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Monday, October 8, 2012

Arches National Park ~ Day 2

Another beautiful day at Arches National Park....and in between hikes and taking pictures, I've had time to learn a little bit about what makes this area so colorful and unique.

The rocks are red due to the iron in the rocks oxidizing. Obviously the vast majority of rocks are red, but I've also been amazed at all the other colors mixed in. White is created by water removing the iron, or another bleaching chemical reaction occurring. Black and purple are created by iron oxide and manganese oxide interacting with water and bacteria. Green rocks occur in oxygen-poor areas, like underwater, where the iron is chemically reduced.

The amazing rock formations are created when solid blocks of sandstone get cracks in them. Water enters the cracks, making them bigger, and as the edges continue to erode away you're left with fins, or narrow, freestanding slabs of sandstone. The softer interior layers then erode first, leaving an arch.

We spent most of the morning hiking to and exploring the area near Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

Inside Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch
There hasn't been an abundance of wildlife to see, but there's been some neat sightings. On our drive from Salt Lake City to Moab we saw two herds of pronghorn. All over the area are skittish little chipmunks, Hopi chipmunks. They're very golden in color with no black in their stripes, and they den in rock crevices:

Hopi chipmunk (Neotamias rufus)

There are also several different types of lizards. This is the most common one I've seen which I think is a desert spiny lizard:

Female desert spiny lizard (Sceloporus magister)
 Here's one in front of a petroglyph - how many people get a chance to get this shot?

Lizard with petroglpyh

Here are so more petroglpyhs: a couple horseback riders, some big-horned sheep, and a couple dogs:
Ute petroglyphs from 200-400 years ago

After a picnic lunch we went hiking in the Devil's Garden area. The beginning of the hike is almost like a slot canyon:

Entrance to the Devil's Garden trail

We walked as far as the Landscape Arch, the longest arch in the park at nearly 300 feet.

Landscape Arch

We also saw Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch here, but the lighting just wasn't any good for photos, being partially in the shade and partially in the sun. 

But there were plenty more spectacular views....

1 comment:

Nan said...

I love your shot of "Landscape Arch"'s a beauty. Isn't it amazing how each vista in Arches NP lends itself to a gasp from the viewer!?