Layered Geology–Mesa Arch and Canyonlands

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

We’ve just returned from another amazing adventure exploring areas of the American Southwest. This time our adventure compass led us to southeastern Utah, a place that piqued our interest when we bypassed the area on our trip to the southwestern part of the state a couple of years ago.

Here is one of Utah’s most famous natural arches, but (perhaps surprisingly) it is not located in Arches National Park. It is located instead in another nearby national park: Canyonlands. What makes it so special isn’t its size so much as the natural frame it provides for the geologically layered canyon below.

Most people flock to Mesa Arch in the pre-dawn dark to capture it as the sun peaks above the horizon and through the arch. I decided to flip custom on its head and photograph it at sunset instead; I wasn’t disappointed. A few broken clouds nearby did mute the scene a little, but there was enough sun to fire up the tops of the tallest structures in the canyon. Next time I return to Canyonlands, I will hopefully be floating on a raft, looking up at Mesa Arch from the canyon below.

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