Devils Garden – Arches NP

Moab, UT

Usually Sunday is a day we spend hanging around the motorhome, leaving the stores and parks to the working world enjoying the weekend.  But the weather prediction for this past Sunday was for clear skies and decent temperatures, while much of the rest of the week looked to be cloudy, cool, and possibly rainy.  So we decided to sneak out and pretend we were not retired and do a hike in Arches National Park.

During our first visit to the Arches Visitor’s Center two weeks ago to get information on hiking in the park, we were told by a ranger that Arches does not have a great number of hiking trails, as most of the best known sites are near the main road through the park.  But one of the longest and most scenic hikes is in an area known as the Devil’s Garden.  Two weeks ago we drove through this area and couldn’t even find a parking place anywhere near the trailhead as it was in the middle of the spring break time period.   But Sunday, with most spring breaks over, we were able to easily find a place to park very near the trail and begin our adventure.  The first section of the hike is over a mile and a half of flat, well-maintained trail.

The trail entrance

About a mile into the trail there is a spur that leads to two large arches.  The first is Tunnel Arch, with a small arch just to it’s left.

Tunnel Arch

Just a short distance up this spur trail is a very large arch called Pine Tree Arch.   That’s Pam  standing in the left side of the arch in the picture below.

Pine Tree Arch

We returned to the main trail and continued on to Landscape Arch.   At a little over 290 feet, it is considered the longest natural stone arch in the world.  A trail that led under the arch was closed in the early 1990s when several large chunks of sandstone fell from the center of the arch, so you can’t get very close.

Landscape Arch

At Landscape Arch the maintained portion of the trail ends and it becomes primitive.

The trail quickly gains altitude, going upward on sandstone fins.

If you turn around at the top of the first fin, you’re treated to a nice view of the snow-covered La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Parts of the hike are along the edge of rocky outcroppings of sandstone shaped into cool pattens by wind and water.

We turned on to another spur trail that led to two more arches.  The first is called Navajo Arch.

Navajo Arch

A short hike from Navajo is Partition Arch.  This is another huge arch, as shown by the picture below. Pam can barely be seen seated inside the arch.

The trail continue over a long fin of sandstone.

Along that fin we found an example of an un-named arch that demonstrates how the park can claim to have over 2,000 arches.   To be designated an arch, a formation must be at least three feet across, have light observable through it, and be formed by one solid piece of rock.  A ranger told us that most of the 2,000 arches are very small.  There are about fifty arches of significant size in the park (and we’ve almost seen them all).

As we continued, we could see an arch in the distance.  We believe it is Black Arch, but we’re not positive.

Black Arch?

While crossing a long stretch of slickrock, we found a nice spot out of the cold wind where we enjoyed lunch with a view.

Lunchtime

After a brief lunch break, we continued up the trail to Double O Arch.  This is really two arches, one large and one small.  But the small arch is still pretty big,  as we had to climb up some steep slickrock to climb through it.

Smaller portion of the Double O Arch

Smaller portion of the Double O Arch seen from the other side

Both parts of the Double O Arch. The smaller arch is a bit difficult to see, but is in the lower left

Another spur trail took us out to a view of Dark Angel,  a free-standing 150-foot sandstone pillar.

Dark Angel

We continued in a long loop on the primitive trail, with large rock fins and neat formations all around us.

Rock fins

A dolphin?

Another spur trail led us to a hidden arch, called Private Arch.

Private Arch

John waves to the camera from the left side of Private Arch

The face of a witch?

As we stood on a large area of slickrock waiting for a group of hikers to pass us in the opposite direction, John spotted yet another arch not far away.  Since this arch was not named on any list we reviewed, we decided to name it ourselves.

John’s Arch (pretty creative name, eh?)

The final section of the primitive trail involved a hike of about a mile slightly up hill in loose sand.  The view of the mountains helped ease the strain of the sand.

We finally returned to the maintained trail and made our way back to the trailhead.  A few local residents kept a keen eye on us to be sure we stayed on the trail.

After hiking over eight miles and seeing at least ten arches, we returned to the Jeep tired but happy.  We think that we have found over half of the two thousand arches reported to be in the park, but unfortunately we lost the paper with our count on it, so we may need to start over again!

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23 Responses to Devils Garden – Arches NP

  1. Lisa says:

    What a gorgeous day for your hike! Wishing we were in red rock country too…!

  2. Gay and Joe Taylor says:

    Another great hike for you….beautiful pictures! We are getting excited about being there next month!

  3. What? you two hiked a mile and a half on a FLAT surface. Unheard of for you two.

    Pam, you are such a midget compared to that arch.

    Egads…I knew it wouldn’t last long. Not only a difficult trail but a primitive one at that.

    The view from the first fin is awesome. Love those mountains!

    You two are so clever at naming arches. I want to be sure to see John’s Arch when we get there.

    Another wonderful day for a little stroll. Did you go back the same way?

  4. cathy says:

    One of our favorite hikes! Thanks for the memories!

  5. Ingrid says:

    I really enjoy the photos with one of you under, near, or on the arches as this really gives us an idea of the size. Great photos and hike!

  6. Amanda says:

    Glad you got this hike in before the weather turned crappy. Love the newly named arch!

  7. Pam says:

    Looks like hiking on a Sunday turned out to be a good idea after all. I can hear the enthusiasm for this hike in your descriptions. That lunch spot would make it all worthwhile for me. We haven’t done hikes as ambitious as yours, but you keep on inspiring us!

    • placestheygo says:

      My theory on Sunday being less crowded is that all the weekenders need to go home that day. I think the last of Spring Breaks ended, also! Anyway, it was a good choice both with the people and weather. Finding all those arches had me in seventh heaven!

  8. Hope the wind is not too bad for you today…it’s blowing up a storm here in Lovely Ouray.
    Box Canyon Mark

    • placestheygo says:

      Boy, what timing, Mark! You must have sent the wind. Just about the time your comment posted the wind started to really gust. It isn’t too bad but definitely making it unpleasant to be outside.

  9. Losing the paper that holds the count is a great excuse to do it over again. I just love it! I hoped you left a marker for Johns arch for us to pose when we get there.

  10. LuAnn says:

    I love the perspective you give on the size of these arches. Utah has got to have some of the most unusual topography. Thanks for sharing it! 🙂

  11. Pam says:

    Great pictures! There are “secret” petroglyphs near Dark Angel. The park doesn’t advertise them as they want to preserve them. I found this blog post that gives a vague description of their location http://blog.bigskyconvection.com/2012/05/2012-march-19th-devils-garden-arches.html just in case you want to hike back to try and find them.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Pam! Too bad we didn’t know this. I’m sure we won’t be hiking back with so much yet to see in the area. Maybe next time! But I will pass this along to some people who are heading this way.

  12. Erin says:

    I remember feeling sad when part of Landscape Arch collapsed. We visited before that happened and were able to get close to it at the time. We’ve seen most of the named arches, but really look forward to someday hiking to them. This time of year weather looks just about perfect to do these hikes. And of course we will have to go and find John’s Arch when we get there 😉

    • placestheygo says:

      To see Landscape Arch now, it is hard to believe anyone ever walked under it. There is now evidence of a path or trail at all. April was a good month to see Arches except for Spring Breaks which flooded the park!!

  13. Joan says:

    Thanks for the trail description and photos along the trail (not just arches). I passed up this hike in 2010 but plan to do it in July ’13 with the same group. Unfortunately, they hike it after lunch in high sun and heat. Some ran out of water in 2010…I plan not to. Maybe I can talk them into an early morning start.

    • placestheygo says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Joan. Thanks for checking it out. Devil’s Garden is a great hike filled with lots of different challenges. I can’t imagine doing it later in the day this time of year with the heat…Good Luck!

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