- ARCHES NATIONAL PARK (Utah) Part 1 -


   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

Utah Home Page:      Arches National Park Part 2:      Canyonlands:
Monument Valley:      Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake:  
Moab and the Colorado River:      Canyonlands:      Utah Miscellany:      
America West Home Page:      Guest Book:
Colin Day's List-O-Links:
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THE ARCHES NATIONAL PARK extends about 15 miles north-to-south and about 10 miles east-to-west, and covers around 115 square miles ( 73,400 acres). It contains over two thousand natural sandstone arches and a variety of unique rock formations that are emphasised by contrasting colors and textures.
    For over 300 million years, water and wind deposited materials from a variety of environments onto what is now the Colorado Plateau. Over time, the remains of these various environments were cemented into the layers of sedimentary rock visible today.
    Roughly 15 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau began lifting and the Green and Colorado rivers, which cut through the layered sandstones, became trapped and later carved the deep, meandering canyons visible today. Rain and melting snows from local mountain ranges such as the Abajos and La Sals drained into these rivers and caused the formation of a network of tributary canyons.
    Significant faulting of the rock strata occurred in some areas when a deep layer of salt (Paradox Formation) liquefied under the weight of overlying sandstones. The shifting salt caused the surface rock to bow and fracture and even collapse downward. The result of this movement is dramatic in both Arches and the Needles District of Canyonlands. Over time, floods and the action of water freezing and thawing enlarged these fractures and eroded the sandstone into a variety of spectacular shapes.
    Hunter-gatherers migrated into the area about 10,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age and found pockets of chert and chalcedony, microcrystalline quartz which were perfect materials for making stone tools. By chipping or knapping these rocks they formed dart points, knives, and scrapers. While no ancient dwellings have been found in Arches, the are forms the northern edge of ancestral Pueblo territory, People living in modern-day pueblos like Acoma, Cochiti, Santa Clara, Taos, and the Hopi Mesas are descendants of the ancestral Pueblo people.
    The first Europeans to explore the Southwest were Spaniards. The Old Spanish Trail linking Santa Fe and Los Angeles ran along the same route, past the park visitor centre, that the highway (191) does today. maparchespark.gif - 44154 Bytes
    In 1855 the Mormons tried to establish a mission in what is now Moab but fights with the local tribes, resulting in the death of three settlers, forced them to abandon the project. In the 1880s and 1890s, Moab was settled permanently by ranchers, prospectors, and farmers. Around 1898 John Wesley Wolfe, a veteran of the Civil War, built the surviving homestead known as Wolfe Ranch on Salt Wash and it can be seen at the start of the Delicate Arch Trail. Wolfe and his family lived there for about ten years before moving back to Ohio.
    Loren “Bish” Taylor, who took over the Moab newspaper in 1911 when he was only eighteen years old wrote frequently about the beauty of the red rock country around Moab and in particular about the spectacular Arches formations. In 1923 a prospector named Alexander Ringhoffer wrote to the Rio Grande Western Railroad in an effort to publicise the area and gain support for creating a national park, The railroad executives visited the area and were impressed to the extent that a presevation campaign was started.
    On 12 April 1929, President Herbert Hoover signed the legislation creating the Arches National Monument in order to protect the arches, spires, balanced rocks, and other sandstone formations. On 12 November 1971 Congress changed the status of Arches to a National Park. See also a history of Moab here.
    The map above shows park entrance just five miles from the town of Moab and the first part of the road through the park.

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The arch on the right may be seen on the southern approach road into Moab. It is not a part of the National Park.

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The La Sal Mountains viewed fom the Arches National Park.

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The Courthouse Towers and Organ formations.

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An arch in The Windows section of the park.

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