Mesa Arch is located in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park and is one of the park’s most popular attractions. Spanning 27 feet wide, Mesa Arch is a pothole arch that was created 20 million years ago as water pooled and gradually eroded away the bedrock at the edge of the cliff. Even with Arches National Park only a half-hour away, Mesa Arch is still worth visiting, especially if you can catch it when the sun is rising. We highly recommend checking out Mesa Arch when you take a trip to Canyonlands.
Mesa Arch is located only a short hike away from the district’s Scenic Drive. It takes about 10 minutes to hike out to the arch and another 10 to complete the loop and hike back. It’s one of the most photographed arches in the world, especially during sunrise when shutterbugs camp out to catch the dawn light appearing from the bottom of the arch.
Arches like these are typically formed either by weather or by water erosion. Water-eroded arches like Mesa Arch take millions of years to form as the water gradually loosens and sweeps away tiny amounts of sediment from the rock. The Mesa Arch isn’t even the most dramatic example of water erosion in Canyonlands, however. The canyons themselves were formed as the Colorado and Green Rivers carved away the rock over millions and millions of years. Even the Grand Canyon was formed the same way!
To make sure you’re finding all the best spots when you take your next trip to Canyonlands, consider trying out our Canyonlands National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour, available through the Action Tour Guide app on both iOS and Android devices. The tour will take you to Mesa Arch, Shafer Canyon, the Upheaval Dome, and all the other points of interest in the Island in the Sky.