Worth the Trip
Located within the Tonalea chapter boundaries of Tonalea, Arizona on the Navajo reservation. It is seated next to the neighboring chapter boundaries of Kaibeto chapter.
This area is primitive, meaning it is not developed. 4×4 vehicles with a high-clearance is also suggested, as the area has sandy clay roads. Please be respectful of local residents within the area, please respect their land and cattle or sheep they may have. Riding or driving motorized vehicles (including mountain bikes) directly into these areas is prohibited, as sandstone is a fairly delicate sediment rock. If driving to a rock formation, please park at least 30-50 feet away from any unique rock or sand formations to preserve the area for future generations. Climbing any rock formation and any type of drone operation is also prohibited on the Navajo reservation.
This White Mesa Arch spans 53 feet wide and towers 84 feet. The sandstone layers of this natural arch consists of white limestone and varying strata of red, white, yellow and pink sandstone, referred to as ‘Navajo sandstone.’
The Navajo Sandstone consists of thick layers of cross-bedded sandstone formed by windblown sand dunes in a vast ancient desert. In the early Jurassic, the climate of the Colorado Plateau dried significantly, creating desert conditions over a broad region. The Navajo Sandstone is the result of the largest known sand desert in the history of our planet, which covered the area of today’s Colorado Plateau and beyond.
Diagonal patterns in the Navajo Sandstone are called cross-bedding. Cross-beds are found in modern active sand dunes, but the Navajo Sandstone preserves the history of ancient wind patterns and migrating sand dunes in this vast desert. Cross-beds dip downward in the direction the winds were blowing. 1
Various photography bloggers have shared photography tips of this arch. One is to photograph this arch during the “Strawberry” full moon in the months of June and July. Others state to photograph during the sunset and night in the months of June to August when the Milky Way aligns to appear inside the arch.
Another nearby arch (with a controversial name) is ‘Margaret Arch.’ This arch was discovered (and named) by Barry Goldwater (B. 1/2/09 – D. 5/29/98), an Arizona Senator, who went exploring in the Tonalea area in the 1950s. There is speculation of a bronze plaque was that was installed at Margaret Arch by the local chapter houses of Kaibeto or Tonalea. But to this day, no one has seen this plaque with a name dedication.
1. https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/nature/navajo.htm – Navajo Sandstone in Zion National Park and the Colorado Plateau.
From Page, Arizona
Drive south on Highway 89 until you reach the intersection with Route 160 (road to Tuba City). Drive 32.2 miles on Route 160 to the intersection with Indian Route 21 (GPS location 36.31943 N, 110.94745 W). Take paved Indian Route 21 about 14.4 miles to (36.4949 N, 111.05358 W) and turn right onto Indian Route 6260. Take Indian Route 6260 for 6.2 miles to (36.50019 N, 110.94505 W) and turn right. Stay on Indian Route 6260 for 1.7 miles to (36.47723 N, 110.93675 W) and turn right onto a good dirt road. After 1.6 miles you will reach a farm house at (36.469649 N, 110.961304 W), pass it on the left. Continue 0.5 miles to an open area and park at (36.472935 N, 110.970187 W). You will need a high clearance vehicle to drive the last two miles. The arch itself is clearly visible to the northwest. The east side of the arch can be reached via a short hike.
(Located in Monument Valley Tribal Park – Requires admission of $20 per vehicle (max. 4 ppl), and $6/additional person)