Visiting Natural Arches of the American Southwest

Nothing says the “American Southwest” quite like a natural stone arch. These wondrous outdoor rock sculptures, souvenirs from millions of years of desert erosion, are the highlight of any Utah adventure – and have the advantage of fitting colorfully into a camera frame.

Writer Edward Abbey stoked the craving for stone arches in his seminal work from the 1960s, Desert Solitaire. Abbey was working as a ranger in the then Arches National Monument, and on a busy day, would see a handful of visitors. Today millions come each year to marvel at Abbey’s red rock fantasy land that contains more than 2,000 stone arches – the greatest concentration of natural arches on the planet.

At Four Season Guides, we have built an entire tour around the splendors of Arches National Park that kickstarts our lodge-based Moab Hiking Adventure. In the park we make the slickrock hike to Delicate Arch that is the poster child for many a Utah travel publication, and also visit Landscape Arch in Devil’s Garden. Landscape Arch in Devil’s Garden is the longest rock span in North America, with a light opening the distance of a football field.

mesa arch utah

Mesa Arch

The five-day natural arch extravaganza also includes trips to Corona and Bowtie Arches, as well as a hike through the 400-foot high walls of the Negro Bill Canyon (note: it’s now officially named Grandstaff Canyon) to see the 263-foot Morning Glory Bridge that is the world’s sixth longest free-standing arch. The Moab Hiking Adventure also dips into the legendary sandstone formations of the Canyonlands in both the Needles District and the Island in the Sky District, with its iconic Mesa Arch perched on the precipice of a 500-foot cliff.

We descend deeper into this desert paradise with our five-day Canyonlands Backpacking Tour where the word “maze” only begins to describe the proliferation of spires and natural arches in the Needles District. The Canyonlands is home to more than four dozen natural arches, and the one we make a detour to see is Angel Arch – with an impressive opening of 120 feet by 135 feet.

natural arches in Utah and people

Four Season Guides, a guide owned and operated company located in Flagstaff, Arizona

Stone arches also highlight our classic four-day Utah backpacking trip through Coyote Gulch in the Escalante Region. The massive Stevens Arch, with a span of 225 feet and standing 160 feet tall, is one of the largest natural arches in the Southwest. At only 50-feet the Coyote Natural Bridge is dwarfed by many of its famous neighbors, but the formation makes up in charm what it lacks in size, and serves as an ideal campsite on the trip. When you worship the natural stone arches as we do, the Jacob Hamblin Arch is a favorite destination, as it forms a rock cathedral in the Coyote Gulch.

To visit these arches with a professional guiding company who will take care of all the details from permits to dining, contact Four Season Guides at 1-877-272-5032 or visit the website at today!

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