Double Arch, Arches National Park

Stephen Moehle, Shutterstock

Arches National Park formation wins 'Utah Arch Challenge,' but it may not be the one you think

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 7, 2021 at 5:06 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 7, 2021 at 4:40 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has an arch champion.

Double Arch received 65% of the vote in the final round to knock off state license plate and general tourism marketing darling Delicate Arch in the finals to win the Utah Geological Survey's "Utah Arch Challenge," the agency announced Tuesday.

State geologists launched the Utah Arch Challenge last month as a way to highlight 64 of the thousands of arch and natural bridge rock formations within Utah. In the end, the final round pitted a pair of Arches National Park favorites against each other.

Mark Milligan, a geologist for the Utah Geological Survey, said he was somewhat surprised by the end result. In many ways, it could have been the tournament's Cinderella story, especially when it was paired up with Delicate Arch in the finals.

"I wouldn't have picked it as the winner but I can see why it won," he said. "I like some of the smaller, lesser-known arches just because they're a little lesser-known and more unusual."

The contest drew in a few thousand votes altogether over the past few weeks. The full Utah Arch Challenge bracket results can be found here.

Milligan said that he hoped the contest will inspire people to go and visit the featured arches.

"Get and explore Utah. We live in a beautiful state, there are just all kinds of crazy stuff. The big arches in Arches National Park and the bridges at National Bridges National Monument," he said, also adding Industrial Arch in North Salt Lake that allows people to view downtown Salt Lake City through it. "There's stuff everywhere."

Get to know Double Arch

Double Arch, like the many other arches found in the region, is a part of the Entrada Sandstone formation.

The 2021 arch winner is pretty impressive in many ways. As its name indicates, it features two arching spans. At 112 feet tall and 144 feet long, it's the tallest and second-longest arch in Arches National Park, according to the National Park Service.

"This arch is also an example of a pothole arch: It was formed by water flowing from the top of the rock rather than against the side," added the U.S. Geological Survey.

It may not have been selected to be featured on Utah's official license plate, but Double Arch does have a bit of its own claim to fame. It had a brief cameo in the 1989 flick "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," according to The Natural Arch and Bridge Society.

"During the opening credits of the third Indiana Jones movie, a group of Boy Scouts goes under Double Arch in Arches National Park to enter a cave under the arch," the group wrote. "The arch is real but of course in reality, there is no cave there."

If you want to check out the arch in person, it's relatively easy to do so. The National Park Service points out that it is viewable from the Windows trailhead parking lot, which is located at the end of Windows Road.

The trail to the arch begins at the northern part of the parking lot and takes 15 to 30 minutes to complete. The park service says the trailhead is open year-round and all parts of the day without any reservations or activity fees but advises that the parking lot does fill up quickly. In addition, no pets are allowed on the trail.

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