• Balanced Rock in Arches National Park is a popular attraction due to its unique and gravity-defying formation made up of hard slick rock boulders.
  • The rock is composed of stronger rock than its surrounding area, which has eroded faster, leaving the harder rock exposed and teetering.
  • While no one knows exactly when Balanced Rock will collapse, it is certain that it will eventually happen, making it a must-see before it's too late.

Balanced Rock is one of the many remarkable and iconic rock formations of Arches National Park (it should not be confused with Balanced Rock in Colorado's stunning Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs). Balanced Rock is one of the most popular attractions in Arches and is easy to visit.

Arches National Park is famous for having the greatest concentration of natural arches in the world (although it is now known Arches doesn't have the largest natural arches in the world). It is not just the natural arches that make the park special, though. Take the time to see its other attractions such as Balanced Rock.

How Balanced Rock Formed (& Its Inevitable Fate)

Balanced Rock trail. Moab, Arches National Park
Balanced Rock trail. Moab, Arches National Park

Balanced Rock is made up of the hard slick rock boulders of the Entrada Sandstone. It is made up of stronger rock than the surrounding rock. Consequently, the surrounding rock has eroded faster, rendering the harder rock exposed and teetering today.

  • Rock Stratas: Entrada Sandstone (the harder rock) and Dewed Bridge mudstone (the softer rock)

The softer, eroding pedestal that Balanced Rock is sitting on is made up of Dewey Bridge mudstone. It is the exposure of these two rock strata layers that has proven ideal for the many arches and other rock formations in Arches.

This eroding continues relentlessly and someday the same forces of erosion that created the rock will also destroy it. At some point, its base will erode to the point that it will collapse. Foreboding the inevitable fate of Balanced Rock, a smaller sister rock (called "Chip-Off-the-Old-Block") collapsed in 1975 or 1976.

No one knows when Balanced Rock will collapse, perhaps within a year, maybe not for many hundreds of years. But it is known that it will collapse and there is no time like the present to see it before it's too late.

In the same manner, the forces of the Colorado River that have eroded the Grand Canyon's Horseshoe Bend will also erode through the canyon wall and cut off the bend. Natural monuments like these are reminders of how the environment is constantly changing and that nothing lasts forever.

Related: A Guide On Arches Best Scenic Drives (& How Long They Take)

The Size & Beauty Of Arch's Balanced Rock

A view of the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash
A view of the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Balanced Rock seems to defy gravity and is one of the most popular rock formations in Arches National Park. Sometimes the hands of erosion and time really do produce works of wonder.

  • Total Height: 128 feet or 39 meters
  • Balanced Rock Height: 55 feet or 17 meters
  • Weight: Estimated: 3,600 tons

Balanced Rock rises a total of 128 feet from the base (including the pedestal), while the balanced rock, itself, measures 55 feet. It is the largest rock of its kind in Arches National Park.

Even those who haven't been to Arches may recognize it from the beginning of the 1989 movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Utah is famous for its unearthly landscapes, and it has five national parks, the third most in the United States after Alaska and California. Each of these national parks is worth visiting (Zion National Park is the most popular of the national parks in Utah).

Related: 10 Things To Do In Arches National Park: Complete Guide To Moab's Most Scenic Gem

How To See Balanced Rock Of Arches National Park

Balanced Rock in the winter at Arches National Park
Balanced Rock, one of the most iconic features in the Arches National Park

Balanced Rock is found just next to the main road of the national park. It is around 9.2 miles from the entrance to Arches National Park and the Arches Visitor Center. It is among the few top rock formations of the park that is clearly visible from the road.

Opening Hours:

  • Visitor Center: 7:30 am to 6:00 pm (may vary seasonally)
  • Park Hours: 24/7

Come during the evening and see how Balanced Rock changes color and becomes saturated in a deep red-orange color. Stay on after dark and see how the area is also a great place for stargazing and night photography.

  • Location: 9.2 miles or 15 kilometers from the park entrance

Balanced Rock Viewpoint & Trail:

There is a quarter-mile long (400-meter) paved loop trail from the main road to the base of the Balanced Rock. From there visitors can gaze up at the massive size of the teetering rock and wonder how it got there.

  • Distance: 0.3 miles or 0.4 kilometers
  • Elevation Change: 35 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

The shot trail loops at the base of the trail and is easy to hike. The trail is partially paved (the first part of the trail is flat and paved). Note that it is prohibited to climb on the Balanced Rock.

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 A Yellow Van On The Road In Arches National Park Entrance Station, Moab, USA
Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash
 A Yellow Van On The Road In Arches National Park Entrance Station, Moab, USA

Facilities include a picnic area and a vault toilet.

After visiting the arches and balanced rocks of Arches National Park, visit the many canyons, buttes, and mesas of Canyonlands National Park and the dazzling rock spires or hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park.