Arch dams have strong structural behavior because of their arch geometry. Numerical analysis of the arch dams is a necessary not only to validate the structural performance of the existing arch dams but also to model and analyze modern dam constructions. Finite element models for the arch dams are generally very complicated in terms of having many unknown parameters. In this study, finite element analysis of an arch dam is performed with using a shell finite element formulation to investigate the preliminary structural behavior of arch dams. A four-node shell finite element is proposed and used for analyzing of an arch dam. The arch dam geometry is simplified with using a middle surface. The formulation is verified with an arch dam example in the literature. Robustness of using a shell finite element formulation is indicated with the finite element analysis. Arch stresses at the upstream and downstream of the dam are presented as structural results. It is seen from the results, using a shell finite element is dramatically practical and effective for the structural analysis of the arch dams.