Arches National Park Favorite Tips by Trekki Top 5 Page for this destination
Arches National Park Favorites: 69 reviews and 119 photos
crystals - from way in the past
Favorite thing: Once upon a long time ago – several hundred million years ago, the area which is now the park, has been part of the so-called Paradox Bassin, a huge depression.
Saltwater from a nearby sea flow in and filled this bassin. The water eventually evaporated and left behind a saltbed or concentrated brine (KCl, CaSO4 x 2 H2O :-) ).
Over the millions of time, additional debris was deposited, leaving thin layers of limestone and shale. More debris was left, when some of the bassin surrounding edges were uplifted, and their tops eroded.
Fondest memory: Saltbed layers are not stable, when under pressure, as now with this overweight rock debris. So this bed moved plastically to places with less overweight (this is similar as ice movement in glaciers).
During late Jurassic and Cretaceous, around less than 200 mio years ago, this movement caused further uplift at the places from where the salt bed had moved, and over the time, anticlines or upfolds with a core of salt have formed that way. Further uplift 10-60 million years ago widened up the already existing folds, joints were formed in the anticlines – parallel fractures which gave room for more erosion.
The result were valleys with steep fractured walls – optimum surfaces for water to enter, freeze and cracking up the fissures and erode the rocks.
Among the NP on Colorado Plateau, Arches NP is the youngest.
But haha, then again - what is age :-)
near Pine Tree Arch
Favorite thing: Arches NP stretches out more or less in a north-south direction. Consider this to plan your trip for the best shots.
Early morning = when the sun is rising from the (plain) east with nearly no barrier between it and the rocks, you will get the best views on
inside Park Avenue,
Landscape Arch and
the others within Devils Garden.
Late afternoon you should be at
Balanced Rock, and
in the Garden of Eden.
But…. my most favourite pic is the one of Delicate Arch with the sun just behind it’s top – so it all depends :-)
inside Arches NP
Favorite thing: In 1929, Arches Nationalpark was established as National Monument, in 1971 as National Park. It is categorized as high plain destert, with it's highest elevation at 1723 m (Elephant Butte) and it's lowest at 1245 m (Visitor Center).
Annual rainfall is around 250 mm per year.
On the 310 km2 areal, more than 1500 arches have been carved out by erosion into mostly Navajo and Entrada sandstone.
Entrance fee is 10 USD per car (valid for 7 days), it might be easier to get the Golden Eagle pass, if you intend to visit more national parks.
Except christmas day, the park is open all year round, in summer from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm, in winter from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
The best time to visit would be off- season, if it's not too hot and not too crowded. I was there in october (1990), with an average amount of other visitors, and in late december (1993), where sis and I seem to have been the only visitors :-)
Fondest memory: Park Map
Edward Abbey - "Desert Solitude"
Favorite thing: If you like beforehand reading about your destination, you should not miss “Desert Solitude” by Edward Abbey. Born in 1927, Abbey came to US Southwest as a youngster. He did various jobs, and also worked for the national parks for a long time. Among this, he spent 2 years in Arches NP in it’s early days of being a National Monument.
"Desert Solitude” reflects about his love for pristine wilderness in general and in specific for this wild and rough desert.
Fondest memory: Quote from the book cover:
"This book may well seem like a ride on a buckling bronco. It's rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book. It has philosophy. It has humor. It has its share of nerve-tingling adventures - set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty."
If you like to read more about Edward Abbey - please check the Website
Delicate Arch - free-standing arch
Favorite thing: Apart from their formation, "arches" need to follow some rules before they can be considered as an arch :-)
They must "be" a hole in a rock, completely formed by natural forces, the rock removed by water, wind or gravity, leaving a frame.
Depending on where they form, or how "old" they are (in terms of erosion that took place), they are classified into:
Cliff-wall arch - which would be Wall Arch for example, or Landscape Arch in it's beginnings;
Free-standing arch such as Delicate Arch or Landscape Arch today, or
Jug-handle arch as the famous Double-O-Arch.
Fondest memory: Who likes to read more about arches from the taxonomy point of view - there is a good Website on arches, which explains a lot.
Next Balanced Rock in 100.000 years ?
Favorite thing: Arches - as they are displaying themselves today - are not made for (geologic) eternity. They have a life cycle, as all living things. They begin as small holes in a wall or cliff, and subsequent weathering opens this up.
Same is for the pinnacles in this area.
Balanced Rock, for example, once had a little brother, Chip-off-the-old-block. He looked quite similar to Balanced Rock, but toppled off in winter 75/76.
On the second pic - the remains are still there - in the middle between Balanced Rock and the big fin.
Fondest memory: However, just next to Balanced Rock there is this big thick fin, which in some hundreds of thousands of years might have eroded to the new generation Balanced Rock :-)
If you have a closer look and compare the strata - they are the same for both, Balanced Rock and the thick one.
Favorite thing: The main stratum or rock layer which was exposed to erosion in Arches NP is Entrada Sandstone, composed of quartz sand, glued together by calcium cement.
This stratum furtheron consists of 3 members or divisions, which all have different properties (and thus erode different) due to their composition:
Dewey bridge - a lighter colored muddy sandstone, quite soft,
Slickrock - fine grained and thus erodes to more round objects,
Moab - which is white sandstone and caps the slickrock
The stratum below Entrada sandstone is Navajo sandstone, coarse-gained and thus erodes more rough.
Fondest memory: The first 3 pics are formations of slickrock - as the round edges show.
Pic 4 is moab member, where erosion brings out nearly every single layers of the formation.
leave nothing but footsteps - on the trail !
Favorite thing: As for all natural environment, please respect the rules for visiting – leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures.
As for the footprints, please respect also the cryptobiological crust, and leave the footsteps only on the marked trails.
screenshot Bob's Arches website :-)
Favorite thing: While browsing through the web, looking for further explanations on arches and hoodoos and red rock country in general, and to identify some of the views in my old pictures, I came across Bob’s Arches – a gorgeous website full of pictures and infos on arches.
It’s Bob Fagley who has created this page, and nearly every arch in and around Moab is shown here.
Bob has a huge knowledge about the location of the arches, in his website he mentions that he has visited the locations for almost since 40 years.
If you have any question about arches or need to specify which arch you took a picture of – send him an email, he will help you if he knows the arch.
I did it for some of my Moab Corona Arch hike, and he could help me a lot !
Thanks Bob from here !
Bob's Arches website
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