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15 Most Amazing Natural Arches in the World

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Our world is full of natural beauty, from sprawling coral reefs under our seas to jagged mountain ranges towering into the skies. Among these wonders are the visual beauties of natural arches that capture the attention of millions of visitors each year.

Most of these stunning geological rock formations have been formed by the natural forces of weather and water erosion over many years. Desert sand can wear away rocks, acid rain chemically weakens rocks, making them more likely to crack, and water settling in rock cracks can freeze and thaw, leading to fractured rock sections eventually breaking off.

It’s estimated that the world holds around 30,000 natural arches, about 400 of those spanning at least 50 meters. But we only have time to cover a small handful of them! So, in this article, we’ll cover the most amazing natural arches you’ll want to pop on the to-do list.

Best Natural Arches in the World

1. Rainbow Bridge, Utah

Rainbow Bridge and skyline in Utah
Alysta / Adobe Stock

Rainbow Bridge, Utah, is one of the most impressive natural arches. It’s the largest natural arch in the world! Considered sacred for Indigenous tribes that call the area home, it’s a true beauty.

Rainbow Bridge is a U.S. National Monument, but the Navajo Nation owns part of the land. You can access Rainbow Bridge by boat, backpacking, or a 3-mile round trip trail with a trailhead easily accessible by car.

There is no fee to enter the National Monument or to hike the public trail to view Rainbow Bridge. If you decide to get there by boat, an admission fee through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is required, as well as a permit from the Navajo tribe if you’re backpacking.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Utah & Things To Do

2. Elephant Trunk Hill, China

Elephant Trunk Hill and Skyline in China
XuSong / Adobe Stock

It would be a crying shame not to mention Elephant Trunk Hill in our list of top-tier natural arches worldwide. Located in Guilin, China, this unique landscape arch gives the look of an elephant and a bright full moon from the water from a distance.

Hire a local guide to travel through the arch by boat, creating a truly unique experience. Elephant Trunk Hill is accompanied by other beautiful attractions like the illuminated Reed Flute Cave, a Ming Dynast Mansion, and unbeatable views of Guilin from atop Elephant Hill’s Peak.

3. Durdle Door, U.K.

Durdle Door ocean view and skyline in Dorset, United Kingdom
Tommy Lee Walker / Adobe Stock

Unlike many other natural arches, Durdle Door in the United Kingdom is privately owned. Located on the Jurassic Coast, near Lulworth in Dorset, its name refers to its appearance of being drilled out from the rock.

The trail to access the beach can sometimes be steep and slippery, so you might prefer keeping your comfy walking shoes on to get down instead of flimsy flip-flops. Take extra precautions if you dip in one of the two sheltered bays here. No lifeguards are on duty, and rip tides and strong currents are prevalent here.

Durdle door is free to visit, but parking fees apply if you drive in. All-day parking (up until 9 p.m.) costs $15, and you can expect to pay just shy of $8 for up to 4 hours. You can use the JustPark app to pay or use the pay-on-arrival machine with your card.

See Related: Best Things to Do in England & Places to Visit

4. Delicate Arch, Utah

Delicate Arch and skyline in Utah
Gang / Adobe Stock

The Delicate Arch is located in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, and is a popular tourist attraction. It’s a freestanding natural arch made of Entrada Sandstone and stands 65 feet tall.

To view the Delicate Arch, you can use the primary trail, which is about 2.5 miles long and takes you through steep terrain and slick rock. Or, a shorter trail is entirely uphill on the way there.

An America the Beautiful pass is required as it is in a National Park. Guided tours of the bridges, including the Delicate Arch, are also available.

5. Arco Naturale, Capri, Italy

Arco Naturale in Capri island, Italy
IgorZh / Adobe Stock

Located off the island of Capri, Italy, this natural arch is considered the remains of a collapsed cavern. Its sheer bulk makes it undeniably unique.

Many arches are delicate and slender if they are above the waterline, but not Arco Naturale! With rocky points jutting out of the top of it, it looks like someone bore a hole right through the mountainside of the island.

Accessing the arch involves a reasonably short walk from the Villa Jovis, down Via Tiberio and Via Matermània. Paved local restaurants are nearby, offering Capri-inspired cuisine at prices as impressive as the view you get from your table.

See Related: Day Trip to Capri

6. Hvítserkur, Iceland

Hvítserkur and skyline in Iceland
Roxana / Adobe Stock

Hvítserkur (the Troll of Northwest Iceland) is a basalt rock protruding from the sea at 15 m tall. Local folklore depicts Hvítserkur as an old troll once filled with an undying determination to rip down the Þingeyraklaustur convent bells. Filled with rage, Hvítserkur failed to notice the rising sun and fell to a petrified fate for eternity.

Of course, the scientific background involves many years of sea erosion in today’s basalt rock crafting. The name Hvítserkur means “white shirt”. There is no admission to see Hvítserkur, but it does require a lengthy drive down a rugged terrain to get a glimpse of this formation.

See Related: An Arctic Traveler’s Guide to the Best Time to Visit Iceland

7. Étretat, France

Aerial view of Étretat, France
PUNTOSTUDIOFOTO Lda / Adobe Stock

Famous for its cliffs, Etretat, France, has three unique arches. However, the most widely visited and known natural arch is called the “Manneporte.”

Featured in a painting by Claude Monet, Manneporte juts out into the sea from the end of its supporting cliff. The other two arches, Porte d’Aval and Porte d’Amont, can be seen from Etretat.

It’s easy to hike along the cliffs of Etretat, made even easier by the sophistication of the accompanying resorts. Manneporte is also accessible by boat, though the waters around the cliffs can be choppy and dangerous at times.

8. North Window, Utah

North Window and the view of Turret Arch in Arches National Park, Utah
Bill45 / Adobe Stock

The North Window is one of several natural rock arches on a looping trail in Arches National Park. The trailhead is easily accessible and unrestricted. Get that Instagram-perfect shot standing underneath this colossal rock arch, with spectacular panoramic beauty surrounding you.

Expect to spend around three hours to visit the North Window. If visiting on a particularly hot day, visit as early as possible to beat the mid-day heat for the Delicate Arch hike.

See Related: Where to Stay in Utah to Visit National Parks: Best Areas

 9. Pont d’Arc, France

Pont d'Arc in Ardèche River, France
Adrian / Adobe Stock

Stretching over the Ardeche River of the Rhone-Alpes is another beauty of a natural arch, Pont d’Arc, in the South of France. Standing as a dramatic entrance to the gorges de l’ardeche, Pont d’Arc towers 50 m high and 60 m wide.

The arch is a popular tourist attraction with two small river beaches on either side. Visitors can enjoy lounging around with lush greenery surrounding them or head into the water for a bit of a paddle or explore via kayak.

Set your sights around Vallon Pont d’Arc to visit the area. Four-star Rives d’Arc is just over 3km away from the arch. The hotel provides convenient access to the Ardeche River for idyllic summers, where you can explore the arch and its surroundings by day and then enjoy the lively and welcoming town by night.

10. Natural Bridges State Beach, California

Natural Bridges State Park Beach
Olga / Adobe Stock

Natural Bridges State Beach is not too far from Santa Cruz. A pass to access the beach costs a fee, but in return, you get access to many great activities that are fun for the whole family.

There is a guided tour around the tide pools, a picnic area, and a visitors’ station, to name a few. So many graceful Monarch butterflies often surround the natural arch that the area has been listed as a Monarch Preserve! The arch is a monolith, jutting out from the ocean; a trip here is the perfect day trip for everyone!

See Related: Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California

11. El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

El Arco de Cabo San Lucas and skyline in Mexico
jerzy / Adobe Stock

When visiting Mexico, you’ll want to visit the white-washed beaches of El Arco de Cabo in San Lucas. These beaches feature a must-see, iconic landscape arch. You’ll see the incredible rock formations and enjoy the area’s top-tier snorkeling and scuba diving activities.

El Arco juts out from the land, stretching out the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. Commercial sunset cruises are readily available to experience the majesty of this unique vista. At low tide, it is a wonderful experience to step off the boat at Lover’s Beach and enjoy the area.

12. Perce Rock, Canada

Perce Rock and skyline in Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, Canada
mbruxelle / Adobe Stock

Perce Rock is one of the largest arches immersed in water in Quebec. Many describe seeing Perce Rock as a ship getting ready to set sail.

Made from limestone, it also acts as a nature preserve for many local birds that call the Perce area home. It weighs nearly 5 million tons and juts majestically out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

One of the great activities accompanying a trip out to see Perce Rock is climbing up the lighthouses and getting pictures of the fantastic countryside. During low tide, getting out and exploring the area for a few hours is possible.

 13. Ear of the Wind Arch, Arizona

Old tree and the  view of Ear of the Wind Arch in Arizona
Martina / Adobe Stock

Ear of the Wind Arch is one of the best examples of a pothole arch in Monument Valley. However, it is also one of the more difficult arches to get to, given its remote location in Central Monument Valley, away from the self-guided loop drive. So, you’ll need a Navajo guide to visit.

This natural wonder stands 40 m tall and was created from chemical weathering over the years. Seeing it in the off-season is one of the best times to see it. On your trek, watch out for desert wildlife that might be sunning themselves.

14. London Bridge, Australia

Panoramic view of London Bridge and the ocean in Australia
maytheevoran / Adobe Stock

Located in Port Campbell National Park, the London Bridge Arch is a miniature example of what Perce Rock is for Canada. Unfortunately, the double-arch natural bridge collapsed in 1990.

But the area is still stunning and most definitely worth a visit. Several arch-view paths are easy to hike within the park, though the primary path does have a bit of a drop at the end.

Take a scenic drive along the Great Ocean Road during your visit for one of the best drives you’ve ever had! I picked up my hire car from Melbourne Airport and made it straight for Torquay, which marks the beginning of this epic road trip.

I stretched out my drive to three days, although two is plenty to visit most of the area’s beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and the London Arch!

15. Azure Window, Malta

Azure Window and skyline on Gozo Island, Malta
mRGB / Adobe Stock

This beautiful land bridge in Malta rounds out this list of impressive natural arches of the world. A natural bridge formed thousands of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed. The Azure Window is a favorite location for filmmakers.

If you want to catch snippets of this iconic spot, look for it in famous shows like Game of Thrones or the 1981 film Clash of the Titans! The table-like design of this natural arch makes it unique in its structure, while the area’s geography is breathtaking. The scenic area is perfect for scuba diving, swimming, and boating.

Because of the nature of the limestone and its exposure erosion, many experts believe it will no longer be an arch within a few years. A partial collapse in 2012 is pointed as evidence of this.

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  1. Adrian Hedley says:

    Unfortunately the Azure Window has collapsed on March 8th 2017 after a powerful storm. It is totally gone, not just the top part. Still can’t believe it myself. its been a great loss.

  2. Eric says:

    I do not see why Vallon Pont d’Arc is rated so low. I personally know it to be more impressive than several placed higher in this ranking.
    Regards
    Eric

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