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In 1923 Alexander Ringhoffer, a prospector, wrote the Rio Grande Western Railroad in an effort to publicize the area and gain support for creating a national park. Ringhoffer led railroad executives interested in attracting more rail passengers into the formations; they were impressed, and the campaign began. The government sent research teams to investigate and gather evidence. In 1929, President Herbert Hoover signed the legislation creating Arches National Monument, to protect the arches, spires, balanced rocks, and other sandstone formations. In 1971 Congress changed the status of Arches to a National Park, recognizing over 10,000 years of cultural history that flourished in this now famous landscape of sandstone arches and canyons.
To many, the most outstanding natural features of Arches are the park's geologic formations. Over 2,000 catalogued arches range in size from a three-foot opening (the minimum considered to be an arch), to Landscape Arch which measures 306 feet from base to base. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area.
Generally, the trees of Arches grow small and far away from each other. However, mixed stands of Pinyon pine and Utah Juniper, two trees that thrive in dry, rocky environments, can be found throughout the park. In Arches, there is more tree diversity in riparian environments where there is plenty of water. In such locales, trees such as netleaf hackberry, box elder, and Fremont's cottonwood can be found. Nine species of cacti can be found in the park, as well as many types of desert wildflowers and shrubs.
Nearly 50 species of mammals can be found in Arches National Park. Among the more commonly sighted mammals are mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, desert cottontail rabbit, and kangaroo rat. Other large mammals, such as the mountain lion, are present but rarely spotted.
Local weather conditions and forecasts are available by phone at (801) 524-5133.
== Precautions Before You Visit==
'''Stay on the path:''' Throughout the park and the Southwestern national parks, you will see warnings about
'''Leave your dog at home:'''
'''Leave only your footprints, take only photographs:''' Do not take rocks or any other type of
* '''Salt Lake City International Airport''' [http://www.slcairport.com/] in [[Salt Lake City]], about a 4 hour drive away by way of Interstate 15 and US Highway 6/191.
* '''Walker Field''' in [[Grand Junction]], approximately 2 hours from the park.
* '''Denver International Airport''' [http://flydenver.com] in [[Denver]], about 5 hours 45 minutes via Interstate 70.
The entrance to Arches National Park is located 5 miles north of Moab along US Highway 191.
* '''Canyonlands Tours/North American River Expeditions''', 543 N. Main, PO Box 1107, Moab, UT 84532, Ph: (800) 342-5938.
* '''Desert Highlights''', 50 East Center St., PO Box 1342, Moab, UT 84532, Ph: (800) 747-1342.
* '''NAVTEC Expeditions''', 321 N. Main St., Moab, UT 84532, Ph: (800) 833-1278.
* '''Moab Adventure Center''' [http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/trips/nationalpark/], 225 S Main Street, Moab, UT 84532, Ph: (888) 622-4097.
Park entrance fees are $10 for private vehicles and $5 for individuals on foot, bike, or motorcycle. These fees allow entrance for seven days. Alternatively, the $
Although the summer heat can make a bike a masochistic way of viewing the park, in cooler months it can be a popular option. Though there are no bike lanes and traffic can be heavy at times, biking the scenic drive is a great way to see the park. The Salt Valley and Willow Springs roads are less traveled but are more suited to mountain bikes due to washboards, deep sand and other obstacles. Bicycles are only permitted on roads: there is no single track or trail riding in the park. When biking on the main road, please use caution and ride single file on the edge of the lane.
* '''Park Avenue'''. A relatively easy one mile (one-way) trail located near the park entrance. The trail leads
* '''Double Arch'''. A 0.8 mile roundtrip leads to Double Arch, a massive joining of two arches that will be recognizable from the beginning of the movie ''Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade''. The trail is very easy and located within walking distance of the Windows.
* '''Windows'''. The North & South Windows, as well as Turret Arch, are located along an easy 1.0 mile roundtrip trail.
* '''Delicate Arch'''. The most famous arch in the park (and perhaps in the world), Delicate Arch can be seen from a roadside turnout, from a short 0.8 mile trail, or you can take the 3.0 mile (roundtrip) trail starting from Wolfe's Ranch, gaining 480 feet of elevation, and stand underneath this natural wonder. The trail to the arch is strenuous; be sure to carry adequate water with you. Note that during peak season you are likely to be sharing the trail with many people; visiting at sunrise provides the best chance of solitude, while sunset offers the best photography.
* '''Petrified Dunes'''. An overlook of the petrified dunes lies just off of the park road between the Courthouse Towers and the Windows Area. These colorful formations are ancient sand dunes, hardened into stone as additional layers built up on top of them and were later eroded away.
* '''Fiery Furnace'''. The Fiery Furnace area is accessible only on ranger-led tours, which can be reserved at the visitor center. The tour leads through a maze of sandstone fins, showcasing one of the most interesting geologic areas in the park. A fee is charged for this tour and tours often sell out quickly, so trips should be booked as early as possible. Reservations can be made up to a week in advance at the visitor's center, or for the full season at the park's website.
* '''Devil's Garden Trail'''. Devil's Garden is a series of sandstone fissures that are home to Landscape Arch (the park's largest), Double O Arch, and numerous others. A series of trails lead to the arches, with Landscape Arch only a 1.6 mile roundtrip from the trailhead, while Double O Arch is a more strenuous 4.2 mile roundtrip. Sadly, Wall Arch, once one of the most photographed arches in the park, is no more, having collapsed in August 2008.
* '''Hiking'''. The park offers numerous short trails (see above) ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.
* '''Photography'''. The park is a photographer's paradise with reddish brown rocks, distant snow-covered mountains, and fantastic rock formations. As with most places, light can be harsh during the day, so it is best to have the camera ready during the early morning hours and late evening hours. Delicate Arch and the Windows are best photographed at sunset, while the light on Landscape Arch and Double Arch is best near sunrise. Hike to Delicate Arch. The entire arch glows blood red at sunset with the mountains framed within Delicate Arch if you are lucky. The mountains will glow if you wait long enough.
* '''Rock climbing'''. Climbing is not allowed on most features named on USGS maps, but is allowed on other formations.
There is a cooperating association sales outlet in the visitor center that offers books, maps, postcards, posters, and a variety of other educational and interpretive items. For a larger selection, the town of Moab has everything necessary to satisfy your shopping needs.
Summer temperatures can reach or exceed 110°F (43°C), so it is important to carry (and consume) enough liquid to keep you hydrated. One gallon of water per person per day is recommended. When hiking on open rocky areas, be aware that lightning is a danger during storms. Also, the dry sandstone-dominated terrain is susceptible to flash floods during thunderstorms. The most intense thunderstorms occur from July through September, during monsoon season.
* [[Canyonlands National Park]]