Wooden Shoe Arch

Sandstone formation on the road to the Needles District in the southeast corner of Canyonlands National Park

Wooden Shoe Arch, visible on the horizon, has been here for thousands of years. But the rock it’s made of is much older.

During the Pennsylvanian age (300 million years ago) this area was inundated by an inland sea. As the water evaporated, it left behind a great salt basin into which many layers of sediments were deposited. Here red sediments from the mountains to the east intermixed with white coastal deposits. These sediments were later transformed into the red and white sandstone of the Cedar Mesa formation upon which you are now standing.

The buried salt, which flows under pressure and is dissolved by ground water, shifted under the sandstone, causing it to fracture. Weathering along the fractures carved Wooden Shoe Arch, and the other arches, spires, knobs, and fins visible today.

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