Capturing the Canyons: Arches National Park
One of the most iconic sights in the United States is Delicate Arch, a huge arch suspended across a vast sandstone desert face. Delicate Arch is just one of over 2,000 arches within Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah. Arches National Park was established in 1971, after first being designated a National Monument in 1929.
The area has, for thousands of years, been populated, abandoned, and re-populated. First, ancient hunter-gatherer peoples were in the area, as evidenced by tools found in the area as well as ancient wall drawings. Ancient Puebloan peoples lived in the area for a time before moving to other locations in the Southwest. Nomadic Ute and Paiute tribes moved into the area and met the first European explorers in the late 1700s. The first European peoples to come into the area were Spanish explorers, charting courses to California. The Old Spanish Trail is still visible by Arches National Park Visitors Center today. By the late 1800s, traders and settlers had established a small settlement in the late 1800s where Moab is today.
Once pictures and stories of the vast desert landscape and the otherworldly features and formations of the Arches area reached the press in other parts of the country in the early 1900s, tourists began making their way to experience this unique and beautiful landscape for themselves. In the past few decades, thousands of people flood into the park every year, to hike, photograph, and otherwise explore the wonders of this gorgeous National Park.
Fast facts about Arches
Year established as a National Park: 1971
Visitors in 2015: 1,399,247
Size: 119 square miles
Longest natural arch: Landscape Arch – at over 300 feet long, it’s the longest natural arch in North America!
How many arches in the park: over 2000!
Fun fact #1: The Olympic torch was carried through Arches National Park on February 4, 2002, on its way to the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
Fun fact #2: In the middle of the night in 2008, Wall Arch came crashing down. No one was there to witness the event, but the next day hikers found that it had collapsed overnight.
Learn more about Arches National Park at the National Park Service website!
Learn more about the Capturing the Canyons: Artists in the National Parks exhibition!