Page 2


There are other famous rock formations in Arches National Park besides its arches.  This is called the Three Gossips!  And behind and to the right is the Sheep Rock -- geologists think that it might have been the right leg of an enormous double arch, long fallen (see below) -- we'll never know.  The policeman-in-the-trunk scene from Thelma and Louise was shot right here, for some reason (the main park road goes right past this spot).  But they were supposed to be desperately escaping to Mexico!  What on earth were they doing on a dead-end road that goes straight north through Arches National Park?  They would have had to stop and pay a fee to get in, too.  And not a single other car comes by for the whole duration of that scene, as if it's some boondock back road... yeah sure -- there would have been a constant stream of cars, RV's, and tour busses the whole time -- it's the only way in and out of the park!

This shows how the fallen double arches might have looked:  





The Baby Arch is the first arch you see after driving into Arches National Park -- if you see it.  It is right behind the Three Gossips, and is an excellent example of how many arches are made.  First, a thin fin of rock develops some cracks, as can be seen around the opening here.  Then rain water gets into the cracks, and little by little washes out grains of rock.  In the winter often the rain water freezes, which causes it to expand -- this increases the size of the crack, which may fill up with water again, which again freezes and expands the crack.  This is an extremely slow process.  But after an opening is started, sometimes pressure from all the rock above weighing down on the opening can cause "exfoliation", which is when pieces of rock chip off suddenly.  On rare occasions, an arch can increase its size dramatically, even within seconds... but the forces leading up to that sudden event took many thousands of years.  See the Skyline Arch below for an example.



The impressive Skyline Arch is seen by practically everybody who drives the whole length of the park road, being right beside the road near its end.  It is the most dramatic example ever recorded of an arch suddenly increasing its size, literally overnight.   In November of 1940, a massive boulder broke loose and slid out of the opening, more than doubling the size of the arch.  A "before" picture is shown below this picture.  


Ring Arch
Hardly a visitor in a thousand gets to see this interesting arch.  There are no signs or trails leading to it, and it can be difficult to find without a topographical map -- it took me three tries.  Even though some parts of the park get too many visitors, there are still many isolated areas and arches you can visit where you may be the only person who has been there for days.


Another hidden, isolated arch in the park is the little Box Arch -- which made a nice flat place for me to rest one hot day. 



The Tunnel Arch
is near the Landscape Arch in the northern section of Arches Park.  It is an impressive circular span, complete here with a German tourist who had to make a mighty dash to get up the slope.  Notice the secondary pothole opening to the left.  







The Partition Arch
is one of the highest arches in the park and has the grandest view of any of them.  The partition that gives it its name technically separates it into two separate arches.  But when you are standing on the other side of the partition, which is just a large arm of rock coming down from the main span, it feels like one large, impressive arch.



                                Another famous rock formation in Arches National Park is the Balanced Rock.  The snowy LaSal mountains are behind. 





The Eye of the Whale
gets missed by most visitors to Arches National Park, though it is not far from the main road, up a rough 4-wheel-drive road from the Balanced Rock. 




Leaping Arch
In the same butte as the Eye of the Whale, on the north end; not sure what the name means, I just know it's one of the most frustrating arches to get inside that I've ever encountered.  Often you can tell that an arch is simply impossible to get inside, at least for untrained climbers, or that it's too dangerous... but this one just looks like it ought to be easy, or at least possible!  But no, I've tried 5 times, from the top and from both sides... even going to far as to take a rope once (with somebody to help lift me back up), and another time to carry some boards and screws out with me in an attempt to make a ladder.  But no, failure!  But at least I have been right on top of it.  




Tower Arch 
This seems to have been the first arch in the park to have been "discovered", or at least publicized, and led to the eventual discovery of all the others; which is ironic since it is now the remotest and least-visited of all the really major arches in the park.  It is farther up the same 4WD road as the Eye of the Whale, and then involves a very sandy hike -- walking in sand is not fun and is not easy!  But this grand arch with its impressive tower is well worth the effort; and on a busy spring day with too many tourists in the park, you may very well the the only one at the Tower Arch.  




Crystal Arch:
This pretty and colorful arch gets few visitors, being far off the main trail in the Devil's Garden area of the park.  Only a small trail goes to it, though bushwhacking your way out to it from the Pine Tree Arch is the quickest route.  The outcrop of rock which contains it can be seen when looking through the Pine Tree Arch.  The arch has a small window to the right of the main opening.




The Pine Tree Arch is a good-sized span, close to the Landscape Arch, and easy to get to from the main trail.  It would no doubt get more appreciation if it wasn't so near that famous giant; most people just give it a glance on their way to its enormous neighbor.

Back to Home Page