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UGS launches “Utah Arch Challenge,” Online Voting Underway

The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) launched has launched an online tournament called “Utah Arch Challenge” to pit some of Utah’s well-known and lesser-known natural arches and bridges against each other for statewide geologic superiority.

The Challenge will consist of six single-elimination rounds, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament. Voting for the first round, the Round of 64, is currently underway and will be open through Saturday, March 20. Interested participants can vote at archchallenge.utah.gov.

“We’re still facing some unprecedented and difficult circumstances in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given our current and unique circumstances, we figured we could all use a creative distraction,” said UGS Director Bill Keach. “This challenge provides an opportunity for families to learn more about the state’s amazing geology, and participate in some light-hearted fun.”

The Utah Arch Challenge includes 64 Utah arches or natural bridges that have been randomly placed on the tournament bracket. Participants are encouraged to vote each round for their favorite arch or bridge as the field is trimmed from 64 geologic hopefuls to the “Faunal Four” contenders, and ultimately Utah’s sole Arch champion.

The outcome of the single-elimination tournament is determined solely by head-to-head voting, broken into the six rounds outlined below:

  • Round of 64: Thursday, March 18 – Saturday, March 20
  • Round of 32: Monday, March 22 – Tuesday, March 23
  • Seismic 16: Friday, March 26 – Sunday, March 28
  • Eroded 8: Monday, March 29 – Tuesday, March 30
  • Faunal 4: Friday, April 2 – Saturday, April 3
  • Arch Championship: Monday, April 5

Why Arches?
Arches are unique to Utah, and the geologic beauty found throughout the state is unlike any other area in the world. Almost half of the world’s 15 largest known natural arches are found in Utah.

It’s estimated that Utah’s Colorado Plateau is home to thousands of natural arches and bridges. Arches National Park alone is home to over 2,000 documented natural sandstone arches with a diameter of at least three feet. Additionally, at least 800 significant arches have been identified and photographed elsewhere in Utah. Geologists believe thousands of others exist.

Read more about why there are so many natural arches and bridges in Utah.