Natural arches are always a sight to behold. These natural bridges are a visual wonder of our amusing planet, whether small or large. Spread out worldwide. They draw millions of visitors every year.
Natural bridges are rock formations with openings underneath mainly due to erosion. It could be a landscape arch or primarily water formed.
Show Table of Contents
- Best Natural Arches in the World
- 1. Rainbow Bridge, Utah
- 2. Elephant Trunk Hill, China
- 3. Durdle Door, U.K.
- 4. Delicate Arch, Utah
- 5. Arco Naturale, Capri, Italy
- 6. Hvítserkur, Iceland
- 7. Étretat, France
- 8. North Window, Utah
- 9. Pont d’Arc, France
- 10. Natural Bridges State Beach, California
- 11. El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- 12. Perce Rock, Canada
- 13. Ear of the Wind Arch, Arizona
- 14. London Arch, Australia
- 15. Azure Window, Malta
Best Natural Arches in the World
1. Rainbow Bridge, Utah
The most impressive natural arch has to be Rainbow Bridge in Utah. It is the largest natural bridge in the world, and its location is considered sacred for the local American Native tribes that call the area home.
It is in 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, and a permit from the Navajo tribe if you’re backpacking.
You can also catch natural arches in Arches National Park in Utah: the Sipapu Natural Bridge, Morning Glory Natural Bridge, Kolob Arch, and Stevens Arch.
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2. Elephant Trunk Hill, China
It is impossible not to mention China’s Elephant Trunk Hill with its impressive features. This 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, allowing for a truly unique experience. An accompanying park on the hill offers Ming Dynasty architecture, peaceful surroundings, and a monastery. Admission is currently CNY 75.
3. Durdle Door, U.K.
This rock arch sits on a small isthmus that protects a sandy beach. Swimming is highly recommended in the waters, though the trail to access the beach can sometimes be steep and slippery.
Admission fees come in the way of parking fees at the car lot. The current fee schedule is as follows: 2 hours is £3, 4 hours is £4, 6 hours £5, over 6 hours is £7.50, or a weekly ticket is £15. The facilities are open from March 1 thru October 31.
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4. Delicate Arch, Utah
You can use the primary trail, which is about 2.5 miles long and takes you through steep terrain and Slickrock. There is also a shorter trail that is entirely uphill on the way there, letting you get a long-distance view of the Delicate Arch.
A Federal Land Pass is required as it is in a National Park. Individual passes are $5 each and are good for seven days, though many people take advantage of the $10 per vehicle rate.
Guided tours of the bridges, including the Delicate Arch, are also available. For an extended stay in the area, take advantage of the $25 “Local Passport,” which gives you entry to Moab’s four incredible parks. Like what you are hearing? Check out these best things to do in Moab, Utah, to make the most of your visit.
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5. Arco Naturale, Capri, Italy
Located off the island of Capri, this natural arch is considered the remains of a collapsed cavern. The sheer bulk of it is what makes it 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.
To access the arch, it is just a 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.
6. Hvítserkur, Iceland
Once the volcano’s plug, this large chunk of volcanic rock juts 50 feet out of the water. Located within the tidal basin itself, many have equated the sight of this natural bridge with a stone monster rising out of the sea.
The name Hvítserkur, meaning “white shirt,” is deceptive in size. It is smaller than the images you see of it. 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.
7. Étretat, France
Known for its cliffs, there are three unique arches featured in Etretat. 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 the village.
It’s an easy hike to go out along the cliffs of Etretat, made even easier by the level of sophistication that the accompanying resorts bring. Manneporte is accessible by boat as well, though the waters around the cliffs can be choppy and dangerous at times.
8. North Window, Utah
The North Window is an incredibly massive natural arch on a looping trail in Arches National Park, including several other natural rock arches. The trailhead is easily accessible; you can access this arch without restriction. A popular activity is for visitors to take pictures of themselves inside this arch because the panoramas are spectacular!
Plan for about 2 to 3 hours for your visit to the North Window area and a hot day. You’ll want to visit this arch first because you’ll want cooler weather for the Delicate Arch hike.
9. Pont d’Arc, France
Another incredible land bridge is the Pont d’Arc. It’s located in a popular kayaking and canoeing area popularly described as the entrance to the Ardeche Canyon.
At 60 meters wide and nearly the same length, it is a dominating feature in the South of France… so much so that it is listed as a Great Site of France. The beach is the perfect launching point to paddle underneath the arch and leisurely explore the canyon.
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10. Natural Bridges State Beach, California
Natural Bridges State Beach is a day-use area located near Santa Cruz. A fee is required for the pass to access the beach, 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. Monarch butterflies often surround the natural arch, and 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!
11. El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
If you decide to visit Mexico, you’ll want to visit the white-washed beaches of El Arco de Cabo in San Lucas. You get to see the incredible rock formations and enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling activities in the area.
Commercial sunset cruises are readily available to experience the majesty of this unique vista on your own. At low tide, it is a wonderful time to step off the boat at Lover’s Beach and enjoy the area… until the tide starts coming back in!
12. Perce Rock, Canada
Located in Quebec, Perce Rock is one of the largest arches immersed in water. 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 is estimated to weigh nearly 5 million tons. It 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 amazing countryside. During low tide, it is possible to get out and explore the area for a few hours if you wish. Just watch out for the garnets!
13. Ear of the Wind Arch, Arizona
Ear of the Wind Arch is one of the best examples of a pot-hole arch in the United States. It is also one of the more difficult arches in this list to see – located in Central Monument Valley; it is south of the self-guided tours.
Going in the off-season is probably one of the best times to see this arch. Watch out for desert wildlife that you might see sunning themselves on your trek to see this arch.
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14. London Arch, Australia
Located in Port Campbell National Park, the London Arch is like a miniature example of what Perce Rock is for Canada. Unfortunately, the double arch natural bridge collapsed in 1990.
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!
15. Azure Window, Malta
This beautiful land bridge in Malta rounds out this list of impressive natural arches. Originally formed thousands of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed, the Azure Window is a favorite location of filmmakers, featured in dozens of movies and shows.
The table-like design of this natural arch makes it unique in its structure, while the area’s geography is breathtaking. The area is perfectly suitable 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.
Other breathtaking natural bridges from around the world are the snake bridge arch in New Mexico, the Aloba Arch in the Sahara Desert, and Shipton’s Arch in China. There are thousands of arches in the world. These are just but a few.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.