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Collapse of "Wall Arch" Proves Gravity Does Work at Arches National Park


Wall Arch is no more at Arches National Park after giving in to gravity earlier this week. NPS photos.

One minute it was there, the next it was gone.

The collapse of "Wall Arch" at Arches National Park proves once again that gravity does work, even though you might wonder after gazing at the "rockitecture" of this dazzling Utah park.

Wall Arch, long a key attraction along the park's Devils Garden Trail, collapsed sometime overnight August 4. And since rock has continued to peel off of the collapsed arch, officials have been forced to temporarily close the popular trail just beyond Landscape Arch.

On Thursday representatives from both the National Park Service Geologic Resources Division and the Utah Geological Survey visited the site and noted obvious stress fractures in the remaining formation. Rock debris has completely blocked this section of the trail. The closure will remain in effect until visitor safety issues can be resolved.

First reported and named by Lewis T. McKinney in 1948, Wall Arch was a free-standing arch in the Slickrock member of the Entrada sandstone. The opening beneath the span was 71-feet wide and 33-1/2 feet high. It ranked 12th in size among the over 2,000 known arches in the park.

All arches are but temporary features and all will eventually succumb to the forces of gravity and erosion. While the geologic forces that created the arches are still very much underway, in human terms it’s rare to observe such dramatic changes.

No one has reported observing the arch collapse and there were no visitor injuries.


We did a Southwest trip in 2006 when our youngest daughter graduated from High School (it was her pick!)We hit Arches NP in June with 100 degree temps, staying in the Devil's Campground. The Devil's Garden was one of my favorite hikes of that summer trip which included Bryce, The North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde (their Centennial). It is sad that it's gone and one has to wonder how many beautiful arches disappeared long before people "found" this spot!?

It's a bit off the the side, but pretty close to the road. I didn't take this picture.

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And don't forget park concessionaires, folks like Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Delaware North, ARAMARK, and Forever Resorts, just to name four. They often hire seasonally. You can find them by Googling them.

Thank you for this Webpage. I love to hear all about our National Parks.
I am 69 and retired. I would like to be permitted to work seasonally in the National Parks. Tell me if one of the readers can tell me how I can go about being recrueted to work part time in one of our great national parks, suck as Arches, Mesa Verde, etc.
God Bless Aerica. We mhave had so much and appreciated little.

We were in the Canyonlands this week and we saw a couple pose for a picture at the top of this bridge. The mom was holding twin toddlers!!!!! There is nothing below that bridge but air and the bottom of the canyon. I was amazed at the stupidity of such a move!

I hiked through Wall Arch in 2001. I stopped under each arch I visited and looked up wondering when that split second would happen. I missed it by about eight years.

I hiked to a lot of the arches, and I never saw anybody on top of any of them. But people are, as a general rule, stupid. "Because it's there" mentality will always overcome good judgement.

The one thing missing from Arches is a sign at the entrance to the park. How am I supposed to get my motorcycle poser shot with no sign?

Could somebody mention something to them for me? Thanks.

I have pictures of my daughter and I under this arch, from july '07, before the falling of it. I'm so glad we were able to see Wall arch before this happened. It was a really cool arch. Arches N.P. is an awesome place to go. Words just just can't discribe the awesome views and just the feeling of hiking to these arches to get up close and personal with them. I can't wait to go again.

@ anon: Your pic shows Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP and there it is legal to walk over it. It might not be smart, but it is legal. Only Arches NP it is forbidden to climb or walk over any named rock formation including the arches.

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