Sunset Light at Arches National Park

April 30, 2024

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Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

One of the best times to visit the scenic Windows Section at the heart of Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah, is at sunset. That is when the evening glow can further accentuate the reds in the red-rock sandstone cliffs, fins and monoliths there, including the twin North Window and South Window arches (also known as “the Spectacles,” for obvious reasons), as illustrated in the first image here, taken on April 3, 2024. The east-facing panorama was captured just as the sun was about to slip over the horizon in the other direction — which is what is happening in a second photograph, taken by looking the other way (west) from a nearby spot, where the descending sun is peeking through silhouetted Turret Arch, which also features two “windows.”

Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 such arches, which have formed mostly in Jurassic-era sandstone, deposited as sand dunes in a vast desert more than 150 million years ago, according to the National Park Service. Buried by yet more layers, and lithified, the sedimentary rocks have been shaped (and still are) by the forces of erosion. Rainwater soaks into the porous Entrada sandstone, gradually dissolving the calcite that binds the fine, spherical grains of sand together. Then, cold winter temperatures and moisture further expand, freeze and fracture the rock, helping to create southern Utah’s magnificent arches.

Arches National Park Coordinates: 38.7331, -109.5925

Related Links:
National Park Service video -- Geology of Arches
The Scenic La Sal Mountains 
Lithified Sand Dunes in Zion National Park