“One of the largest concentrations of natural sandstone arches in the world,” – quote from National Park website
The main road through Arches National Park
will take you by many amazing sites.
An advantage of driving cross-country is you can stop at places like Arches National Park. The landscape is sculptured into many amazing designs. The rocks and rock walls are formed of sandstone that contains iron oxide, which gives them a dramatic red color.
Your fee at the entrance does include a map of the park. The first stop you make, when you enter the park, should be at the Visitors Center.
The visitor’s center has a vast amount of information to help you decide what you would like to see and things to do in the park. There is an orientation film that helps explain how the rock formations were formed and exhibits about geology, desert life and more. There is also a nice gift shop with a wide assortment of souvenirs.
Drive, Walk, Hike, Camp, Picnic, and 4 Wheel Roads
Depending on your preference, be it walking, hiking or camping there are many options for you here at this park. There are some areas that can only be reached by hiking. You can see a lot just from driving too. The visitor center even has suggested excursions based on what you like to do and how much time you have. There are picnic tables so take your time, bring a picnic and make your visit a full day. And for those that enjoy off-roading (street legal vehicles) there are 4 wheel roads for you too.
Balanced Rock formation can be seen from many points throughout the park. It is formed by two different types of materials. The pillar is softer then the rock on top, so eventually the rock will fall as the lower rock erodes away. The total height today is 128 feet (39 meters) with the top rock estimated to weigh 3,500 tons. It will make a great racket when it does fall and probably will kick up a lot of dust. There is a short walk around it so you can enjoy the view from all angels.
Two Window Arches – North and South Window
Yep there are many arches to be found. Some are easy to see from the road, then there are those that take a short walk and a few you need to be a serious hiker (bring lots of water please). The arches we visited are the North and South Arches, Turret Arch, Double Arch, and from a distance the Delicate Arch. All but the Delicate Arch are down the road to the right, right after the Balanced Rock parking area. Delicate Arch is further down the main road – follow the signs. There are many more arches to see the further you go on the main street, like – Pine Tree, Tunnel and Skyline to name a few. There have been over 2,000 arches recorded in the park, with old ones eroding and new ones being formed.
Delicate Arch view from the short path option.
The Delicate Arch has become an icon of the West. It is often seen in ads and websites. You can drive to two parking lots to visit this arch. The first lot is for those interested in hiking to the arch. The second one provides two viewing options from a distance of the arch without the long hike. With its iconic stature this is one arch that deserves a stop.
There are 417 national park ‘sites’ in the United States, of those 59 are designated as National Parks. We try to stop and visit one as often as possible.
You might ask what are the other 350+ national park sites? They include historical sites like battlefields, scenic trails, national monuments, national rivers and so much more. To learn about these treasures, please visit the national park services website.
They also have a site that will break down the parks by state, which can be very helpful in trip planning – click here.
Be it a local park or one in another state, take the time to visit your national parks.
Turret Arch (My favorite)
On day three of our cross-country USA road trip, we almost missed seeing this beautiful National Park – Arches. We had been driving and driving when my husband realized we would, practically, be going right by it. We were so excited when we looked on a map and found we had not missed it and that it was actually the NEXT off-ramp from the freeway. The weather was perfect and with the blue skies everything looked extra beautiful. A stop to remember.