|To get to the park from the Visitor Center you have to drive up that wall in the photo on the left. Both photos show the Moab Fault, which runs along the highway. Both sides of the highway were the same height long ago. When the fault shifted, the north side of the highway fell and the south side thrusted up leaving a 2600 foot difference. Of course, there was no highway when this took place 6 million years ago.|
|Unusual rock formations were everywhere throughout the park|
Part of the Great Wall
|The sheer walls of this narrow canyon reminded visitors of buildings lining a big city street, hence the name Park Avenue.|
|What forces offset this piece of rock and what keeps it there?|
|In the right photo are the Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, the Tower of Babel and the Organ.|
|On right are Three Gossips and Sheep Rock|
The Tower of Babel behind the Organ
The Tower of Babel
|The dots on the right photo show what the geologists think this double arch once looked like. Like living things, arches have life cycles, too. Starting as small holes in rock faces, they enlarge and eventually collapse from weathering and erosion. At the extreme left side of the photos "Baby Arch" is forming. Although not a certainty, the sharp cleavage found on Sheep Rock and the shapes of other rock faces near it are clues that an arch once connected the "sheep" to the rock mass it faces.|
A different angle on the Three Gossips
More unusual rock formations without names
|The vast area in the photos above was once covered by extensive sand dunes. Some 200 million years ago, winds from the northwest carried tons of fine grained sand into this area, creating an immense desert. Over time, the sands were covered by other layers of sediment, compressed and cemented by quartz and calcite into Navajo Sandstone. Erosion has since washed away the overlying layers, exposing the "petrified" dunes.|
|The forces of erosion are sculpting more than arches. Balanced Rock clearly shows the various layers responsible for this amazing defiance of gravity. The caprock of hard Slick Rock of the Entrada Sandstone in perched upon a pedestal of mudstone. This softer rock weathers more quickly than the resistant rock above. Eventually, the faster-eroding rock will cause the collapse of Balanced Rock.|
Throughout the park other balanced rocks, spires and pinnacles are formed as the different layers erode at different rates.
I walked the trail around Balanced Rock to take photos that show you all sides.
|The salts of the inland seas were buried by windblown and waterborne sediments over millions of years. The weight of the sediments forced the salt to flow, like a glacier, along its rock bed. Where the salt encountered a fault, it bulged upward forming a salt dome.|
The overlying rock, unable to bend, cracked along parallel lines and pulled apart, allowing water to seep into the salt layer. The salt dissolved and leached out, leaving huge open spaces. The overelying rock, now unsupported, collapsed into the cavaties creating Salt Valley.
Delicate Arch and Wolfe Ranch
Delicate Arch is at the left
|Water and time have sculpted Delicate Arch. The span's distinctive shape has inspiried such colorful nicknames as "Cowboy Chaps" and "Old Maid's Bloomers."|
At present the opening in Delicate Arch is 45 feet high and 33 feet wide. Erosion continues to wear away the features of this mature span. It is only a matter of time before the geologic and environmental forces that created the arch will destroy it. Forty-three arches in the park have collapsed since 1970.
|John Wesley Wolfe settled here in the late 1800s with his oldest son, Fred. A nagging leg injury from the Civil War prompted John to move west from Ohio, looking for a drier climate. He chose this tract of more than 100 acres along Salt Wash for its water and grassland, which would support a few cattle.|
The Wolfes built a one-room cabin, a corral and a small dam across Salt Wash. For more than a decade they lived alone on the remote ranch.
When his daughter, Flora, and her husband moved to the ranch, she convinced her father to build a larger cabin with a wood floor. That is the cabin shown in the photos. The outbuilding is a root cellar. In 1910, the family returned to Ohio and John Wolfe died on October 22. 1913 at the age of eighty-four.
Looks like a bird perched up there
Something from Star Wars
Collapsing and uplifting
|Another balanced rock|
|The Windows Section of Arches National Park was once a national monument. It was combined with Arches National Monument to form the national park.|
|On the right is North Window|
Elephants on Parade
|On the right is another view of Elephants on Parade|
Sand dune cross-bending as was seen at Red Rock NCA
A major upthrust
|Pothole Arch is an unusual horizontal opening in the rocks|