The Arches of Arches… Finally!

While every arch in Arches National Park shares a ‘see through look’, each arch is unique in the space created and in the surrounding rocks. One of my favorites is Turret Arch, shown here in a photo by Peggy.

“But where are the arches?” my brother-in-law John asked Peggy about my series on Arches National Park. “There is more to Arches than arches,” Peggy had responded. John readily agreed but there was still a plaintive ‘where are the arches’ tone to his voice. This post is for you, John— and for all of our other followers who have been wondering about how anyone could do a series on Arches National Park without arches.

They aren’t hard to find. There are over 2000 in the park, the highest concentration of any place in the world. Of course you would need a month to find them all plus put in a lot of miles hiking. We only had a day and the 100 degree F heat (37.7 C) discouraged much roaming in the time we had. Not to worry. The road plus a little walking took us to some of the most famous in the Park. So without further ado, I’ll start with the arch I featured at the top of the post, Turret Arch, named for its resemblance to turrets on castles.

This was my view of Turret Arch. The turret rises above the arch on the left.
This shot facing the arch provides a view of a smaller arch forming to the left. The dad and child seen through the arch give perspective. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Here, Peggy captures the yin and the yang of the smaller arch.
We were fortunate that impressive clouds added depth and interest to our photos.
I couldn’t resist using the arch as a dark frame for the clouds.

A walk up to the Turret Arch easily includes two of the Park’s other Arches, North and South Windows.

This is the view of North and South Window Arches from Turret Arch. I won’t hold it against you if you see two eyes and a large nose instead of windows. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I took a close up.
A view of the South Window Arch with the nose looking a lot more like a massive rock!
The North Window Arch is more popular with an easy trail leading right to it from the parking lot. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This photo by Peggy gives an idea of how massive the arch is. Note the person enjoying the shade! Also, check out the large crack, a reminder that these arches do come tumbling down.
My shot looking up shows how thick the arch is. You can see the beginning of the crack.
Which Peggy caught.
We both had fun using the clouds as a backdrop. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
My contribution.
And finally, I thought a black and white rendition of the North Window Arch would be interesting.
The famous Double Arch is just down the hill from the Windows and Turret Arches. New arches can be seen forming on the right.
You have undoubtedly seen photos of this Arch even if you haven’t visited the Park. Or perhaps you caught it at the beginning of the Indiana Jones’ movie “The Last Crusade.”
While we have hiked down to and around the Double Arch in the past, I took this photo from our air-conditioned van!

No trip to Arches is complete without a trip to see the Delicate Arch, which many consider to be the National Park’s most scenic arch. Rather than make the gentle three mile round trip at 3 P.M. when we were both hot and tired, we took an alternative one mile trip straight up a steep slope for an overlook. Hmmm.

Peggy’s telephoto worked best for capturing Delicate Arch.
I’ll conclude my post today with this shot of a towering cumulous cloud and tiny people making their way to the arch. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

NEXT POST: As we drove out of Arches, I took several photos from our van that will serve as a closure to this series.

44 thoughts on “The Arches of Arches… Finally!

  1. There is a saying; ‘I have dropped my arches’, but I think that has something to do with feet. I don’t know how one can suddenly experience the dropping of arches.
    I prefer your journey through the arches very much.

  2. Curt, I am enthralled by these arches . Especially the first two of the Turret Arch with the sky being highlighted within. And or, enhancing the rocks.

    All of those pictures are stunning but the first two had me call and book an airline ticket. ( kidding). I wish though.

    So thank you for the beauty and for sharing.

    Miriam

    • Turret Arch was my favorite because of the overall effect of the rock formation and arch. Well, the clouds helped, too. 🙂
      Laughing about the airline ticket. I always enjoy the sharing aspect of the posts. Not only because it lets us share our adventures but also because it lets us relive them. Thanks, Miriam. –Curt

  3. Well, that triggered a happy memory… remembering my mom’s visit (back sometime in the early 80s. I have a picture somewhere of my mom posing by the window arch from that day. I also remember locking the keys in the pickup when it was getting on toward evening. Luckily there was a nice gentleman who broke into the sliding door in the back window of the cab. Back in the day before cell phones. I don’t think my mom would have enjoyed a night spent out in the “middle of nowhere”! This apple fell a goodly distance from the tree… 😉

    Thanks to both of you for the great images!

    • Laughing. I can’t imagine my mother enjoying a night under the stars either. As I recall, we wen’t on one camping trip in my youth. Your mother may have never forgiven you for locking your keys in the car. Mine would have been looking for a large rock. No lack of them at Arches. Grin. –Curt

  4. I don’t know why I’ve not noticed this before, but in many of these photos, the rock looks like fudge cooling in a pan. The delicate arch is beautiful; it is my favorite, I think. I especially like Peggy’s last photo, with the tiny people on pilgrimage, and the cloud seeming to mimic the structure of some of the rock formations.

    • Mother Nature whips up fudge every once in a while, Linda. Unfortunately, it isn’t edible. 🙂 I really liked that last photo of Peggy’s as well. Beautiful arch, tiny people and towering cloud. –Curt

  5. Hi Curt–this isn’t about your Arches photos, which are wonderful–as is Arches Nat’l lPark. I just got an email from a PC Liberia friend trying to get your permission to use your teaching materials–and give you credit for writing them. If you’re interested in giving permission, you can email Jinny Hesel (she was in my group, Group 9). Her email is vchesel@comcast.net. I apologize for the personal un-Wandering-related message! Hope all’s well with you. I long to travel (we’re not now due to Covid) and my husband and I are thinking of buying and outfitting a van for camping. When I left Liberia in 1968, my roommate and I bought a VW van and drove it around w. Africa for a couple of months–until it finally gave up the ghost in Niger. I am so enjoying YOUR travels!

    • Hi Mary. I responded to Jinny. Thanks. Wed were in the midst of leaving for our 10,000 mile trip around the US and it had slipped through the cracks. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the person she was looking for. –Curt

  6. Loved seeing all of these arches — walking into them, looking through them, sitting inside a couple to have my picture made, etc. What a grand National Park this is. So glad it’s preserved and people all over the world can visit. Would go back in a heartbeat, but would hope it wouldn’t be on a 100-degree day!

  7. Those are fabulous pictures! You say that new arches are forming. Now, I could use my internet skills and see how that happens but perhaps you have some insight. I understand them falling down but making new ones? Anyhow, it looks like a fabulous trip and I can’t believe there are 2000 arches! I wonder if anyone has ever stayed long enough to see them all.

    • Thanks. Imagine having a job to go around and count the arches. 🙂 Moab adventure has a fairly succinct answer on arch formation. Here it is: Underneath Arches National Park lies a salt bed layer, which was deposited some 300 million years ago when the area was part of an inland sea. When the sea evaporated, it left salt deposits; some areas collected over a thousand feet of these deposits. During the next millions of years, the area was filled with debris deposited from winds, floods, streams and oceans that came and went. Over time this debris compressed into rock. The weight of the rock layer caused the salt bed below to become fluid, allowing it to thrust up and create domes and ridges.

      What happened after the movement of salt molded the landscape? Erosion went to work on the surface rock layers and ground water began to dissolve the underlying salt deposits. Water seeped through cracks in the weathered rock and ice formed, further expanding the crevices and weakening the rock. Eventually, the domes began to collapse leaving a maze of vertical free-standing rock walls known as fins. Wind and water continued to assault these fins until they eventually wore through and pieces began to fall away, creating the amazing arches you see today.

  8. As always the Arches are beyond belief fantastic and photogenic! Their shapes and defying of gravity are breath taking.

    The basic combination of colors between the vibrant red earth, blue sky, green brush tones and a few white clouds floating around is magnificent.

    • The area really is a photographer/nature lover’s dream, Arati. I could hang out there for a year trying to catch all of the moods of the various seasons. Did you ever read Edward Abbey’s book “Desert Solitaire” on the time he spent there? –Curt

  9. Wow Curt- you and Peggy got some absolutely beautiful shots! Those clouds and colors! Thanks for sharing them- life swamped me, so I’m starting this series with the Arches and looking forward to seeing what Else Arches had to offer! 😁

    • I can imagine you are swamped, Anne. I can only imagine what teachers are going through now with everything so much up in the air. On top of that there is being a parent. now. Pretty hard to find time for writing and blogging. Hang in there and be safe. –Curt

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