Though the biggest arches are found in the western desert states and in Kentucky, several other states have some interesting spans. And of course other countries have some too -- the Sahara in Libya and Chad has an impressive variety of arches, and some of the largest in the world are in China. But right here in the United States we have more than anywhere else. So here are a few from other states.
Monument Rocks: South of Oakley, NW Kansas
Arches, in Kansas? Seems pretty unlikely, but they've got a nice one. It's right down on ground level too; you can drive right to it, if you can figure out which obscure dirt road to take off the highway. Cows even wander through it all the time. And it will get bigger -- the rock isn't much more than hard, dried mud. But because of that, it won't last long, either. Oh, it may last a few more centuries, but that's not much compared to the sandstone arches of the desert, or the granite spans of Kentucky.
Death Valley Natural Bridge
In Death Valley National Park, California
This is the largest span in Death Valley, and is of a quite impressive size, as can be seen by the silhouette of the person standing in the dry stream bed beneath it. However, the utter lack of greenery and varied rock colors, not to mention water, make it more stark and barren than is usual for a natural bridge. The stream that formed the bridge is hardly ever in evidence, but when it does come through, it can be a powerful flash flood.
The Little City of Rocks
South Central Idaho
There were no major arches here
in this interesting place, which gets
few visitors; but there were many
odd and bizarre rock formations
plus a few small arches and windows
like the one seen on the right here.
Natural Bridge of Texas --
New Braunfels, Texas
This was once the opening to a cave, then part of the roof of the cave behind the opening collapsed, leaving this nice thin bridge. The cave still exists, and can be toured.
Bridge of Virginia --
of Roanoke VA
This is the largest span in the eastern states. It is on land first scouted out by George Washington when he was a young surveyor, and then was later purchased by Thomas Jefferson for about $2.50, who built a lodge there. It is now a state park, and as you can see by the broad sidewalk going under it, it has been overdeveloped for the sake of tourists, who supposedly come to see Nature, not sidewalks. Yes, it's nice that it is accessible to all now, but true Nature simply isn't accessible to all and never has been. For the benefit of a few (and to make money) it has been ruined for the majority, which is a fault of many state parks all over the country -- they destroy exactly what they are supposed to protect, by setting up restrooms, guardrails, garbage cans, picnic tables, snack bars, gift stores -- all in plain sight of the monuments they are supposed to be preserving. When Nature is thus tamed and humanized, it loses much of its power to awe and inspire. When will the parks ever learn? Leave it like God designed it!!
The worst crime here is that, believe it or not, a state highway runs right over the top of this bridge! Yes, a 2-lane blacktop highway, complete with thousands of cars and rumbling transport trucks roaring over it every day, is right behind those trees on top! It was a cheap way to get a road across the valley, but how can that possibly be healthy for the structure of the grandest span of the East, and probably the best-known natural bridge in the world?
To be fair, the development below the bridge was quite tasteful, I was semi-impressed at how well it was done. The only really intrusive thing was the sidewalk, and it at least was done with stone and gravel, not concrete; though the low wall beside it was unnecessary... if someone is tipsy enough to fall the 5 feet into the stream, let 'em fall. There are far worse examples all over the country of natural sights that have been destroyed by "improvements", the pretty little Natural Bridge of Wyoming being one of the most execrable. In fact, the whole National Park system was started a century ago to avoid this overbuilding, in part because of the absolute disaster surrounding Niagara Falls, with its disgusting commercial and industrial development on all sides -- a great sight forever ruined by man, even that long ago (it got worse: several revolving restaurant towers peer right over the edge now). What a national park that would have made! It was sacrificed, but because of it, at least we learned, sort of. The National Park Service was formed so no more of our country's great features would be destroyed by commercialism like Niagara was. So when the great sights of the West were discovered, they were protected by this newly formed Park Service before they could be wrecked forever.
The Natural Bridge of Virginia is not in a National Park, but it is very well worth seeing. Like I said, they overdid the improvements, but at least they did a good job of overdoing it. But that highway on top!! No! It's got to go!!
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