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Arches National Park is a national park in the U.S. state of Utah. Here, visitors can explore the park’s red, arid desert and over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Though the park boasts many unusual rock formations, such as fins, pinnacles, spires, and balanced rocks, the most famous of these formations is Delicate Arch.
The rustic town of Moab provides a great starting point for an Arches adventure. From there, its only 5 miles to the park. Though the park is far from major airports, it’s easily seen by car. A 40-mile round-trip paved road leads visitors to all the major sights and hiking trails.
A fascinating geological history created the formations at Arches. That’s because the park lies atop an underground salt bed.
Over 300 million years ago, sea flowed into the region and settled over the Colorado Plateau. The water eventually evaporated, leaving just salt. Then, over millions of years, residues from floods, winds and oceans covered the salt. This top debris compressed into rock. In fact, at one time, this overlying earth may have been one mile thick.
Left alone, this region would be a salt bed covered in a layer of rock. However, salt under pressure is unstable. The salt bed was no match for the weight of this thick cover of rock. Because of this immense pressure, the salt shifted, buckled, liquefied, and repositioned itself. In the process, the salt thrust layers of stone upward into domes. Whole sections fell into cavities. In places land turned almost on edge.
Except for isolated remnants, the major formations in the park are the salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone and the buff-colored Navajo Sandstone.
Photographers travel to Arches National Park to photograph the park’s incredible geology. Some of the most famous formations to photograph here include Delicate Arch at sunset, Double Arch in the Windows Section, Landscape Arch, Balanced Rock, and Skyline Arch.