• Double O Arch

    Arches

    National Park Utah

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?

Detail of petroglyph panel

Native Americans never inhabited Arches on a year-round basis, though they certainly roamed the area searching for wild game, useful plants and rocks for tool-making. Petroglyphs near Wolfe Ranch are thought to have been created by Indians from the Ute/Paiute cultures. More...