Arches National Park in Utah - Natural Landscape Wonder near Moab
Greatest Density of Arches seen in the World!
Moab, Utah is the gateway to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. It became our home away from home for the time that my mother, niece and I explored that part of the country. Natural wonders awaited our discovery.
Moab sits at an elevation of 4,025 feet and is situated on the Colorado River with the LaSal Mountains at it's feet.
Interestingly Moab gets it's name from the Bible which refers to it as being an isolated place. Isolated it probably was for many years! There is evidence of native Indians being there in earlier times and they have left some evidence of their existence by leaving pictographs and petroglyphs behind.
This area now called Arches National Park was officially settled by homesteaders in 1879.
The discovery of uranium and oil and potash brought more development to the area.
What makes the town of Moab popular today is tourism as well as the making of films because of it's proximity to the national parks.
We choose to stay at the Cedar Breaks Condo in Moab. It was a fully furnished 2 bedroom condo with food for breakfast provided. We could prepare our own breakfasts each morning and enjoy hot coffee while still in our pajamas and planning our day. Nice!
We had dinner the first night at Eddie McStiff's Brew Pub & Restaurant. It is Moab's oldest legal brewery. We enjoyed some delicious pizza, pastas and salads.
The next day our goal was to see as much of the park as we could.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is located in high desert country and very little water hits the ground......in fact, less than 10 inches a year on average. The temperatures can soar well over 100 degrees in the shade of the summer!
From freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions in the winter to blistering 150 degree temperatures in the summer, this rocky desert supports only the heartiest of plant life and insects and animals who know how to cope with those disparate temperatures and living conditions.
Scraggly pinon and juniper trees seem to predominate. Other vegetation also grows in sandy areas actually serving to hold some of the shifting sands in place and also offers to provide some shade and sustenance to insects and small rodents and other creatures that reside or pass through here.
We actually saw some deer cross our path while on one of the trails to view some of the arches. One moment they were there, and the next, they had disappeared into the rocky landscape almost as apparitions.
The history of this park is interesting. It is located in the southeastern red rock country of Utah. The Colorado River borders some of the park and there is a remnant of the Old Spanish Trail.
An early settler named John Wesley Wolfe tried operating a small cattle operation there but only stayed for about 20 years before vacating. His original cabin is no longer there but another one that he had built still stands in the park today. It was a hard way to earn a living in this extremely rugged country.
Arches sits atop an ancient salt bed.
It was deposited over millions of years when a sea flowed into the area and, just like in Salt Lake, it eventually evaporated and disappeared. During this time, much residue was deposited on top of this salt and finally compressed into rock.
Salt under all this pressure of rock became liquefied and shifted and the earth was thrust upwards creating domes, faults and valleys.
Erosion over millions of years has created and is continuing to create what we view today.
Streams of water swept debris into the Colorado River and took the younger rocks which were on top with it. Exposed are the older Entrada Sandstone layers. Water and ice have altered this landscape over time in slow but ever progressing fashion.
Water, whether in the form of rain, snow or ice is slightly acidic. It slowly dissolves the calcium in the Entrada Sandstone.
Water also expands as it freezes and becomes ice and bits of sandstone are chipped away from existing formations creating the arches and other rock structures seen in this area. This is a continuing process and the arches viewed today may not be there tomorrow.
All of this geologic and corrosive action has created the sights viewed in Arches National Park.
It has the greatest concentration of natural arches that can be viewed in a relatively small area in the entire world.
Composed of 114 square miles, Arches became a National Park in 1971 when President Richard Nixon signed this into law.
Herbert Hoover first started the process by making it into a National Monument in 1929.
The world can now benefit from the foresight of these and intervening Presidents by their safeguarding these lands for future generations.
We enjoyed hiking to many of these arches. The trails can be rocky with one needing to scramble over rocks to continue on the path; others are quite sandy and since we were there in the summer, it was definitely HOT!
One needs good walking shoes. It is also a smart precaution to wear protective clothing or sunscreen and carry lots of water.
The three of us only allotted one day to view this park. Obviously one could spend much more time and there are many back country trails where one can take 4 wheel drive vehicles and also do some extensive hiking.
Landscape Arch is the longest natural stone arch in the world. It has a span of 291 feet. It is a 0.8 mile one way hike to get back to see it from the paved road but well worth the effort! Someday it will come crashing down to the ground and will no longer retain that status.
We saw what we could from the road and also took several of the trails to see some of the other arches.
If you get a chance to visit this part of Utah and enjoy national parks as much as I do, then put Moab down as a great place to make your headquarters. Strike out and explore Arches for a day or more of sightseeing, hiking, taking pictures or just enjoying natural wonders of nature.
Where Arches National Park is located...
© 2008 Peggy Woods