• South Window

    Arches

    National Park Utah

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  • Extreme Fire Danger

    Due to extremely dry conditions, fire restrictions are in effect in all national park units in Southeast Utah. More »

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch, one of the thousands of catalogued arches
NPS Photo by Tom Gray
 
To many, the most outstanding natural features of Arches are the park's geologic formations. Its namesake arches mingle with spires, balanced rocks, thin sandstone fins and undulating fields of ancient lithified sanddunes, to list just a few of the park's many landscapes.

But that rocky foundation supports a wide variety of ecosystems filled with desert life. From the microscopic communities of biological soil crust, to the unexpected aquatic oases of desert potholes, to the undeniable power of the Colorado River that forms the park's southeast boundary -- life abounds in every corner of the park.

Did You Know?

Close up of biological soil crust

The dirt is alive! A living crust called "Biological Soil Crust" covers much of Arches and the surrounding area. Composed of algae, lichens and bacteria, this crust provides a secure foundation for desert plants. Please stay on roads and trails to avoid trampling this important resource. More...