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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.


Just because there is a rule that says you can't do something it doesn't stop the people trying to. If you think you can't walk over an arch take a look at this.

Tried to report it but they were long gone.

You can look at them, but you can't WALK OVER any of them!!

Fortunately it fell naturally, not due to some idiot, like that artist who set fire under one of them.

I was there on Nov 3rd 2006. Have a great photo, different angle but same pine tree background. This fell almost 2 years later. The Old man in the Mountain in White Mtns NH, Franconia Notch fell 24 months after my visit in May 2001. It fell in May 2003. In Yosemite's Curry Village a large granite slab sheared off above Curry Village about two years after my first visit and again recently also two years after my last visit. Wierd how 3 places I've been have fallen after I see them.

A few folks asked about climbing on arches above...

There is certainly not a blanket law against climbing on all the arches in Arches NP. My family and I went canyoneering with a guide in the Fiery Furnace with full permission of the NPS and we climbed over and then rappelled off of an arch in there. Also, people (myself included) very routinely climb on top of Double O arch near the end of the Devil's Garden trail. I'm very conscientious about not walking on the cryptobiotic soil and obeying "stay on trail" signs and did not see any signs nor trample any sensitive areas when my son and I scrambled up onto Double O from the backside.

That said, it is not permitted to climb Landscape or Delicate arches.

Hey, folks - call and write today to stop the oil lease fire-sale outside Arches and Canyonlands! Call the BLM office in Moab at 435 259 2100. You have until 12/4 to express your outrage.

We just returned from a Utah vacation, which included a trip to Wall Arch. We originally saw it in 2006 and never gave any thought to it collapsing in our lifetimes. Surprising that other seemingly more fragile arches are still standing, and this one fell. A reminder that you can’t always tell the substance of things or people by looking on the outside.

I just got back from a cross country road trip where we stopped at Arches. We were there about a week before the Wall Arch collapsed. I was blown away when I heard it collapsed because I, like many of you are probably thinking, "I was just there and it looked fine!" What's really scary to me is the fact that I took some pictures sitting under the arch and for those of you into geology, 2 weeks is like a fraction of a second in geology time. Just to think that I could have collapsed when I was there...

What else is very interesting is the size of the Wall Arch compared to others like Landscape. Wall Arch looked so much thicker at the top compared to Landscape. Landscape is so long and thin, I would have though that would have collapsed years, if not decades before Wall.

I was there just a few weeks ago. I feel immensely privileged to have been one of the last people to view Wall Arch. It all seems so majestic and immovable when you are there, strange to think that just a few weeks later (a heartbeat in geological time) it's gone.

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