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Friday, July 31, 2015

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Nothing Like It


Arches National Park.  July 31, 2015:   Geologists say Arches lies over a gigantic bed of salt left by an ocean that flowed in some 300-million years ago, eventually evaporating.  In the ensuing years debris from wind, flood and other transient oceans compressed into a rock mantle over the salt.  The weight of the rock caused the salt bed to shift..pushing the rock up into domes that inevitably collapsed.  Faults deep in the Earth added to the process, causing cracks in the rocks that, with time, wind and other natural forces, led to the arches we go out to see today.  
  
   Bizarre.  

   Beautiful.







   The park road winds from the entrance near Moab, Utah through an area encompassing nearly 120 square miles of mountain desert.  It runs past massive red sandstone structures, many larger than city buildings.  There are over 2,000 natural arches in them, some as small as 3 feet in diameter.  The largest, Landscape Arch, measures 306 feet from base to base.  Most of the largest are accessible from the two lane roadway.

   The surrounding structures come in all sizes and shapes.  Probably the most easily recognized is "The Balanced Rock."




   I call this one "The Sphinx":



   So what would YOU call it?


   Notice the band of different colored stone running horizontally through the structure..caused by layering as the sandstone built up.  You see this throughout the park.


   If you come here, remember it's high desert, around 5,000 feet above sea level. In the summertime, it's hot.  Temperatures during our visit were in the 90s and often run up from there.  You don't go out without water--the Park Service will warn you repeatedly to drink plenty, and even furnishes a place at the Visitor's Center to refill your bottles.  Dehydration is your enemy.  


   There are rest rooms at some of the overlooks, but no other accommodations in the park unless you're camping.  You have to reserve a spot for that--and you should inquire about it months in advance.


   But this is something you really ought to see.  As the song says, "rise and look about you."





   Amazing.



    A place for dreamers.

Arches.

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JS.  7/31/2015