Moab will be our jumping off place for both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Even before you get to Moab from the south, there is an Arch at the side of the road called Wilson's Arch. Well worth stopping and seeing.
After lunch, we went over to Arches NP and started with their visitor center. We had been to Arches about 15 or so years ago with both our boys on an RV trip to Colorado. On that trip, we didn't really have much time to explore the park and really saw very little of it. This time we will correct that! After the visitor center, we decided to drive into the park for a bit just to "get the feel of it.".
There are many roadside viewpoints and this is one called "Park Avenue." From the right perspective, a look down this canyon gives you the feeling of being surrounded by tall buildings.
Arches are formed because the sandstone is actually sitting over a salt dome. As the weight of the rock pushes down, salt domes are formed underneath. The rock on either side of the salt dome falls away leaving a thin wall of rock, geologically called a "fin." In time, the center of these fins will crack because of the freezing of water inside the rock and over a couple of thousand years or so, the center will drop out creating an arch. Several thousand (nobody knows for sure) more years and the arch will collapse.
Sometimes when the arches fall or the fins separate, it leaves a "hodoo" like formation. As these crack from freezing water, parts fall away leaving some very interesting results. The rock above is very precariously balanced. If you draw an imaginary line up from the center of the shelf where it sits, you can see that half the mass is on one side, and half on the other. Once some cracking takes place, the whole top part will fall down. Could happen in a thousand years, could happen tonight (except the forecast is not for freezing temps). No one can really predict.
We couldn't verify the name of the above rock formation. From a distance, Carol thought it looked like the fist of God, so that is now it's name. The interesting thing is that if you move around to the side or rear of a formation, you get an entirely different mental picture!
This formation looks real interesting to me. Looks like a leader on the left with three followers! On many of the fins and other rocks, you can see the beginning of arches forming. Whether they make it all the way to an full arch, or become something else, or just fall down over time, you really can't predict. (and who among us is going to wait the thousand years or so to see the result?)
These are two arches that I was able to zoom in on to get in the picture. In actuality, the arches here were at least 2 miles away. Carol calls these the "eyeglasses" arches and the name seems appropriate to me.
There are various layers of different kinds of stone in the park. Some are more easily eroded than others and the results are some interesting formations.
Tomorrow we may visit Canyonlands NP for the day. It is about 30 miles or so from here. We plan to stay here until at least Saturday so that will allow for another day at Arches and possibly a day for golf, weather permitting. Right now the wind is still going strong so I'd rather wait until it isn't blowing so hard. The high temps for the next few days is right at 70, so that should be nice!
We've seen a lot of different kinds of rock formations on this trip so far. From the Hodoos of Bryce to the Cliffs at Zion to the red rock monoliths in St. George, Sedona and Valley of Gods and into the depths of the Grand Canyon to the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde and now the Arches. All different formations and coloring made up of the same kinds of rocks, yet all so amazingly different. I think the Creator really had a ball designing all these different manifestations of rocks for us to enjoy. If you've seen one rock, you haven't, by any means, seen them all!