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© Don Davis/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Before and after: The Natural Arch used to resemble a dragon feeding its young. Now it appears more like a crescent.
The prominent sandstone arch succumbs to gravity and erosion. Park rangers say there is no evidence of vandalism.

A prominent sandstone arch at Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada has collapsed.

Park rangers said it appeared Natural Arch was claimed by forces that would eventually destroy about 300 other arches in the park: gravity and erosion.

They said horseback riders notified them about the damage Wednesday, and no one has reported seeing it fall. It's unclear exactly why and when the arch collapsed, but there's no evidence of vandalism, rangers added.

"Maybe someone tried to take a picture on the rock, which we don't recommend, but there's nothing here that proves this was done on purpose," park supervisor Jim Hammons told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The arch is along the Natural Arch Trail near the park's east entrance. Standing on a rock formation about 40 feet off the ground, the arch was nearly 6 feet tall and 5 feet across.

About a decade ago, another arch in the park, Mosquito Rock, collapsed during a storm.

Hammons said wind and rain could also have contributed to the collapse of Natural Arch, about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

"It's not a strong rock," he said. "That's why we really don't have rock climbing out here. After enough water, this stuff can break like a dirt clod."

The collapse left piles of crumbled, powdery red remains on Natural Arch's northwest side and a larger chunk of rock on the nearby trail.

The arch, which once resembled a dragon feeding its young, now appears more like a crescent. The long, rocky span that some hikers nicknamed the "dragon" is no more.

Source: The Associated Press