Danger at Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch-Arches National Park

One of the coolest thing about the Arch formations at Arches National Park is the accessibility.  For the most part, the trail takes you right up to, or through, the arch and allows you to really interact with the formations.  There is something incredibly cool about being able to walk right up to these giant arches and and stand in the void.  Some of my favorite shots are from directly below the arch, massive stone reaching over your head.  Of all the arches we visited in the park, Landscape Arch was the only one fenced off.

There are over 2000 known arch formations in Arches National Park, all of which are in a constant state of erosion.  Most of these are pretty stable and safe to approach, but Landscape Arch has a history.  It is one of the oldest arches in the park and longer than a football field making it the longest natural arch in the world.  One of the first major arch features found in Devil’s Garden, Landscape Arch is fenced off and there are signs warning you not to approach the formation.  In 1991, a 73 foot long slab of rock tore loose from the bottom of the arch and crashed to the hillside below while a tour group, led by a ranger, looked on.  Some managed to catch photos of the collapse and there is also video of the event.  In June of 1995 two more slabs fell from the thinnest section of Landscape Arch.

Since then, the instability of the arch has forced the park to close the trail that once passed under the arch and restrict visitor access to keep people on the main trail below.  The forces of gravity, wind and water are slowly tearing this delicate arch apart.  It’s thin, graceful structure is only 11 feet thick in places and won’t be able to support it’s own weight much longer.

Seeing this arch in person it is amazing to think that it’s still there at all.  It looks so thin from the trail that I’m amazed the rest of the structure has held since the collapse in 1991.  I am glad I got to see this arch intact because I do feel it won’t be long before I will be saying, “I remember when…”

Moderator’s Note:

Landscape Arch is found in the area known as Devil’s Garden at the north end of the park.  There are many arches clustered in this area and Landscape Arch is one of the first along the main trail at only .8 miles in from the trailhead.  Devil’s Garden lost one of it’s arches in 2008 when Wall Arch collapsed and the parks service closed Devil’s Garden to the public until it was deemed safe.

Access to the Primitive Trail at Devil’s Garden is located right at Landscape Arch.

Comments

  1. Landscape Arch is one of the sights I remember most from my trip to Arches NP, and I totally agree, while it will be very sad when nature finally destroys the arch, I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to see it in all its glory. It’s a beautiful piece of nature!

    • Great perspective Katie. I was just discussing this with Dave. I hope I can get my boys there before it’s gone. I think it’s best if I move Arches to the top of the bucket list for that reason alone!

      • Wilderness Dave says:

        You know, it’s not a huge park but I think it is a MUST visit for anyone. These natural arches are pretty rare and to find so many of them all in one place is amazing to see. I’m sure it has some cool backcountry stuff, but this is one of those parks you can pretty well cover in a couple of days and feel like you’ve seen most of the park. Not many National Parks are like that.

  2. Years ago, long before 1991, I actually walked across the top of this one. It was scary because it was so thin.

    • Wow! What a cool experience that would be.

    • Wilderness Dave says:

      I thought about that while I was out there. We didn’t walk across any arches while in the park, but my wife was spooked by the exposure just walking across some of the fins. I have walked across a few narrow rock bridges out here in Arizona and there is a little thrill that goes along with knowing there isn’t much rock between you and open air.

  3. Dave rules at taking photos!

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