• South Window

    Arches

    National Park Utah

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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?

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.