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Utah's Arches National Park: Amazing Landscape Wonder near Moab

Utah is a fantastic state filled with natural wonders, including many beautiful state and national parks. We loved vacationing there!

Double arch

Double arch

Gateway to Two National Parks

Moab, Utah, is the gateway to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. It became our home away from home when 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. It is adjacent to the Colorado River, with the LaSal Mountains at its feet. Interestingly Moab gets its 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 Americans being there in earlier times, and they have left some evidence of their existence by leaving pictographs and petroglyphs behind.

What draws people to the town of Moab today is tourism, plus the making of films, because of its proximity to the national parks.

Moab is a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah.

Moab is a city in Grand County, in eastern Utah.

Geologic Changes Over Time

Arches sit atop an ancient salt bed. Deposited over millions of years when a sea flowed into the area and, as 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 became liquefied and shifted, and the earth began to thrust upwards, creating domes, faults, and valleys. Erosion over millions of years has created and continues to make 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 a 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 pieces of sandstone become chipped away from existing formations creating the arches and other rock structures seen in this area. This process continues, and the present-day ones 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 on view in a relatively small area in the entire world.

Early Settlers

The history of this park is fascinating. It is in the southeastern red rock country of Utah. The Colorado River borders some of this area, and there is a remnant of the Old Spanish Trail.

Homesteaders in 1879 came to this area. The discovery of uranium, oil, and potash brought more development.

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 National Park

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 now benefits from the foresight of these Presidents. Safeguarding of these precious lands for future generations is now assured.

Arches National Park is 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, serving to hold some of the shifting sands in place. It also provides shade and sustenance to insects, small rodents, and other creatures that reside or pass through here.

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We 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.

Our Experiences

We choose to stay at the Cedar Breaks Condo in Moab. It was a fully-furnished two-bedroom condo with food for breakfast provided. We could prepare our breakfasts each morning and enjoy a coffee while still in our pajamas and planning our day. Nice! The next day our goal was to see as much of the park as we could.

We saw what we could from the road and hiked several of the trails to see some of the other arches in this national park. 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.

The trails can be rocky with the need to scramble over rocks to continue on the path; others are quite sandy, and since we were there in the summer, it was assuredly 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 had only one day to view this park. We would explore Canyonlands National Park on another day while staying in Moab. One could spend much more time, and there are many backcountry trails where one can take four-wheel-drive vehicles and do some extensive hiking.

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. Head out and explore Arches for a day or more of sightseeing, hiking, taking pictures, or just enjoying the natural wonders of nature.

“Mother Nature is a master sculptor and in no place is that more evident than at Arches National Park.”

— Stefanie Payne, A Year in the National Parks: The Greatest American Road Trip


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 11, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I am so pleased that you really enjoyed seeing and learning about the spectacular Arches National Park. Your last quoted sentence says it all. "Mother Nature is a master sculptor and in no place is that more evident than at Arches National Park."

manatita44 from london on March 11, 2021:

Stunningly beautiful and even more so in the videos. Amazing! This is probably the best I've seen of your visual collections, or let's just say it appeals to me a lot. Yes, I agree that the natives left a lot behind. No surprise that it is so rich in minerals.

When I was a boy I would often visit the caves of the ancient Caribs and Arawaks, built before the French arrived, then the British. It was amazing what they did without the use of modern tools. A Fascinating piece, Peggy.

"“Mother Nature is a master sculptor and in no place is that more evident than at Arches National Park." So true!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

It is such a pleasure to remember these fabulous trips and be able to share these experiences with others. I am happy that you enjoyed this look at Arches National Park.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 10, 2021:


I'm so glad you have been able to take these vacations and explore.

The rest of us get to see a glimpse of these wondrous sites through your eyes.

Thank you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2021:

Hi Devika,

Thanks so much for your visit and comment on Arches National Park. I always enjoy your photos from your part of the world.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2021:

Hi Devika,

National parks worldwide are worthy places to visit. We are blessed that we have so many of them in the U.S. I am happy that you enjoyed this virtual visit to Arches National Park. It is a beauty!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 10, 2021:

Peggy Your travels are adventurous and great tips for traveling to such destinations.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 10, 2021:

Hi Peggy you share great experiences in your local trips and this is a beautiful place. National parks are interesting and shows the beauty of a country as in yours.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 09, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing some of the natural beauty found in Arches National Park. Thanks for your comment.

Misbah Sheikh on March 09, 2021:

Peggy, I love the way you share the natural beauty

Thanks for sharing this beautiful article

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 09, 2021:

Hi Betty,

Those arches sculpted out of stone are amazing to see up close. It was such a pleasure to be able to see Arches National Park and the nearby Canyonlands. It is a trip etched in my memories. Thanks for your virtual visit.

Betty on March 08, 2021:

Architecturally majestic arches. Absolutely beautiful. You are so fortunate to have experienced this national park.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 21, 2014:

Hi Shyron,

Arches National Park is a gem as are the other 4 national parks in Utah. If you ever get a chance to visit there again, I would highly recommend seeing them. Thanks for the votes, pin and share. We certainly do have a beautiful country! :))

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 20, 2014:

Wow, I would loved to have visited this place. Love the Junipers I guess they can grow just about anywhere. We have the most beautiful country in the world.

Thank you for showing parts of it. We were in Utah but I don't remember seeing the arches.

Voted up UABI shared and pinned to Amazing HP and shared.



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2014:

Hello Homeplace Series,

We visited all 5 national parks and some of the state parks as well in Utah one year on vacation. Capital Reef is a spectacular park. Loved it! Actually I loved visiting all of them and they each have their own distinctive character as well as some similarities. Appreciate your comment.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on July 19, 2014:

Thank you for bringing this fine park to our attention. My daughter lives a bit to the southwest, in Wayne County, near the entrance to Capital Reef National Park, another fine Utah park. So happy to read this neat hub! ;-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 19, 2014:

Hi Phyllis,

So very glad you enjoyed these photos taken in Arches National Park. As you so nicely stated "The beauty and mystery of Nature is profound." Thanks for the share.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on July 18, 2014:

Hi Peggy. I read this hub early this morning and forgot to leave a comment. I was so amazed with the photos and the information you provided. Going back to see the photos again is why I forgot to comment. Voted up, across and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 18, 2014:

Hi Jackie,

So happy to be able to show these photos and share some of our experiences there in the beautiful Arches National Park. I appreciate your comment and the share!

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on July 18, 2014:

Awesome photos and a great hub. The beauty and mystery of Nature is profound. I so enjoyed this hub, Peggy.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 18, 2014:

Breathtaking beauty! Will never be out that way so appreciate getting to live it and see it through you; thanks. Up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 15, 2014:

Hi moonlake,

Utah is a spectacular state to visit and spend some time vacationing. So much of it is public lands be it either national parks, state parks or other reserves. Glad you liked this. Thanks for the share.

moonlake from America on July 15, 2014:

Utah must be a beautiful state. My cousin is always putting photos on that she takes and they are so beautiful. I haven't been there, but enjoyed your hub. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2014:

Hi Au fait,

Thanks for the pin on your travel board. Fortunately I did not spot any scorpions when we were there. Of course I was not looking for them either. We really enjoyed our visit there. Wish I could have seen it a number of times like you got to do. I would love to do more hiking there.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 18, 2014:

Visited this place several times -- every time relatives came to visit us when we lived in Grand Junction. It was just over the border and always interesting to see. They have some pretty good sized scorpions there too.

Pinned this to my travel board with a different picture this time. I think my travel board is even more popular than my purple boards. I should really call it my Peggy Wood board. :) Shared also.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

You are fortunate that you have been able to visit Arches National Park many different times. We loved what we got to see of it on our one day tour of the vast park. You have undoubtedly seen much more of it. Thanks for the votes and shares.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 16, 2013:

This used to be just a little way over the border from where I lived in Grand Junction Co. Have been here many times. Every visitor who came to see us got to see these scenic and interesting places. Spectacular photos as always, and packed with information. Voted up, BAUI, gave you another 5 stars, pinned this article to my 'Travel' board and will share!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2013:

Hello anglnwu,

Nice that you have personally experienced visiting Arches National Park. I agree that it is nice to experience the shade of the arches especially if it is in the heat of the summer months. Thanks for your comment and vote up.

anglnwu on April 12, 2013:

I was there a while back and I've to agree--it is spectacular and awe-inspiring. I love the rock formation and I marvel at how cool it is under the arches. Great hub and detailed information. Rated up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

We really enjoyed doing a bit of hiking in Arches National Park. It is a beautiful place and anyone liking natural landscapes...such as you...would surely enjoy it. Nice to know that you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for the votes and share.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 12, 2013:

Such natural beauty, the pictures speak for themselves. I loved reading the history and have always have had a fascination for natural landscapes.

Voted up, awesome and interesting. Shared as well.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 07, 2013:

Hi vespawoolf,

We actually stayed in a furnished condo where we could have breakfast in our pajamas each morning. That was nice! Perhaps someday you will follow in your father-in-law's footsteps and get to see Arches National Park for yourself. Am certain that you would love it. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 06, 2013:

Hi Deborah,

Seeing Arches National Park from the air would give one an overview of its size and would be interesting to see the stone arches from that perspective. You would also have probably viewed Canyonlands National Park since they are so close to one another. Thanks for letting me know that you appreciated the photos and information in this hub.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on March 05, 2013:

What beautiful desert scenery! My father-in-law visited and also enjoyed himself immensely. I'm all for the Italian restaurant and hotel that serves breakfast so you can talk about the day's plans in your pj's. : ) Another great Hub!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on March 05, 2013:

I've always wanted to visit this park but the closest I've come is seeing it from a plane on the way home from Vegas. (We had a great pilot who pointed out all the landmarks below.) Thanks for taking me there with this informative hub and the wonderful photos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 11, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

Thanks for journeying with me back to Arches National Park. It is quite a place as you could see from my photos. Thanks for your comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on October 11, 2012:

You are a brilliant travel guide Peggy and I have learnt so much from you, please keep them coming.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 16, 2012:

Hello Au fait,

How lucky you were to be living so close to Arches National Park! Since you have been there many times with guests, you have probably seen even more of the park than these photos show. It surely does have great hiking paths! Thanks for your comment, votes and the share.

C E Clark from North Texas on August 16, 2012:

A fantastic hub with superb pictures and videos! I've been to Arches National Park many times. It was about an hour's drive from where I lived in Colorado and whenever guests would visit, Arches National Park was one of the tours we always took them on. Great scenery and hiking trails.

Voted you up, beautiful, and awesome! Will share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2012:

Hi Alicia,

If you ever decide to travel to Utah to see Arches National Park, you will want to see Canyonlands National Park also since they are close to one another. We were there in the summer but it would be cooler at other times of the year. It is so well worth a visit! In fact all 5 national parks and other state parks that we visited in Utah were each and every one of them unique and interesting. To think that rocky places could be so different and each have a character of their own is hard to fathom before seeing them in person. Thanks for your comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 29, 2012:

The photos in this hub are fascinating and beautiful, Peggy! What an awesome park this must be. I would love to visit it, even though I don't like traveling through hot areas. It would be worth putting up with some discomfort to explore Arches National Park!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 11, 2011:

Hi Don,

As they is in the eye of the beholder. We enjoyed seeing Arches National Park as well as the other national and some of the state parks in Utah. Great place to see much undisturbed natural beauty! Thanks for your comment and votes.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on December 10, 2011:

Desert climates have a beauty of there own, although first look is not always this up,beautiful and interesting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 23, 2011:

Hi jaclin,

I would agree...spend AT LEAST that much time there. With 5 national parks and a multitude of state parks that entire state of Utah has so much in the way of public land to see and enjoy that you will come away with an overview in that length of time.

For people who want to spend more time in each area hiking, for instance, that is not nearly enough time. My mother could do some walking but could not do extended hikes. I actually walked a bit further in Arches National Park and saw a bit more but again, not nearly what serious hikers would have seen.

Each national park is so very different from every other one. You would think that once you have seen rock formations, they would all begin to look alike. Wrong! Each park has a distinct look and flavor.

Hope you get to spend time like you would like in Utah. We did not even get to see everything...but did our best in the time alloted! :-)

jaclin on February 23, 2011:

another very interesting hub... thank you for all that you put into them - I actually find your hubs, with so much information, really exciting in terms of looking at the various books recommended, the various you tube links that you put on... all add to the overall experience... I have discovered that before planning our next holiday I need to explore hubs... as the advice and information is just fantastic... Utah was not on our route for our 2010 road trip - but everyone that we know that has been to Utah suggest at least two weeks in the region to explore all the wonderful national parks... so it is on the route for our next road trip... hopefully in 2012...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2009:

Hi again SEM Pro,

Will have to look for your hub with those plants mentioned. Personally I think that all plants pretty much reduce stress. Gardening and enjoying nature, in general, does that. Don't you agree? What is the name of your hub with those adaptable plants?

SEM Pro from North America on July 20, 2009:

The plants (have on one of hubs) are so adaptable, they help us adapt and decrease our stress levels dramatically! Great stuff - there's a networking company that makes a juice of a few of them together. It's called "Tunguska Blast". I'm still looking for another place to get the plants themselves.

Comments were very true - deeper than flattery :) Thanks again and for visiting my latest "dream come true" lol

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2009:

Hello SEM Pro,

That is very interesting what you have added...the harvesting of plants that can adapt to living in other places.

Wow! A houseboat on Lake Havasu...something that I would love to experience sometime. Have you written a hub about that? Would be great to read.

Thanks for you flattering comments.

SEM Pro from North America on July 20, 2009:

WOW Peggy - this is an incredible hub!!! The research you put into it, explaining it all so well, added so much to the already spectacular scenery! Well done - great share - THOROUGHLY APPRECIATE IT!!!

There are plants now from the Siberian Desert that they are harvesting as "adaptogens" - phenominal natural capabilities for withstanding such brutal extremes.

I have explored the Anza Borega desert and rented a houseboat to meander through Lake Havasu in awe - but it was HOT! Then, as soon as the sun went down, the temp dropped over 20 degrees almost instantly.

Again, thank you for sharing and your research and great pics!!!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2009:

Hello loveroflife,

Thanks for being the first to comment on Arches National Park. Moab, Utah is conveniently located between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and we got to see them both. Hope you have seen them or get to see them someday. Truly "spectacular!"

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