Scenic USA - Utah
Arches National Park
|Photos by Marty Straub
Marty Straub Photography
The area surrounding the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers lies at the "heart" of the Colorado Plateau Province. This geological wonder encompasses 140,000 square miles, blankets the Four Corners region, and is marked with large monoclines and laccolithic mountains. A semi-arid desert region, this rock jungle is loaded with thousands of mesas, buttes, spires, towers, natural bridges and arches. A landscape stripped of topsoil and sparsely covered in vegetation allows these dramatic, fanciful shapes to fill a 360 degree, head-swiveling view. The majority of outcroppings are composed of almost pure quartz, cemented together by iron oxide. It's these infused oxides that give the rocks their distinct earth-tone hues.
;With hundreds upon hundreds of arches just waiting to be discovered, Arches National Park is one of the favorites in the Colorado Plateau, and one of the best places to get started on your Grand Circle tour. Here in Moab, a hub for national park sightseers, Arches is just five miles from town. Also near Moab, sightseers will find three scenic byways, a state park (that would be a national park in any other location) and the largest national park in Utah.
Although 2000 natural arches give the park its name, there are more incredible sights in Arches where immense vertical fins reach skyward for hundreds of feet. Some of the most notable sandstone fins are found at Courthouse Towers and this colossal line of "skyscrapers" on Park Avenue. The Park Avenue Trail, winding through the center of this photo, connects these two scenic wonders. It's these sandstone fins that provided the well-shaped rock for the arch making process. Erosion and weathering go on to create these window designs.
Captured in these dramatic views, visitors find a myriad of gravity defying rock formations on display at Arches National Park. One of Travel Channel's top ten parks in America, the distant snow capped La Sal peaks set up the perfect ice-blue backdrop for these geological wonders.
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