• South Window

    Arches

    National Park Utah

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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?

John Wesley Wolfe

In the late 1800s, John Wesley Wolfe, a disabled Civil War veteran, and his son, Fred, built a homestead in what is now Arches National Park. A weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral remain as evidence of the primitive ranch they operated for more than 10 years.