• South Window

    Arches

    National Park Utah

Nature & Science

Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch
NPS Photo by Tom Gray
 

The forces of nature have acted in concert to create the landscape of Arches, which contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. Throughout the park, rock layers tell a story of millions of years of deposition, erosion and other geologic events. These layers continue to shape life in Arches today, as their erosion influences elemental features like soil chemistry and where water flows when it rains.

Arches is located in a "high desert," with elevations ranging from 4,085 to 5,653 feet above sea level. The climate is one of very hot summers, cold winters and very little rainfall. Even on a daily basis, temperatures may fluctuate as much as 50 degrees.

The native plants and animals at Arches are specially adapted to survive these conditions. The diversity of organisms reflects the variety of available habitat, which includes lush riparian areas, ephemeral pools, dry arroyos, mixed grasslands and large expanses of bare rock. Many non-native species have also colonized these habitats, especially in disturbed areas.

Though most of Arches' visitors see the park in daylight, some of the best views happen only at night -- far overhead. Arches' naturally dark night skies are older than the most ancient rocks, connecting us to the deep history of the universe.

Did You Know?

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Once feared of becoming extinct, desert bighorn sheep are making a tentative comeback in southeast Utah due to reintroduction efforts by the National Park Service. There are roughly 50 sheep in Arches, though their shy nature keeps them well-hidden from most visitors. More...