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Arches National Park


Utah

The park in a nutshell

The forces of nature have acted in concert to create the landscape of Arches, which contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. Throughout the park, rock layers reveal millions of years of deposition, erosion and other geologic events. These layers continue to shape life in Arches today, as their erosion influences elemental features like soil chemistry and where water flows when it rains. Arches is located in a "high desert," with elevations ranging from 4,085 to 5,653 feet above sea level. The climate is one of very hot summers, cold winters and very little rainfall. Even on a daily basis, temperatures may fluctuate as much as 50 degrees. The plants and animals in Arches have many adaptations that enable them to survive these conditions. Some species are found only in this area. The diversity of organisms reflects the variety of available habitat, which includes lush riparian areas, ephemeral pools, dry arroyos, mixed grasslands and large expanses of bare rock.


Visitor Center Located only ca. 100 yards behind the entrance of the park. From here the road winds through the park and many of the highlights can be seen from the car. But for Delicate Arch you have to walk 30-60 minutes. Same with Landscape Arch. But both are worth it.  Visitors who come during spring or in fall will enjoy the snow covered La Sal Mountains which can be seen in the distance from the higher elevations of the park.

Cryptobiotic Soil Crust is the bumpy layer that grows on top of the sand at Arches. “Cryptos” are a very important part of the desert ecosystem. Cryptos hold sand grains together (preventing erosion), absorb water, give seeds a place to grow, and provide nutrients for plants (they fix nitrogen). Cryptobiotic crust is very fragile. One footstep may destroy it. Since it lives everywhere, it is important to stay on trails and not “bust the crust” while at Arches. Cryptobiotic crust grows in places throughout the world.

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Document Information
Source: National Park Service / photos: magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20100214
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