TODAY   |  June 29, 2010

Our nation’s golden arches

Utah’s Arches National Park is home to the largest concentration of naturally created sandstone arches on the planet, considered by some to be one of the world’s most majestic geological wonders. TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager takes a look.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> series "america the beautiful" a truly amazing natural wonder .

>> "today" contributing correspondent jenna bush hager is busy exploring some of america's most beloved places. this morning we find her at arches national park in moab , utah . jenna , good morning. beautiful spot.

>> reporter: good morning, guys. it is absolutely beautiful. and here in southeastern part of utah in moab , arches national park , and from this magnificent arch behind me, i'm sure the origin of the park's name is no secret. there are more than 2,300 naturally formed arches here. and i got to see several of them up close on a hike through the fiery furnace . one of the most majestic geological wonders, arches national park located in the desert of moab , utah . the park is home to the largest concentration of naturally created sand arches in the world.

>> the unique part of the country, it's a unique part of the world. they're huge and impressive and just beautiful.

>> reporter: arches national park attracts photographers and hikers from around the globe. hundreds of miles of red sand covering trails, breathtaking formation like this one. this formation named delicate arch has become a symbol of the state of utah . have you seen any sand castles ? on my visit, i decided to tackle one of the park's most challenging hikes through what is called the fiery furnace . park ranger kerry sinclair was my guide. why is this named the fiery furnace anyway?

>> it has to do with the lights, this place at sunset. the rocks are just going to glow like fire. it's beautiful red. and when you stand back from the fiery furnace , the way the rocks come out of the ground, it just looks like flames.

>> reporter: but don't let the name fool you. fiery furnace . are we going to burn in there?

>> no. no, surprisingly not. the fiery furnace is the place you want to be when it's hot outside. those rocks are going to give us amazing shade. actually in moab in summer you want to be in here.

>> reporter: water and sunscreen, i think we're ready. what we're going to do today on our tour, we're going to explore the body of the fiery furnace . what's the one thing in there that keeps this place every day, every year, what keeps it alive.

>> reporter: it soon became clear that what started as an easy trek was not for the faint of heart. walking quickly gave way to jumping. okay 0, one, two, jump. don't over think it. i overthought it. scrambling. and squeezing through tight crevices. oh, you'll fit. it may be awkward. we don't get points for pretty. as challenging as the hike was, the views made it all worth it. 76,000 acres untouched by mankind.

>> this may be a good spot for you to take a minute and enjoy the silence and i want you to listen to your heart beat. so go ahead and find that right now. just take a couple seconds and listen. so what you're all hearing right now is, in fact, what i think is the heart of the fiery furnace . i think it's each and every one of you that gives this place life. thousands upon thousands of people have been in this very area, but you're still seeing rocks, still walking side-by-side, a living dirt. it could be a couple hundred years old. you think about it, everything those folks left, they left here for you. everything you left here today is what people will get to enjoy the most. somewhere only we know

>> reporter: one of the highlights of visiting any national park , and arches is no exception, is a day spent hiking. as an avid hiker myself, the fiery furnace is one for the books. and don't think i've forgotten about you guys back in new york. as i mentioned, the delicate arch has become a symbol of utah . it's even on the license plates. so this one is for you, matt and meredith.

>> i like that, jenna . thanks so much.

>> i like that a lot.

>> jenna beat natalie and amy robach and all of these other people.

>> it is a great assignment.

>> you have a big day of travel ahead of you. i understand you're heading completely across the country. where are you going to be tomorrow?

>> reporter: tomorrow acadia, maine. the flights will be brutal.

>> acadia national park in maine. jenna , thank you very much.