Arches National Park


by James Rowan and Cal Petersen

Salt laden sea spray, flung into the air by the crashing waves of the shallow sea, made a hazy mist over the gleaming blue water. The only life, trilobites clinging to the bottom, were too fragile to risk the surface of the heaving azure plane. Time passed, as it always seems to, and things changed. The life became capable of breaching the water, the water that was slowly receding. Eventually the water was gone completely, leaving only a thin layer of salt. Over the millennia, the sea came and receded many times, always leaving a thin layer of salt, until the salt layer wasn’t very thin. As the sea left, the dunes came, blanketing an area almost as large as the Sahara Desert. Nothing lasts forever though, and the sea returned again. The pressure of so many tons of water had its effect on the dunes, and they were slowly compounded into a thick layer of stone, resting on top of the salt. This stone, called the Entrada Formation, was riddled with several north-west trending anticlines. As the sea retreated, it left a blasted looking plain of iron oxide stained sandstone, unremarkable red rock, to the edges of sight. Eventually, due to massive pressure, two of the anticlines collapsed. the land was tilted slightly northwest. The salt, under pressure for so long, began to flow. The pressure put on the sandstone caused vertical strata to form. the strata, with the help of rain, plants and ice, cut the stone into tall "fins". With erosional forces cutting into the bases of these fins from both sides, arches are formed very quickly, by geologic standards. The result is the highest density of natural arches in the world, an enigmatic display of our planet’s beauty.
In the beginning, these wonders of nature called arches were constructed of underground salt movement, extreme temperatures, and water & ice. With these elements the scenery of Arches National Park is a sight to see. When a person goes to see the arches at this park they are going to see a range of arches.
At Arches National Park (greatest density of natural arches in the world) there are all shorts of different shapes and sizes of arches. The smallest arch being only a three-foot opening is quite a different sight than the longest one, Landscape Arch, which is three hundred and six feet from one base to the next. The arches inside of the park also range in thickness. For instance, if you were to see a very thick arch like Turret Arch, you might not realize the difference in size(thickness) between Turret Arch and the more skinny Delicate Arch. With the balanced rocks perched atop seemingly inadequate bases, pinnacles, and towering spires, my trip to Arches National Park was one of a kind.