Interesting Facts About Arches National Park

Arches National Park sits high above the Colorado River, covering an area of nearly 120 square miles.

The park is named for the more than 2,000 natural stone arches within its boundaries, earning the designation of the highest concentration of natural arches in the world.

Visitors are awestruck by the deep hues of orange, brown, and red, and leave with a sense of just how wild the American landscape can still be, once you step out of the cities and suburbs. 

Here are some interesting facts about Arches National Park.

Hopefully this information will inspire you to plan a visit to this amazing landscape sometime soon. 

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Arches National Park Sets the Scene in Many Movies and Television Shows

You can’t blame directors for wanting to set scenes in this astounding wilderness.

In many areas within Arches, you literally cannot turn your head and not see a view that seems too beautiful to be real.

Depending on the time of day, the colors alone can be overwhelmingly gorgeous. 

Arches National Park is a scene stealer in movies like “City Slickers,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “Geronimo.”  

Even Indiana Jones took a spin through Arches in the 1989 hit “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

If you’d like to take a look at some of the memorabilia from the films shot in the area, head over to Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage.

The museum is located in the famous Red Cliffs Lodge, the perfect base camp for exploring Arches and the surrounding region. 

arches national park
Palacemusic, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Delicate Arch is a Highlight of the Park

This 65-foot arch juts out from the rocky terrain, overlooking the Colorado River.

Perhaps the most recognizable natural arch in the world, Delicate Arch is definitely the most well-known arch within Arches National Park. 

The arch is so iconic that the planners for the 2002 Winter Olympics decided to have the Olympic Torch pass through the arch.

There’s a trail that allows visitors to walk right up to this natural wonder and see it in person.

The trail is three miles total, and can be challenging during the warmer months. 

Arches National Park was Once a Beach Destination

Well, this one is not quite accurate, because while the land where Arches National Park sits was once an inland sea, that was around 300 million years ago, well before humans began craving a day on the water. 

Geologists believe this body of water evaporated and re-formed nearly 30 times.

Each time this shift occurred, it built salt beds thousands of feet thick.

Stone eventually buried these beds, and as the salt rises up through the rock it creates the ridge sand domes the park is known for today. 

Arches National Park Contains Lots of Vegetation

The extreme heat and low rainfall present in Arches National Park may lead you to believe that the land is relatively barren.

In reality, more than 400 species of plants not only survive in the region, but thrive. 

Animals also make the park home.

Around 186 different species of birds have been documented in Arches National Park, as well as an array of lizards and small mammals found throughout the park.

Different species are active at various times, depending on weather conditions.

While you may not spot many creatures during your trip, it’s interesting to know that they are present and flourishing. 

Recognize Arches but Can’t Seem to Place it?

As you gaze at some of the stunning photography of the region, you may feel as though you recognize parts of Arches National Park.

That might be due to the fact that an image of Mesa Arch was a popular wallpaper for the Windows 7 operating system. 

Windows carefully chooses images that inspire a sense of wonder and awe, which makes it easy to see how an iconic shot of sunrise at Mesa Arch would make the cut.

You can see this scene in real life by making your way down an easy 0.5 mile trail to Mesa Arch. 

The Awe-Inspiring Arches Look Strong but are Actually Quite Delicate

One of the reasons to make Arches National Park a part of your travel plans is the fact that these impressive geologic structures won’t be around forever.

Even though they are made of stone, arches can collapse with little warning.

Wall Arch has been around longer than human civilization, and few who’ve seen this natural arch ever thought they would be around to witness its demise.

The opening beneath the arch measured 71 feet wide and almost 34 feet tall. 

Even so, the arch collapsed overnight on August 4, 2008. 

Campers in the nearby Devils Canyon Campground reported hearing thunder during clear skies that night, which may have been the sound of this natural wonder coming to an end.

This is an excellent reminder that all natural arches are temporary, no matter how big and strong they appear.

Visiting now could allow you to see something that will soon be lost forever. 

There is Mystery in the Geology of Arches National Park

Geologists make it their business to know everything they can about how the earth’s rock is formed and transformed, but there are limits to what scientists understand.

Arches National Park has geologic mysteries that intrigue amateur and professional geologists to this day. 

One such mystery is Upheaval Dome, an area of more than 3 miles of rock layers that scientists refer to as “dramatically deformed.”

Researchers know that this dome was not created through “normal” geologic conditions, but are not quite clear on what alternative explanation fits. 

Some believe the dome was created when a meteor struck the earth nearly 60 million years ago.

You can explore the dome for yourself on one of the many hikes in the area, and see what you think may have created such an impressive feature. 

If you’re searching for an awe-inspiring trip to one of America’s iconic national parks, Arches National Park is well worth consideration.

Save money on your national park visits with the America the Beautiful Pass.

Time your visit carefully to avoid excessive temperatures, and spend some time researching the features of the park so you can see everything that interests you. 

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