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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Little-Known Little Arch In Red Cliffs Reserve

Red Cliffs Reserve Arch
Red Cliffs Reserve Arch 2
Red Cliffs Reserve Arch 3
Utah is famous for its natural arches - gravity-defying spans of stone that arc above a gapping void where rock has eroded away.

I find them fascinating. They are always beautiful and I enjoy hunting them down.

I was a bit surprised when I stumbled upon the little-know beauty shown the photos that illustrate this blog. It is located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, near St George, in a region where there aren't many arches.

Arches National Park has the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. There are also a few well-known arches scattered through Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase, Glen Canyon and the San Rafael Swell. But Southwestern Utah has only a few, including massive Kolob Arch in Zion Park. Kolob Arch was long thought to be the largest arch in the world, until careful measurements showed it is slightly smaller than delicate Landscape Arch.

The Red Cliffs Reserve includes an area south of I-15, east of St George. It is protected because it contains critical habitat for the desert tortoise and other species.

The arch is located in an area of sand and sandstone, east of what is called the Babylon Road (east of the town of Leeds). A primitive camping area has been designated up against the red rock. From the camping area a trail drops south down to the Virgin River. The trail cuts between sandstone fins and other features.

If you follow that trail you will go right under the arch. The trail is obvious and easy to follow. It involves some mild scrambling. It is only about 1/2 mile to the arch.

This is a great area for winter hikes. It's also popular for riding horses. Access road is sandy. You need a high clearance vehicle to drive close to the campground. Depending on conditions, you may need a 4X4 to get right up to the campground.

I took these photos in mid-January and conditions were great for hiking. Summer temperatures get very hot.

Sheriff 's deputies patrol the area occasionally. They come in on horseback - that's the most efficient means of locomotion in the sand and rock.

It's a fun spot worth exploring.

- Dave


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