Ok so there are a lot of Arches in Arches National Park. It is the most appropriate name for a Park that I have come across – a nice return to logic after a park name like Capitol Reef. We got into Moab’s Motel 6 late the night before and awoke early with our mind set on two things – coffee and a nice hike. After dealing with the first need, we set off to Devil’s Garden at the far end of Arches. We figured we might as well drive all the way out and work our way back hitting all the points of interest along the way – using two days to feel like we saw enough to be satisfied.
The three hikes not to be missed:
Devil’s Garden: This is the longest maintained trail in the park (if you do the whole Primitive Loop) at 7.2 mi / 11.5 km if you go to all attractions along the way. (The hike is pretty easy, very little elevation change, but some scrambling). We did not go out to Dark Angel, so our trail was probably a few km’s shorter – 9km? It was a lovely introduction and immersion into what Arches is all about. Definitely wear some shoes with good tread – my Tom’s were NOT a good choice!!! You can also see some things – like Lanscape Arch, without the long hike.
Fiery Furnace: To partake in this little adventure, you need to sign up with a Ranger-led tour – and it is totally worth the effort to do so! You can do it at the visitor info centre or online here. Not only do you see more beautiful arches and desert scenery (and learn about it!), you get to do a little more scrambling – you learn to Spider your way between irregular sandstone pieces and other techniques to pass through some tight spots. The 3-hour hike is perhaps slightly strenuous and you need be up to embracing the adventure.
Delicate Arch: Highlight alert!!!! DO NOT MISS DELICATE ARCH! Ok – it is not often I both bold and capitalize my writing, so you had better know this is serious. This Arch blew my mind. This was the very last Arch we visited in the park and honestly my excitement about arches had waned to a minor interest – I could almost take it or leave it. But I wanted to visit all the sites, and this one had yet to be checked off. The hike was pretty strenuous (3 mi / 4.8 km), especially with the sun beaming down on us as we hiked up a steep slick-rock. I started to get excited as we reached the area where there is “some exposure to heights” – a short section of the trail, right near the top, where you follow quite a large ledge up and around to the Arch. Along this section of the trail, on the right hand side, there is a window up the slick-rock bank a bit. As we approached, we met another hiker who said the view from that window was great, and the scramble up to it wasn’t too bad – so I took off. It was slightly scary – if you don’t like heights, it will be pretty obvious to you not to do it. But through that window you get to see Delicate Arch for the first time, and that sight it fantastic!!
These are the only “hikes” we did, but we also did the short walks to:
- Sand Dune Arch
- Loop around The Windows