The Arches area was first brought to the attention of the National Park Service by Frank A. Wadleigh around September 1923. The following year, additional support for the monument idea came from Laurence Gould, a University of Michigan graduate. Finally in April 1929, shortly after his inauguration, President Herbert Hoover signed a presidential proclamation creating Arches National Monument, consisting of two comparatively small, disconnected sections.
In late 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a proclamation which enlarged Arches to protect additional scenic features and permit development of facilities to promote tourism. In early 1969, just before leaving office, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation substantially enlarging Arches. Two years later, President Richard Nixon signed legislation enacted by Congress which significantly reduced the total area enclosed, but changed its status to a National Park.
The colossal monoliths, outcropping, fins, bluffs, and fallen rubble are a testament to the ever-changing landscape, and their time humble the meager 80+ years that we might be around to witness it. One can stand in front of the many iconic monuments, read their name, learn their geology, but standing there hardly allows for the comprehension of the wonders that abound in this national park.
Up high on a rock a lone individual sits in the sun, oblivious to those around him as he finds ways to connect himself to this magical setting. From where I am I can't hear him, and that's another marvelous thing about these great outdoors...there is a solitude that blankets you. Your eyes drink in an overwhelming array of sights, but somehow the body slows things down to give all the senses a chance to coordinate.
Everywhere one turns, a new and different experience. On the cloudless day that we were in the park, the palette of colors was dominated by reds, oranges, greens, and blues. Many shapes had names...Park Avenue, The Three Gossips, Sheep’s Rock, etc... and yet there were many where the imagination allowed for your own personal observations and naming. This was part of the joy of touring the park...it was reminiscent of those days as a child lying on your back looking up at the clouds and seeing many things...this was so similar.
A drive through this national park presents many opportunities to view spectacular geological formations from the roads and parking areas. In addition, many miles of hiking were available to those who want to get away from the crowds and enjoy the peace and solitude that national parks are famous for.
Our trip included a most special opportunity—a ranger-led tour through a permit-only area referred to as the Fiery Furnace. This maze of vertical fin structures is navigable by squeezing through openings, straddling fissures and openings, and scrambling and climbing over a variety of physical obstacles. This hike is not for the faint of heart, nor for those not accustomed to physical exertion. It was difficult to judge one's readiness for the hike based on the video that the Park Service has on their website, and consequently there were a couple people on our group that would probably not go on this hike again given the chance.
What was supposed to take approximately three hours took nearly double that. Yet, there was never a time when I got bored or ran out of things to look at or photograph. The payoff for being in the Fiery Furnace is a view that few see--hidden arches, panoramic glimpses, rare plants, and an abundance of twisting and turning "paths". That's the other thing...there are not really paths in the Fiery Furnace. One really needs to be with a guide or risk getting lost. What an adventure!
Arches National Park is a place I will return to again. Like so many places one visits, a couple of days often is just not enough. So it was here too. Not only were there more things to see, but being the great outdoors, there are seasonal patterns that would change the conditions and present completely different experiences.
To see my entire collection of images from Arches National Park, visit my website gallery at: http://www.costamesaphotography.com/National-Parks/Arches-Utah/