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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Arches National Park

Arches National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the U.S. Its well-known rock formations are even depicted on Utah’s license plate. The large arching rocks are a pinnacle in the landscape of the Southwest. 

Arches is also part of “The Mighty Five,” the five national parks in southern Utah that are relatively close. The proximity allows visitors to see Arches and then head to Canyonlands or Capitol Reef with a quick drive. 

Whether you’re heading to Arches for a few days or a quick stop to check it off the list of southern Utah destinations, this national park is one you don’t want to miss.

5. There Is No Exact Count for the Number of Arches

Arches National Park facts
Double Arch, which contains the highest arch in the park. (Source: Getty Images)

The number of arches in the national park is hard to count. Even the National Park Service (NPS) puts the number at an estimated 2,000 arches. Officials say new arches are constantly forming while older ones are collapsing. The arches form from erosion due to rain and then freezing temperatures, causing the rock to crack. The process takes a very long time. Most of the notable arches in the park will be there throughout our lifetimes.

4. There Are a Lot of Famous Arches, but Delicate Arch Is King

arches np facts
The famous Delicate Arch. (Source: Getty Images)

A handful of arches stake the claim as the longest or tallest, but the most well-known arch is called Delicate Arch. This is the rock formation you see on Utah’s license plate and Arches National Park memorabilia. You’ll want to see the southern span of Double Arch at 112 feet tall for the tallest arch. The longest is Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet wide. In comparison, Delicate Arch is 46 feet high and spans 60 feet across.

3. Multiple Movies Used Arches National Park as a Background

arches facts
Road tripping through southern Utah. (Source: Getty Images)

The almost alien-like landscape of Arches National Park makes the park a popular place to film movies. According to IMDB, dozens of movies were filmed at the location. This list includes Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Thelma & Louise, The Hulk (the 2003 Eric Bana version), and City Slickers 2. A recent count found Arches had the sixth-highest number of movies filmed there out of all the NPS destinations.

2. Despite Moab Being a Mountain Bike Mecca, You Won’t Find Any Trails to Ride in the Park

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Mountain bikers in nearby Moab. (Source: Getty Images)

The City of Moab is this park’s entryway. If you know anything about mountain biking, you know Moab tops the list of destinations. However, don’t expect to carve through trails on your bike in the park. Like many NPS destinations, bikes are not allowed on trails. Anyone on two wheels needs to stick to paved or gravel roads. However, that doesn’t mean you should leave your bike at home. The official NPS site quickly points out plenty of easily accessible trails outside park boundaries. Plus, you can bike from Arches to Canyonland National Park on a paved bike path for an alternative adventure.

1. Edward Abbey’s Fears in “Desert Solitare” Came True 

arches facts
Edward Abbey sitting in a desert. (Source: NPS/Jim Stiles)

Edward Abbey, a well-known writer focused on conservation, especially in the American Southwest, wrote one of his most famous books about Arches. “Desert Solitaire” focuses on the two years Abbey spent working as a park ranger in Arches. At the time, the park was a National Monument and had only a dirt road entering the park. In the book, he worries about the area’s popularity and what may come with this. Since then, the park has developed paved roads and more destinations for visitors to see. The park has seen more than 1 million visitors annually for the past decade. 

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