online book
book cover
Cover Page





Aztec Ruins

Capulin Mountain

Casa Grande

Chaco Canyon


Craters of the Moon

Devils Tower


El Morro

Fossil Cycad

George Washington Birthplace

Glacier Bay

Gran Quivira



Lewis and Clark Cavern

Montezuma Castle

Muir Woods

Natural Bridges


Petrified Forest


Pipe Spring

Rainbow Bridge

Scotts Bluff

Shoshone Cavern





Yucca House

Glimpses of Our
National Monuments


One of the bridges in the Devil's Garden section.
Photo by Geo. L. Beam. Courtesy Denver & Rio Grande Western R. R. Co.

Superb examples of wind erosion are contained in the Arches National Monument, in Grand County, Utah, which was established by presidential proclamation dated April 12, 1929. It has an area of 4,520 acres.

Utah is noted for its canyons and bridges, cut in the desert sandstone primarily through the erosional effects of running water. In the Arches area, however, the fantastic and bizarre rock creations are not water hewn, but were produced by the hot desert winds, aided by the occasional rains that occur even in this nearly arid country. Arches, caves, castlelike piles, window openings, chimneys, bridges, and walls, all have been carved by nature from the massive red sandstone.

The monument contains two tracts, known locally as the "Devil's Garden" and the "Windows," which are separated by a wide desert valley. A total of 2,600 acres is contained in the Devil's Garden section, with the remaining 1,920 acres in the Windows.

The main feature of the Windows section is an immense sandstone pile, with doors and windows, resembling a huge battlemented castle. Seeing it for the first time, one might almost think it the weathered ruin of some man-built stronghold. There are other smaller castles, windowed cathedrals, walled courts connected by long passageways, and everywhere, no matter which way the observer turns, natural window openings and arches. The openings range from windows a foot or two in diameter to natural bridges of a hundred feet or more in diameter. Some are completely formed, while others are still in the making. In the great walls are eight natural arches of enormous size, and at one point a double arch 200 feet high makes an almost perfect circle. There are balanced rocks here, too, in almost every conceivable form and shape; pyramids of sandstone several hundred feet high, and tall, separate, slender sandstone spires.

The Devil's Garden is located in a continuous sandstone ridge, so eroded as to be intensely interesting from both a scenic and a geologic standpoint. A few natural windows and bridges occur here, but these are the least interesting of this section's formations. Huge amphitheaters, joined by narrow, twisting passageways, are filled with a countless variety of rock formations, some in the form of towers and pyramids, others topped by steeples, turrets, columns, and minarets. In the center of one amphitheater is a high shaft of rock resting on a pedestal composed of layers of sandstone. Some of these courtlike open places are completely surrounded by interesting monoliths. Many of the spires, pinnacles, and sentinels are several hundred feet high.

Both the Windows and the Devil's Garden were discovered by Alex Ringhoffer, a prospector of the region. According to him some of the caves have the appearance of having been artificially closed, and he is inclined to believe that in them may some day be found mummies carefully laid away by some long-vanished race.

The Arches National Monument, which is one of the southwestern group under the general supervision of Superintendent Pinkley, is located near Moab, Utah, and may be reached by horseback from Moab, or by car and horseback from Thompson, Utah.


Last Modified: Thurs, Oct 19 2000 10:00:00 pm PDT

ParkNet Home