Use the players below to listen to an audio version of our park brochure. You can download the files by clicking links below each player. You can also get a CD version of this brochure at the visitor center.
Track one is a track listing for the brochure. Track two is an overview of Arches National Park. Track three is about “The Story Geologists Tell”, which discusses history, park plants and wildlife, geology of the area, and the biological soil crust. Track four is about “Exploring Arches,” which discusses major trails, travel
information for your enjoyment and safety, accessibility, other safety information, regulations including pets in the park, backcountry use, and contact information.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
At the top half of the page is a photograph with the caption “Delicate Arch”. It shows the silhouette of a visitor standing in the center of Delicate Arch against a brilliant array of stars, lighting up the night sky in hues of purple and orange. The Milky Way is a visible band of light stretching diagonally across the sky from the upper left to the center of the arch. Delicate Arch is an elongated vertical arch with the left side having a skinny pinched section and the right side with a much thicker base.
Water, ice, extreme temperatures, and gravity sculpt the rock at Arches National Park, which contains one of the world’s greatest concentrations of natural stone arches. There are more than 2,000 arches here, ranging from a 3 foot opening, the minimum considered an arch, to the 306-foot span at Landscape Arch. Towering spires, pinnacles, and balanced rocks vie with the arches as scenic spectacles.
It’s difficult to imagine the 70 million years of slow, yet sometimes extreme erosion that creates the landscape we see today, but new arches are always being formed and old ones wearing away. In 1991, for example, a rock slab 60 feet long, 11 feet wide, and 4 feet thick, suddenly fell from the underside of Landscape Arch, a fast, violent change to this ancient span.
THE STORY GEOLOGISTS TELL
At the top half of the page is a photograph with the caption “Devils Garden.” This photograph shows sandstone fins in Devils Garden, a cluster of long vertical rock formations stretching into the sky like fingers. The rocks are orange with lighter beige horizontal striations. At the base of the rock, formations are green desert shrubs and grasses. The white and pink clouds are low in the bright-blue sky.
The park lies on top of an underground salt bed. Thousands of feet thick in places, it was deposited across the Colorado Plateau 300 million years ago by a sea that eventually evaporated. Over millions of years, a blanket of sediment from floods, winds, and the oceans was compressed over it into rock, at one time possibly a mile thick.
Because salt under pressure is unstable, it shifted, buckled, and repositioned itself deep underground, thrusting rock layers above upward into domes and ridges. The hard rock layers cracked during this process and water worked to erode and carry sediments away — layer by layer— eventually exposing the arch-forming Entrada Sandstone layer we see today.
Water continues to shape this environment more than any other force. Rain erodes the rock and carries sediment down the washes and canyons. In winter, snowmelt pools in fractures and other cavities, and through the freeze-thaw cycle breaks off chunks of sandstone. Small recesses develop and grow bigger with passing time. Little by little, this process turns fractured rock layers into fins, and fins into arches. Arches also merge when potholes near cliff edges grow deeper and deeper until they wear through the cliff wall below them.
At the top right corner of the page is a photograph with the caption “North Window Arch." This photograph shows a woman standing with her arms stretched in the air in the center of the North Window Arch. North Window is comprised of various shades of orange and tan, and the opening is shaped like an eye. Patches of white snow are covering the base of the arch, with green pinyon-juniper woodlands in the foreground. The bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds starkly contrast against the orange tones
of the arch.
Native Americans used this area for thousands of years. The Archaic peoples, and later ancestral Puebloan, Fremont, and Ute peoples, searched the arid desert for animals and plants to eat, and also shaped stones for tools and weapons. Evidence of their passing is left on a few pictograph and petroglyph panels found scattered throughout the area.
The first early explorers came looking for gold and silver, while ranchers found wealth in grasses for cattle and sheep. Disabled Civil War veteran John Wesley Wolfe and his son, Fred, settled near Delicate Arch in the late 1800s. The weathered log cabin, root cellar, and corral they operated for over 20 years still stand today. A visit to Wolfe Ranch is a walk into the past.
Park Plants and Wildlife
Pinyon and gnarled juniper trees add splashes of green to the red sandstone terrain. Wildflowers bloom from April to July. Most mammals are active at night, but you might see mule deer, kit foxes, jackrabbits and cottontails, kangaroo rats and other rodents, and small reptiles. Flocks of blue pinyon jays chatter in tree tops, and the park is home to golden eagles and migratory birds like mountain bluebirds.
Biological Soil Crust
A living soil crust covers much of the untrammeled desert. Often invisible until fully
mature (when it appears dark and bumpy), it is composed of cyanobacteria, lichen, algae, and fungi. It prevents erosion, absorbs moisture, and provides nitrogen and other nutrients for plant growth. Avoid crushing it by staying on trails. Without the crust, many larger plants could not survive, and if plants go, so do animals.
In the middle section of the brochure is a map of Arches National Park. Arches National Park comprises approximately 76,500 acres in eastern Utah. The main park road is accessed from the southwest along Highway 191 and offers 23 miles of scenic landscape. The visitor center is located just past the entrance station. The road continues 18 miles north through the center of the park with two turn-offs to the east, The Windows and Delicate Arch scenic endpoints. Dozens of overlooks and trailheads are easily accessed from the main road, including (from south to north): Park Avenue
Viewpoint and Trailhead, Courthouse Towers Viewpoint, Balanced Rock, Skyline Arch,
and Landscape Arch. The popular Devils Garden Trailhead and Devils Garden Campground are located at the end of the park road to the north. The four-wheel drive roads are accessed at Balanced Rock and near Skyline Arch. Picnic areas are located across from Balanced Rock and near the campground.
At the top half of the page is a photograph with the caption “Turret Arch”. This photograph shows Turret Arch with its vibrant rust-and- orange tones contrasted against a dusky blue sky. From the perspective of the photograph, the arch opening is centered in the rock formation and shaped like an upside-down tear drop. To the right of the main opening is a much smaller oval opening, about a quarter the size. The right side of the arch is a vertical rock tower that tapers toward the top. A bright white-and- grey full moon is low in the sky to the left of the arch. Visitors at the base of the arch are dwarfed by its magnitude.
At the bottom left hand corner of the page is a photograph with the caption “Double Arch”. This photograph shows Double Arch, an impressive pair of arches towering above the low angle of the camera lens. The massive tan and faded orange rock formations stretch across the bright blue sky. From the perspective of the photograph, one arch with a wide opening frames a second arch with a stocky top further in the distance. Dark orange vertical stripes appear to drip down the left part of the rock formation and a shadow is cast on the right half of the photograph.
Arches National Park is a great family park. The striking scenery is visible from a car, but the aura of time, silence, and scale may elude you unless you also walk the trails. Stop at the visitor center to watch the orientation film, see the exhibits, and browse the publications and gift shop. A self-guiding booklet and audio tour are available. In season, naturalists lead Fiery Furnace walks; make reservations and pay fees online at recreation.gov. Ask about other ranger-guided programs or privately operated tours. There is no food or lodging in the park, but Moab offers full visitor services.
Devils Garden Campground, open all year, has 52 sites and centrally located flush toilets and water. Two group sites (tents only, no RVs) are for groups of 11 or more. Reservations for individual sites and both group sites must be made on-line March-October at recreation.gov. at least four days in advance. Visit www.nps.gov/arch or call the park information line at 435-719- 2299.
Trail distances are round-trip, unless otherwise noted. Trails are listed from south to north.
Balanced Rock is a loop trail that is 0.3 mi or 0.5 km. It is an easy walk around the base of Balanced Rock and is wheelchair accessible.
North and South Window and Turret Arch can be viewed by a short loop trail that is 0.6 miles or 1.1 km.
Double Arch is a 0.8 mi/1.2 km trail. It is an easy trail through some loose sand for a view of a spectacular arch.
Delicate Arch is a 3.0 mi/4.8 km trail. There is an elevation gain of 480 feet or 146 meters. There is no shade on the trail; take at least 1 quart of water per person! The trail crosses open slick-rock with some exposure to heights. This trail is best at sunset.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint provides a view of Delicate Arch from across a small canyon. There is no access to the arch from this trail.
Landscape Arch is a 1.6 mi/2.6 km trail. The trail is moderately easy with some elevation gain, and has a gravel surface. This trail allows for short side trips to Tunnel and Pine Tree arches.
Tower Arch is a 3.4 mi/5.5 km trail. It is moderately difficult in the remote section of Klondike Bluffs. The trail has some sand and elevation changes.
Travel Information for Your Enjoyment and Safety
The park visitor center offers brochures, hiking and driving guides, books, topographic maps, park conditions reports, and a ranger activity schedule. Service animals are welcome. For firearms regulations see the park website or ask a ranger.
At the top of the page is a photograph with the caption “Three Gossips and Courthouse Towers”. This photograph shows the Three Gossips and Courthouse Towers, a series of tall, vertical rock walls in the foreground of a desert canyon. The vibrant, rust-orange tones of the rock are contrasted against a blue and pink sky stretching out over the canyon. Massive rock formations on the left are topped with vertical towers. Horizontal cracks stretch across the rock features.
For Your Safety
Daytime temperatures here can reach 110°F (43°C) during the summer months. Carry and drink at least 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day. Heat and dehydration can be fatal.
Roads are narrow and winding. Don't stop in the road to sightsee. Use pull-outs and viewpoints, and stay on designated roads. Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists. Keep a safe passing distance (3 feet/1 meter minimum).
Bicycles are allowed only on designated roads, not on trails or in the backcountry. Ride single file.
Sandstone crumbles and breaks easily. Remember, it’s easier to climb up than down; don’t get stranded. Rock climbing is permitted, but prohibited on all arches and some features. Check website for current closures.
Flash floods can occur without warning. Never camp in a dry wash or drive across a flooded area.
Stay on trails or walk on rock or in drainages to protect the fragile biological soil crust. This delicate, ecologically vital community is the basis of desert life.
The visitor center and its restrooms are accessible. Contact the park about accessibility on trails, at restrooms, and in the campground.
All federal and state laws are strictly enforced. Everything in the park (plants, animals, rocks, and cultural resources) is protected by law and must be left undisturbed. No hunting or shooting is permitted. Gathering wood is prohibited. Bring fuel for grills, which are provided. Carry out all trash, even cigarette butts.
Pets are allowed only on paved park roads, parking lots, or in your campsite, and must be physically restrained at all times. Pets are not permitted on or off trails, in the backcountry, or in buildings. CAUTION: unattended pets in vehicles on warm days can quickly die from heat exhaustion.
Backcountry overnight hikers must get permits at the visitor center. There are no designated backcountry trails or campsites. Low-impact camping techniques are essential. You must carry your water. No fires allowed.
For More Information
You can write to Arches National Park at
P.O. Box 907
Moab, Utah 84532-0907
You can also call
435-719- 2299 (voice) or by TTY at 435-719- 2319
Or visit the website at www.nps.gov/arch
Arches National Park is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and programs in America’s communities, visit www.nps.gov
An insert within this brochure includes the following information on federal gun regulations: In 2010, Congress approved a law allowing loaded firearms in national parks. That means people can carry legal handguns, rifles, shotguns and other firearms, and also may carry concealed guns as allowed by state statute. However, there are many important restrictions on the transportation and use of guns under state and federal laws.
Although it is now legal to carry loaded guns in national parks, guns cannot be fired except in rare circumstances. Hunting is illegal in most national parks except under special permits. Target practice also is banned.
For national security reasons, guns cannot be carried into federal facilities within national parks. Notice of this rule will be clearly displayed outside all federal facilities.
It is illegal in most states to carry a gun while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Federal law applies state law to the possession of guns in national parks. Because some national parks are in more than one state, the laws governing firearms may change depending on your location within that park. It is your responsibility to understand individual state laws and to know which state you are in when in a multi-state national park.
State laws governing guns vary widely. In most states, for example, you must be at least 18 years old. Depending on the state, guns may not be allowed on shuttle buses or boats, and a permit may be required to carry concealed guns. It is your responsibility to know and understand what laws apply. It also is your responsibility to ensure guns are stored safely.
Other weapons such as bows, swords, and pellet or BB guns remain prohibited by the National Park Service.
Last updated: April 26, 2017