diagram of fins and arches Arches National Park is a masterpiece of erosion, and we were spellbound by it’s splendor throughout our visit. 

An arch is a natural formation where a rock arch forms, with a natural passageway through underneath.  The opening must measure at least three feet to be cataloged as an arch.  Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches, with more than 2,000 of these, ranging from three feet to 306 feet. 

In addition to the arches, the park also contains colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, towering spires, and abstract pinnacles and pedestals.  It is virtually a wonderland of stone, all beautifully cinnamon tinted.

Even as you drive the five miles from Moab to the park entrance, you know from the surrounding scenery that you are in for a treat.IMG_9423

At the base of the park sits the Visitor Center.IMG_9460 IMG_9434b

The road begins to climb the instant you leave the Visitor’s Center.  Sections of the park sit over 1600 feet higher than Moab (highest park elevation is over 5600 feet).IMG_9449

Around just a few curves, you come to the parking area for Park Avenue.  This is one of the most majestic large vistas in the park.IMG_9542b

A little farther down the road is Courthouse Towers, with Tower of Babel, Sheep Rock and the Three Gossips.  As we gazed at Courthouse Towers, we realized there were people on the top, and with the aid of binoculars, were able to watch them rappel down the sheer side.

IMG_9581bIMG_9585  IMG_9599The camera’s telephoto lens was able to capture two of those rappelling down the side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sheep Rock was pretty distinctive, IMG_9584 but we decided the Three Gossips looked more like the Three Kings:

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Balanced Rock is one of many such balanced structures in the park, and you marvel at how they stay in place.IMG_9665

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And then there are the arches that give the park it’s name.  Several of the arches have been labeled.  We climbed to the North Window in the Windows Section.

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The view from the Window is great.IMG_9744

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From the same parking lot, the Double Arch is visible, IMG_9787

as is the formation, Parade of Elephants. 

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Perhaps the world’s most famous arch is Delicate Arch.  Delicate Arch has become a Utah icon, and has been featured for years on the Utah License Plate and once adorned a Postage Stamp. In 2002 the Olympic Torch relay passed through the arch.utah stamp

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Delicate Arch can be seen from several different viewpoints.  To actually get to the arch requires a 3 mile strenuous hike.  As we had hiked quite a bit before getting to that area, we decided we were getting too fatigued to make a hike of that length, so we chose the half mile hike to a viewpoint across a ravine from the arch.  It was rather warm, and as we made the half mile hike, we were glad we had chosen it rather than the 3 mile.  The view of the arch was great.

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Hoyt and Bernice used the opportunity to rest before starting down.

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We were amazed at how much time we had spent along the 18 mile scenic drive through the park.  There were many arches we never got to see, but that gives us a reason to return.

For more of what we did see, click on this photo:slideshow start

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