Utah - Arches National Park

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Rock And Fog I

A plea of caution before you step off into this desert wonderland: the desert soil is very fragile. In some spots you will be walking on deep, soft sand; these sandy patches may be the result of wind gathering the sand into one spot, but they may also be the result of too much human interference. Where the sand is not loose, a crust of symbiotic micro-organisms (cyanobacteria, moss, and fungus) holds the desert together, preventing the sand from overwhelming the plants in the area and collecting moisture. This cryptobiotic crust is fragile, and takes decades to recover from a single footstep - stay on the paths and off of the crust. If you are for some reason not on a path (or cannot find it), travel in the washes or on the slickrock.

The park is on a plateau above the city of Moab, and your first introduction to the park is a winding road leading up the side of the canyon.  The Great Wall - a towering series of red Entrada slickrock sandstone walls - imposes itself over your car as you begin the drive.