The overlook provides views into an area thick with fins, spires and arches. There are no maintained trails through the Fiery Furnace. The area is open to park visitors, but a permit must be obtained at the visitor center to access the area. Ranger-led walks into the Fiery Furnace are available from April through October.
The scenic drive in Arches passes many outstanding natural features. Parking is limited at all destinations, and popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden may fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays. View the National Park Service Traffic & Travel Tips page for advice on making the most of your time (and avoiding the crowds).
Click here to view a Google Search Results Images Set for the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint. A link to our Images Gallery can be found on this page below.
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