Arches National Park Warnings and Dangers

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Most Recent Warnings and Dangers in Arches National Park

  • sim1's Profile Photo

    Stay on the trails!

    by sim1 Updated Feb 26, 2005

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    Delicate Arch at sunset



    When you visit Arches National Park they do ask one thing from you, and that is if you would please stay on the trails. What may seem like a tiny detour from the trail, may be a serious damage to the fragile environment of the park.

    Much of the area here is covered by 'cryptobiotic soil crust'. This crust is easily damaged by walking over it, especially when it is dry and brittle. Damaging this crust will cause erosion. It will take years and years for these areas recover, and sadly sometimes they never will. So keep Arches National Park beautiful as it is, and stay on the trails :-)

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    • Desert
    • National/State Park
    • Photography

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  • Etoile2B's Profile Photo

    Desert Temperatures

    by Etoile2B Written Feb 9, 2005
    Arches National Park

    Be prepared for extremes of temperature when visiting Arches National Park. In the summertime the heat is extreme and the sun intense. In the winter temperatures drop and snow falls. During the summer you’ll be hard pressed to find shade in this part of the desert. Arches National Park attracts all types of adventure seekers. Just make sure you drink plenty of water and carry maps with you when hiking, camping or climbing. If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain don’t stray from the marked trails or go with a guide. If you get lost and caught out in the desert sun there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself from exposure. Know your limits, carry proper equipment and provisions, have a plan and be careful. But most of all have fun. If you’re a thrill seeker looking for adventure Arches National Park is the place for you.

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    • Desert
    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Easty's Profile Photo

    Winding Mountain Road

    by Easty Written Jun 15, 2004

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    The road going into Arches National Park from US Route 191 is very steep and winding for the first 3 miles. The road has no guardrails either. The person who drives this part of the road should be experienced.

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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Park Rules You Must Follow

    by KimberlyAnn Written May 2, 2004

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    1. No parking is allowed along the roadsides, so park only in designated parking lots. If the parking lot is full, you must return at a later time. This is strictly enforced. 2. Wood gathering is not allowed anywhere in the park, so bring your own stoves or fuel for the grills in the campgrounds. 3. Carry out all trash, including small items such as cigarette butts. 4. No hunting or firearms are allowed in the park. 5. Mountain bikes are only allowed on established roads, not on trails. 6. Pets are allowed only on park roads, in parking lots, or at your campsite, and must be on a leash or other restraint at all times. They are not allowed on any of the trails. Don’t forget that leaving a pet in a hot car while you go off exploring can cause heat exhaustion and death.

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  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo

    Hiking Rules and Warnings

    by KimberlyAnn Written May 2, 2004

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    Navajo Arch

    1. Always carry water on hikes. In the summer it is recommended that you carry at least a gallon a day per person, remember dehydration and heat can prove fatal. 2. Stay on trails to protect the fragile desert soils, Cryptobiotic Crust, and plant life. 3. Sandstone slickrock crumbles easily and can make climbing dangerous. 4. Rock climbing is permitted in the park, but not on most features named on the USGS maps, so for more information on where you may climb check at the visitor center. Technical rescues are expensive and dangerous, so always so remember that it is easier to climb up than it is to climb down. 5. Overnight backcountry backpackers must get a permit at the visitor center. You must carry all your water, and not campfires are allowed.

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  • caffeine_induced78's Profile Photo

    Stay on the trail

    by caffeine_induced78 Updated Feb 28, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    the unseen helper

    It's not a danger to you - it's a danger to the environment of Arches. You can almost never see it but it's all over the place. Despite the warnings on signs in several languages I still could see footprints in the soil all over the place away from the trail. Is it really worth getting that perfect picture at the expense of the health of a National treasure? I am talking about cryptobiotic crust - a combination of lichen, fungi, and algae that makes a powdery crust over much of the Colorado Plateau. One step can kill years worth of growth that helps hold moisture, reduces erosion, and provides nutrients for the ecosystem here. So please - stay on the marked trails.

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  • Don't Bust The Crust!!!

    by CoAir13 Written Feb 25, 2004

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    Cryptobiotic Soil

    If you visit this part of Utah, you will, no doubt, hear a lot about cryptobiotic soil.....crypto, for short. While walking through the desert, you will notice clumps of brown/black crust, almost like dried up moss. This is actually mosses, soil lichens, algae, fungi, and bacteria that is very much alive and important to the desert environment. It not only holds the ground together, preventing erosion, it acts like a fertilizer for plants. It is essential that you stay on marked trails while visiting parks in the desert. Trampling the crypto damages an entire ecosystem!!

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    • Hiking and Walking

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  • Prepare

    by CoAir13 Written Feb 23, 2004

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    Sandy Trail

    If you are planning on doing some of the longer hikes, be prepared for terrain changes. There's slickrock, sand, rocky trails, and grassland. Wear good shoes. Carry plenty of water, it can get hot very quickly. Stick to the trails so you don't contribute to eroding landscapes. Watch for snakes!!

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    • Desert

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Arches is a Desert

    by mrclay2000 Written Jan 10, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    at Delicate Arch

    The climate here is generally hot and dry. Mosquitoes can be a problem especially wherever you find the occasional brook. Some hikes like that to Delicate Arch require some unexpected climbing and some difficult terrain like slickrock where traction can sometimes be a problem. Bring plenty of water, know your limitations, and let the strongest member carry your camera and picnic basket. Most of all -- enjoy your time.

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  • mrclay2000's Profile Photo

    Flash Floods

    by mrclay2000 Written Dec 23, 2002

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    Delicate Arch

    Park signs warn of flash floods that arise so suddenly in the desert. Though such fatalities are more common to the other parks in southern Utah, the topography at Arches provides the same conditions where flash floods can be a serious problem. Light showers and even the briefest of sprinkles can set off a mudslide depending on where you are.

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  • Ischyros's Profile Photo

    Heat Stroke and Dehydration

    by Ischyros Written Oct 16, 2002

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    The biggest dangers here are heat stroke and dehydration. Many people fail to realize that this is a desert region with little rainfall. The only steady source of water in Arches is the Colorado River along the southern boundry, but it's not fit to drink. Take plenty of drinking water and don't overexert yourself. There is very little shade here too.

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  • Pavlik_NL's Profile Photo

    Do not go from the trail to...

    by Pavlik_NL Written Oct 15, 2002

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    Do not go from the trail to far or try to find a new way through the labyrinth of The Finns. This maze is so big and confusing that you very easily get lost or get trapped in a dead end. There have been people lost before and found by the rangers too late!

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  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Obey the Warning Signs

    by Basaic Written Jan 13, 2012

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    As always, you should obey all warning signs. They are there to for your safety and to protect the park, its wildlife, and its plants. Avoid hiking alone on the more desolate trails.

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    High and Hot

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Feb 13, 2009

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    Be sure to hydrate well and know your limits. Arches NP is in a very hot dry desert climate and also at a relatively high elevation. Take this into account and scale back your expectations.

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Comments (1)

  • Apr 13, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Warning for people with a tremendous fear of heights and falling: Arches is panic-stricken torture for people terrified of heights-or at least the ascent and descent into it is...

    This isn't a review to discourage people from going to Arches, but my experience led me to believe it isn't for everyone. Seriously; consider the needs of those with an irrational fear of heights and falling. I detail my experience below:

    For those of you who have never been to Arches before, please be advised that the ascent into the actual park is quite terrifying. Upon paying the park entrance fee at the little hut, you drive towards certain death everso slowly, winding back and forth up a sheer rock cliff face tens of stories high. In my opinion, the ascent was a horrible experience and no amount of money in the world could make me do it again. The road itself is extremely narrow and does not have guardrails. Please, if you are afraid of heights choose someone fearless yet sane to drive, and be prepared to be on total mental lockdown for a few minutes while you make it to the arches. I was so afraid I tell people I had my eyes closed times three: 1. my eyelids; 2. the Arches National Monument park map covering my eyes; and 3. my hand over the park map over my closed eyes. I was squatting down almost to the floorboards of the car seatbelted into my seat.

    I am deathly afraid of heights and have never been more afraid in my entire life than I was at Arches; I had an easier time on the Steel Eel at the Sea World in Texas than on this ascent.I have flown several times in my life (and would fly again), eaten at the Skies restaurant at the Hyatt in Kansas City a few times, and viewed Boston at the Prudential SkyWalk. In fact, dealing with the steep Rocky Mountain National Forest roads mentally for me in a rainshower was a piece of cake than compared to my experience at Arches. Also, I was so incredibly excited to see the Grand Canyon I even sat 5 feet from its edge for a photo opp, if that gives you any indication on how fear-instilling Arches really was for me...What I am trying to say is that I have been forced to deal with heights before, but this ascent caused me to react very negatively.

    I would suggest allowing plenty of daylight to enter and exit Arches; I could not imagine doing it at night (there were still hundreds of people there at sundown). I was so happy to reach solid, continuous ground that I vowed to never leave it again.

    For equally beautiful sightseeing (without the terrifying entrance or exit), I would suggest Canyonlands. If you have a 4wd vehicle you may take your vehicle on the trails. We left our 4wd adventure at Canyonlands to make it to Arches in time, and we soon regretted that decision.

    On another note, we weren't nearly as impressed with Arches as we were with Monument Valley. Monument Valley was a very easy, relaxed drive and the formations were incredible. That is my husband's most favorite place in the world now. :).

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Apr 16, 2013 at 3:55 AM

      Very sorry you had a negative experience at Arches but honestly, yours is only the 2nd complaint I've EVER heard about the drive in/out the park. My husband does not like heights at all and he's had NO problem either driving in or driving out - and we've done it probably 6 times both during daylight and after dark. We've done places in the west that were much, much worse than this one, trust me.

      So, just for the benefit other others wishing to visit the Arches, while it obviously bothered the previous poster, I've never, ever read the same from any of the other millions of visitors to this park so please don't let one review deter you. If you have any concerns, please post the question in the VT Arches forum for more input from our members.

      forum.virtualtourist.com/Arc...


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