Arches National Park

Useful Information

Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park. Public Domain.
Location: Arches National Park, on the Colorado Plateau. 6 km north of Moab, Utah.
Open: Park: No restrictions.
Arches Visitor Center: NOV to SEP daily 9-16. OCT daily 8-17. Closed Memorial Day, 25-DEC.
Fee: Private Vehicle USD 30, Motorcycle USD 25, Per Person USD 15.
Valid seven days.
Fiery Furnace: Adults USD 6, Children (5-12) USD 3, Children (0-4) not allowed, Annual USD 15.
Fiery Furnace Ranger-led Hike: Adults USD 16, Children (5-12) USD 8, Children (0-4) not allowed.
Classification: GeologyNatural Bridge Speleologywind cave
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided. V=1,600,000/a [2018]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Edward Abbey (1968): Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, McGraw-Hill.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


Double Arch, Arches National Park. Public Domain.
10,000 BP inhabited by prehistoric people.
13th century area abandoned by Fremont people and ancestral Puebloans.
1775 area crossed by Spanish missionaries.
1855 attempt to settle in the area by the Mormon Elk Mountain Mission abandoned.
1880s ranchers, farmers, and prospectors settle in the Riverine Valley.
SEP-1923 visited by Frank A. Wadleigh, passenger traffic manager of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, and railroad photographer George L. Beam.
1925 named Arches by Frank Pinkely, superintendent of the Park Service's southwestern national monuments.
12-APR-1929 named a national monument President Herbert Hoover.
1938 enlarged by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
12-NOV-1971 redesignated as a national park by President Richard Nixon but total area enclosed reduced significantly.
MAY-2006 successful free climb on Delicate Arch by Dean Potter.
MAY-2006 park authorities responded by disallowing climbs on any named arch within the park year-round.
2008 Wall Arch collapses.
2014 Delicate Arch displayed on the third 2014 quarter.
North Window, Arches National Park, Utah. Old Mammoth Road. Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress collection. Public Domain.


Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. Public Domain.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. Public Domain.

As the name says: Arches National Park is the National Park with the arches. There are more arches in the western U.S.A. and all over the world, but here you will find numerous spectacular arches on a rather small area. Probably the highest concentration of arches you can find worldwide.

Arches are formed by wind erosion, especially in arid climates. But they are normally quite an exception, and here they are found in abundance. The reason is halo-tectonics, earth movements caused by the flowing of salt under high pressure. Below the red sandstones lies an underground evaporite layer or salt bed. The 1,000 m thick layer of salt was deposited in the Paradox Basin 300Ma ago during the end of the Permian and the beginning of the Triassic. It was covered by debris eroded from the Uncompahgre Uplift to the northeast. During the Jurassic the Navajo Sandstone was deposited on land under desert conditions. At this time the super-continent Pangaea existed and its interior was mostly arid. The salt dome lifted the sandstone in the form of flat ridges, the sandstone got parallel cracks which were the starting point for further erosion. The result are sandstone ridges which are formed by wind, sand and frost.

Probably the most interesting hike is the Fiery Furnace hike. Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow passages between towering sandstone walls. From above it looks like a series of deep parallel cuts which are connected by transverse clefts at fault zones. Its quite easy to get lost in the labyrinth and GPS does not work well because of the surrounding sandstone. You can walk on your own and there are also ranger guided hikes, but the number of permits for both is strictly limited. If you have a ticket you must check in at the visitor center at least 1 hour in advance.

Another impressive hike is Devils Garden, which is located at the end of the road. Here you have to walk because you can not see the arches from the parking lot.The full trail is 12 km long, but the Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch, and Pine Tree Arch can be seen on the first 2 km. Double O Arch, which is probably the most impressive arch here is löocated at the end of the trail.