June 9-11th, 2023
Arches National Park is a modest sized park with huge popularity. This has led to crowds! The number of visitors has grown steadily and now the park gets over 1.8 million visitors a year.
To help with parking and to keep the experience enjoyable, Arches has instituted a timed entry system during the busiest parts of the day. You register with recreation.gov to get a pass. We booked one pass months before we were going to be there, but were able to snag another one while we were there, so as long as you are flexible with the day and time you want to show up, you can get in. You can also get in if you show up before 7am or after 4pm.
Sixty five million years ago, the area was a dry seabed that was probably uninteresting. Geologic changes then forced the buried rock up, pushing sandstone thousands of feet in the air. Wind and water then did their thing, eroding softer parts of the rock and creating fins, walls, windows and yes, arches.
According to the ranger we met in the park, an arch is different from a bridge. While they look very similar, an arch is created when the stone in the middle is cracked by ice and whipped away by wind, while a bridge is created by water dragging out the softer rock in the middle. There is some disagreement on this online, but I’ll go with the ranger.
There are other beautiful rock formations in the park. Below you will see examples of a hoodoo, a fin or a wall, and another arch.
On the hoodoo you can see where the softer rock in the middle was blown away leaving a large piece of harder rock balanced on top. These are so cool!