Arches of San Juan County, New Mexico

IMG_5304In this time of social distancing, Tom and I are fortunate enough to live in a place where there is a lot of open space. We’ve been getting our exercise by arch hunting. It feels good to get out and hike, just us and our dog. We decided it was time to share some of the photos of arches we’ve found.

We’ve been hunting arches on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) public land. The roads we’ve been using are oil field roads and range from poor to bad to worse. You don’t travel very fast on those roads so there is plenty of time to look around and determine where we want to start hiking.

More than 400 natural arches have been documented in San Juan County, New Mexico. A natural arch is defined by the Natural Arch and Bridge Society as “a rock exposure that has a hole completely through it formed by the natural, selective removal of rock, leaving a relatively intact frame.”

We started with a brochure ( from the Aztec New Mexico website  showing several “arch tours” with photos of arches, directions, and coordinates. Since then, we’ve moved on to hunt for additional arch sites listed on the website. We’ve also found numerous other arches in our hiking around – many quite small.

Basically, we’ve been out wandering around looking for holes in rocks. There is an added dimension to the hunt in that it depends entirely on the angle and the light at any given time as to whether you even see the arch or not. Sometimes they are hidden in plain sight and sometimes we are sure we’ve spotted another one and it turns out to be an illusion created by light on rock. Mother Nature loves to be a bit elusive.