Ring Arch and Tunnel Rock – Arches NP

Moab, UT

On Saturday morning we planned to go on a hike in Canyonlands NP with Steve and Mona Liza (Lowes RV Adventures).  But the day dawned cloudy and cold with rain possibilities in the forecast.  Since the hike we planned was lengthy and in an exposed area, we thought it best to cancel the hike.  Of course, as it turned out the day was mostly sunny with no rain in sight.

Even when the sun poked through we were wary of the weather, so we decided to take a shorter hike closer to home to find a little visited arch in nearby Arches NP.  We tried to find the Ring Arch last year but turned up the wrong canyon and failed to locate it.  This year we looked up the coordinates of the arch and located it on Google Maps.  While researching the location of the arch, we learned that not far from it there is a nice little tunnel through a sandstone wall.  So off we went to find both locations.

We entered the park and drove on Arches Scenic Drive to a parking area on the west side of the road, just north of the small bridge over Courthouse Wash.

Looking south – the white arrow is the bridge, the red is the trail

Not far from the road (the red arrow in the photo above) the trail goes by a large boulder.

On the other side of the boulder are some images scratched into the rock.  One blogger called this “Cowboy Art” for lack of a better name.

A date scratched above the images is Nov. 11,  1917, one year before the end of WWI.

Continuing past the Cowboy Art the trail goes through a riparian area along Courthouse Wash, which has a steady flow of water.

Where did the nimble hiker go?

We made our way along the trail as it crossed numerous dry washes and the round slickrock at the base of the tunnel came into view.

The tunnel is at the top of the slickrock on the right

Heading up to the mouth of the tunnel

It is a little tricky to get up into the tunnel, but John was able to get there with a little help from another hiker who was also trying to get up and in.  John then helped the other hiker up the rock.

Looking back at the entrance from inside

Looking out the other side

Looking back at the canyon from the tunnel

A good way to go down steep slickrock

Next, we hiked about a mile to the south to visit the Ring Arch.  We couldn’t find a trail and ended up bushwhacking our own trail.

The arrow marks the arch as we approach it

Two years ago a large section of the right side of the arch collapsed, so Ring Arch is now very thin and may not have much life left.

Lunch with a view

Nap with a view?

On the hike back to the road we again couldn’t find a defined trail.  So we followed some animal trails, enjoying great views of the snow covered La Sal Mountains in the distance.

The mountains also provided the backdrop for great views as we drove through another section of Arches NP after completing the hike.

Although we didn’t get to do our planned hike with Steve and Mona Liza, we did get to finally locate Ring Arch and cross it off our to-do list.

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15 Responses to Ring Arch and Tunnel Rock – Arches NP

  1. Sue says:

    I LOVE the Ring Arch Pam and John! Its even more special because it is nearing the end of its evolutionary path. You were so lucky to capture that moment in time. Looks like the butt slide strategy the nimble hiker employed is one used by many others….I see quite a few skid marks down the slick rock there! Thanks for showing us that tunnel….pretty neat find!

  2. Very cool day! Hans and I need to do some extra exploring in Arches off the main trails!

  3. Jeff says:

    Is the slickrock slick when its wet? Wold make the butt-scoot down a bit of an ‘E-Ticket’ ride. Another great find to share.

  4. pmbweaver says:

    The photo looking back through the tunnel is a beauty.
    That was a BIG slickrock. Awesome that you two reached the tunnel. I see it was another butt scramble. lol
    Love the lunch with a view.

  5. LuAnn says:

    Another bucket list item bites the dust!

  6. Jodee Gravel says:

    That tunnel is really unique – great pics! Seeing an arch that thin, and bound to fall in the somewhat near future is a great moment. You’ve experienced something that others will never be able to even if they are nimble hikers as well. Love the nap with a view 🙂

  7. The guessers were definitely wrong! My list will keep longer if you keep discovering new trails!

  8. explorvistas says:

    Boy, of all national parks I want to explore out there, Arches is way up on the list. You two really know your way around there, and have journaled a boatload of reference for us. Thanks!

  9. Laurel says:

    That tunnel is cool! I’m wondering if you slid ALL the way down that slickrock, Pam — might need to start wearing leather hiking pants, haha! (I’d be sliding down that, too — I always revert to crab-crawling or sliding on really steep surfaces.) Ring Arch is beautiful — glad you’ve documented it since it might not be around much longer.

  10. Gay says:

    What a great find…Ring Arch is beautiful!

  11. girlonahike says:

    What a cool tunnel & arch! Adding it to my list. -Alicia @ http://www.girlonahike.com

  12. montanaclarks says:

    What a cool arch–it looks like a ribbon–great find guys!

  13. Great views, especially of the La Sal Mountains. No one ever seems to go to them..any plans to check them out??

    • placestheygo says:

      Pam, from what I understand the La Sal’s are the place to go in the summer to hike because it is so much cooler and there are a lot of lakes. Last year we were able to do the loop road through them in April but we did get snowed on. This year it snowed almost everyday. Friends only got about 12 miles before the snow covered roads got too bad and they had to turn around. So this is probably the reason you don’t hear about people visiting there:)

  14. geogypsy2u says:

    I absolutely love that tunnel.

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