Finding arches in this fractured landscape isn't as easy as it might sound. As recently as 1970, official literature stated that the park contained "nearly 90 arches," which is less than 0.05% of the current known total. It took a group of dedicated, curious "arch-hunters" to establish a scientific protocol for surveying the park and documenting its over 2,000 namesake features.
Dale Stevens, a geography professor, conducted the first scientific study of arches in the park beginning in 1973. He and his team developed a standardized method for measuring and recording arches. Ed McCarrick was a ranger at Arches in the 1970s and 1980s, and he, along with Stevens and Chris Moore, authored several books on the arches they documented. Doug Travers and his sons developed their own database for arches they located, while many others were found by Reuben Scolnik and Steve Frederick.
Three decades of concentrated exploration and discovery put many "new" arches on the map. Do you think they've all been found?
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.