Canyonlands National Park
Photos by David Brandt-Erichsen
from trips guided by Alex Ranney
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The Maze District is the most remote section of Canyonlands National Park. It is fifty miles from the nearest paved road and can only be reached via very rugged 4WD roads or long backpacks. Permits are required for overnight stay, and it is too remote to visit in one day.
Up until the 1990s there were no published lists of natural arches in The Maze. Then in 1995, Robert Vreeland published information on 14 natural arches in The Maze. Also in that year began a series of articles in SPAN based on the field work of NABS member Alex Ranney, who has cataloged more natural arches in The Maze than anyone else. Now dozens of arches are known. What follows is just a sample.
Note that a regulation adopted September 29, 2014 prohibits walking on any arch within Canyonlands National Park. These photos were taken prior to that date.
Tibbett Arch NABSQNO 12S-587173-4223650 Utah MAP
Tibbett Arch is the largest arch in the Maze District, with a span of about 100 feet. It's location is marked on the Elaterite Basin topo map about a mile south of Lizard Rock. This is one of the very few arches in The Maze that has a name. The Park Service has a policy against naming additional features in The Maze.
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-591507-4225849 Utah MAP
This 40-foot pothole arch is number 4-30 in the Vreeland catalog. It is located in a basin north of the Dolls House. The pothole arch below is just to the north in the same basin, as are several others. The Spanish Bottom topo map covers this area.
Unnamed arch NABSQNO
12S-591579-4226374 Utah MAP
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-592486-4230734
In the photo above, Alex stands atop a large pothole arch numbered 4-35 in the Vreeland catalog. It is shown as "natural arch" on the Spanish Bottom topo map, and is located north of Shot Canyon.
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-592591-4230148 Utah MAP
This giant pothole arch is located on the rim of Shot Canyon and is cataloged by Vreeland as number 4-34. Here NABS member Alex Ranney is shown pacing off its 54-foot span. The arch is shown on the 7.5 minute topo map Spanish Bottom, Utah 1988-PE, as simply "Natural Arch." This photo was featured on the cover of a special issue of SPAN in January 1995 on natural arches in the Maze.
Unnamed arches NABSQNO 12S-588714-4224742 Utah MAP
A group of four spectacular arches is found at this location on the eastern ledges of the canyon south of Standing Rock. In the foreground of the above photo is a 24-foot pothole arch, and in the background Alex is standing on a dome-shaped double arch. Beneath the dome are two openings of 30 feet and 17 feet respectively. Below is a photo from beneath the dome. The Spanish Bottom topo map covers this canyon. (Our personal name for this feature is Parachute Arch, from the shape of the dome.)
Literally a stone's throw to the west from the double arch is another striking pothole opening with a diameter of 26 feet, shown below. (Our personal name for this feature is Elevator Shaft.)
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-588658-4224754 Utah MAP
We counted a total of 16 arches in this canyon. The largest is shown below and is located on the eastern side of the canyon. We were never able to get inside the opening, but did reach the top on another trip via a completely different route.
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-588898-4223955 Utah MAP
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-587840-4223891 Utah MAP
The small arch above is in a spectacular setting on the western side of the same canyon.
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-584523-4222388 Utah MAP
The arch above and the arch below are each shown on the Elaterite Basin topo map as "natural arch". They are located close to each other in the western edge of The Fins. The arch in the photo above has a span of 70 feet.
Unnamed arch NABSQNO 12S-584642-4222393 Utah MAP
Another Maze arch on this site:
Arch 4-39 in Shot Canyon (SPAN section)