The first people came wandering through Arches some 10,000 years ago as the last of the glaciers were retreating north or scooting up mountains, seeking colder climates. The nomads were hunter-gatherers, killing wild animals for food and seeking out edible plants where they grew naturally. They must have been impressed with the magnificent rock sculptures they saw. Possibly they even gave the soaring arches, spires and fins spiritual significance. What caught their attention from a practical point of view, however, were the chert and chalcedony rocks that could be chipped into stone tools such as knives and scrapers. Left over debris piles can still be seen by those trained to look for them.
The wandering hunters and gatherers were replaced by farmers some 2,000 years ago. The Arches area was on the northern edge of the Puebloan culture, which was known for its cliff dwellings. A lack of such abodes in the area, however, suggest that Arches was more of a place to visit than occupy. About 700 years ago, the Puebloans apparently abandoned the area altogether for whatever reason they were disappearing from their homes throughout the Southwest. Drought, disease, or invasion are among the causes normally given.
When the first Europeans entered the area, they found it occupied by the Utes, a Native American tribe from which Utah took its name. It is assumed that the rock art panel shown below was created by the Utes since the Indians were riding horses and there weren’t any in North America prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors. Interestingly, a section of the Old Spanish Trail that was used by Spaniards to travel between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles in the late 1700s/early 1800s actually runs in front of the park headquarters following Highway 191.
In hopes that the arid climate of the region would be good for an old Civil War war wound, 69-year-old John Wesley Wolfe left his wife in Ohio in 1898 and settled near Delicate Arch and the Ute rock art north of the town of Moab. He brought his son with him and built a primitive cabin. There was enough space to raise a few head of cattle and vegetables. More sophisticated needs were met by shopping out of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. When his daughter, her husband, and two children arrived a few years later, she insisted that Wolfe provide more modern accommodations. He complied by building the 11 by 17 foot one room cabin that still stands today. It must have been cozy.
While the Colorado River forms the southeastern border to Arches National Park, it is the La Sal Mountains that provide a dramatic backdrop for many of the rock sculptures found in the park. Towering over 12,000 feet in height, the La Sal’s are part of the Rocky Mountain chain. I’ll conclude my series on Arches with several photos that Peggy and I took of the mountains as seen from Arches.
NEXT POSTS: Hot off the press: Peggy and I are on a two-week trip up the coast of northern Oregon and southern Washington to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Expect crashing waves, tumbling waterfalls, rainforests, a picturesque lighthouse, towering ocean rocks and quaint towns.
32 thoughts on “Rock Art, a Civil War Veteran, and Magnificent Mountains… The Arches National Park Series: Conclusion”
Wonderful pics. Such blue skies.
I know… no pollution! 🙂 –Curt
Oh yes the contrast is indeed stunning. Shiny blue and white in the distant behind grounds of brown with a dash of green
The clarity of the desert sky really helped as well, bringing the mountains closer, Suan. –Curt
Oh yes, we are pretty sure the air is clearer out there in than in the cities with all that smog
Love the dog in the petroglyph panel — timeless and sort of like a cartoon. 🙂 Happy anniversary to you both! Have a great trip!
Thanks so much, K. I really think the dog was helping to herd the Big Horn Sheep. 🙂 –Curt
Beautiful. To stand in a place which witnessed so much is rewarding enough.
Yes it is, Bojana. Thanks. –Curt
Nice post, I am always interested in how the States got their names!
Thanks, Andrew. And I didn’t realize that until I did my research for the post. –Curt
I think Bryson told the story of the names in one of his books but I forget which one!
Did you read Bryson’s book about his hike down the Appalachian Trail? It was pretty hilarious. –Curt
I think I have read most of his books Curt and I remember the Walk in the Woods. His humour seems recently to have shifted and I haven’t enjoyed his later books quite so much.
I am perpetually astounded by the beauty of this country.
Me, too, G, from east to west and south to north. We are truly blessed. –Curt
The cabin has lasted!
I’ve learned about these places before. The red rocks are beautiful like those I saw at Sedona.
Very much so, Tennyson. Sedona is another favorite area of ours. Thanks for commenting.
Thanks, D. We are celebrating it surrounded by beauty. –Curt
So much beauty, Curt. The color contrasts are amazing. I also love learning about the origins of the places I visit.
Happy anniversary to you and Peggy!
Thanks, Evelyne. We’ve been enjoying our sojourn up the north coast of Oregon. Today we move on the south coast of Washington.
This landscape is so outstanding, Curt! Seems like an excellent place for hiking. How many days would be enough to explore this area?
Arches is only the start, Agness. I’d give it at least three days. Canyonlands is next door. Also glorious with even more hiking opportunities. Driving south and then west will bring you to Capitol Reef National Park, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (assuming Trump doesn’t do away with it), Bryce National Park and Zion National Park. All of these places are treasures and they are all in Utah. I don’t know if you have wandered through this country, but each park is unique and definitely worth exploring, with plenty of hiking. Not enough? Cross the southern border of Utah into Arizona and the Grand Canyon. I’ve backpacked into it several times for some of the most incredible backpacking experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve also rafted the Colorado through the Canyon. Anoterh unforgettable experience. –Curt
Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary to you both and have a wonderful celebratory trip! 😀❤️ I can never tire of these stunning views, the mountains are the most amazing background of any photos…fantastic. Wolfe’s cabin is wonderfully atmospheric, particularly in black and white, and must have been a most welcome abode…a moving image and great that it is still standing. Happy Sunday & Exploring! 🌻
Hearts, smiley faces, and daisies! It has to be a good Sunday after that, Annika. 🙂 As always, there is so much beauty around. All we have to do is look. Thanks much. –Curt
Curt this could be a brochure piece for the park. Dave has recently retired and we very much look forward to time for road trips now. The Arches will for certain be on our list. My goodness your photos with the red stone sculptures against the backdrop fo the snow capped mountains are astounding.
The photos had the same impact on Peggy and I, Sue. 🙂 We are ready to go again! Thanks. –Curt
So glad I finally got around to catching up on some of my blog post reading. Love the Wolfe’s cabin. And I don’t know how we missed it on our trip to Arches. Enough reason to return, I suppose! Your pics are good. We had fun taking photos but mostly just standing and staring. Arches was a fascinating place.
My thoughts are any excuse to return to Arches is a good excuse, Rusha. And Peggy and I missed the river trip that you took, which is something we won’t miss this spring. And thanks. 🙂 –Curt
I love travel. And you’ve been to many places that I would love to see. Thanks for blogging and sharing.
It is always my pleasure, Rusha. Thank you. –Curt