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Rodeo, New Mexico
December 13, 2006
You’ll actually find two arches at Tunnel Arch, the bigger one, and a smaller one above and to the left of it. Tunnel is a young arch, meaning, a smaller hole with thicker rock around it. As erosion continues, arches enlarge until finally, the surrounding rock is so thin it collapses, and the arch is no longer. On the spur to Pine Tree Arch we met a little cottontail calmly grooming himself just next to the trail. Obviously very used to humans. Pine Tree arch has piñons growing directly underneath it; most likely the reason for its name.
Landscape Arch is possibly the world’s longest arch. Possibly? Yes… Though the NPS sign denotes Landscape’s length to be 306 feet, laser technology has more recently determined that it’s "only" 290 feet long. Zion National Park’s Kolob Arch is probably about 4 feet longer. It’s by no means certain, so the "competition" for longest arch continues…
Landscape Arch will probably lose that competition, because it’s also very old, as indicated by the thinness of its span, in some cases only 6 feet around. According to geologists, it could collapse "any time". They used to allow people right under it until a hefty chunk broke off on September 1st, 1991. A 60-foot long 180 Ton rock slab tumbled from Landscape’s right side, greatly startling tourists underneath. Luckily, no one was killed or even injured. Understandably, the trail underneath is now off-limits.
Devil’s Garden is also remarkable for its fins, massive escarpments of side-lying rock, precursors to potential new arches. At the start of the trail, fins dwarf us ant-like humans hiking alongside them.
From journal Magical Arches in the Rain
Cleveland , Ohio
September 10, 2001
Immediately after passing Landscape Arch, the trail became narrower and more rugged. Although this was not classified as a "primitive" trail, it was definitely adventuresome. After taking in Wall Arch and following another spur trail to Navajo and Partition Arches, we found ourselves walking across a rock fin that offered a spectacular panoramic view of the area. (Those who are not fond of heights may find this 50-yard section of trail a little daunting!)
Double O Arch was the last major arch along this trail. Here we found two arches stacked one atop the other. Perhaps some day the stone partition between the two arches will dissolve and only a single arch will remain. The shady side of this formation was a great place to stop and contemplate how long it would take Mother Nature to accomplish this.
The final half-mile of the trail leads to a stone monolith called the Dark Angel. We had spotted this solitary spire from the scenic road as we approached Devil’s Garden. Sitting apart from all the other formations, the Dark Angel appeared to be a geologic outcast, brooding over the fact that it was not an arch. Its base marks the end of the trail.
As we walked back to Double O Arch, we discussed the possibility of returning via the "primitive" trail through Fin Canyon. This would have offered us new scenery and an even greater adventure than we had already experienced. Since we had found the main trail to be challenging enough, we simply retraced our steps all the way to the parking lot. What an remarkable afternoon!
From journal Arches National Park - Red Rock Fantasy
September 9, 2001
The first mile of this trail is quite civilized. The path is wide, well defined and undulates gently through the desert landscape. This being one of the easiest trails in the entire Park, we walked in the company of several hikers. En route to Landscape Arch, we came to a short spur trail. This little side trip took us to views of Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches. These are both termed "young" arches, consisting of relatively small openings in massive rocks.
We returned to the main trail and continued on. Unlike most other arches in the Park, Landscape was protected from the public by rail fences. The sand dune under the arch was heavily eroded, and consequently was undergoing restoration. It was easy to see the toll that simple human footsteps had taken on the fragile desert floor. The Park Service is struggling to keep many areas of this park from being "loved to death". The view point for Landscape Arch is one of them. Go off the trail here and you may be fined!
As we stood with others snapping pictures of this 306’ span, it seemed that this was the true "Delicate Arch" of Arches National Park. Landscape is a marvel of natural engineering – the slenderest ribbon of rock extends the length of a football field against the blue sky. In contrast with Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches, Landscape is an "old arch", and appears to be in danger of falling soon. Knowing that other Arches landmarks have changed in this century, we felt lucky to have seen this amazing formation before it vanishes from the Earth.