Arch, Arches National Park
7.6 miles (loop)
time: 4 1/4 hours
280 ft. gain/loss
Garden Trailhead (start): 5,180 ft.
Arch: 5,320 ft.
Angel: 5,460 ft.
Generally easy, well used trail
Spring, summer, fall, winter. The trail is
quite hot in summer, so carry plenty of water.
For more information call the Visitor Center,
Arches National Park, at (801) 259-8161.
Arches National Park, near Moab
the strange and wonderful rock formations
of southern Utah interest you, you will love
this hike. Devils Garden contains eight of
the best known sandstone arches in Arches
National Park, including Landscape Arch, the
park's longest span. The area is a particularly
good place to study the life cycle of natural
arches. You will see many spans of different
ages as you wander through the jumbled canyons
of stone. On the return portion of the loop
you will pass through a giant maze of long
vertical sandstone fins, all parallel to one
another with narrow canyons between. These
fins are the raw materials from which future
arches are being made. In another million
years, when all of the present arches are
gone, there will be many new ones in these
canyons to replace them. Some of the new arches
might even be more spectacular than the present
ones. Although we mortals are allowed only
a fleeting glimpse of her current display,
Nature is continually modifying and replacing
the trailhead the path goes for only 0.3 mile
before another spur trail leaves on the right
to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. Both Pine
Tree and Tunnel are very young arches with
relatively small openings surrounded by large
masses of rock. They are not as impressive
as some of the other arches, but as a prelude
to the next arch-one of oldest-you should
take the time to see them. The side trip to
these two arches will extend your hike by
about 0.6 mile.
on the main trail for another 0.6 mile will
bring you to another junction. You will be
returning on the path to the right, so for
now bear left toward Landscape Arch. Soon
you will see a short loop trail on the left
leading to this well known landmark.
For most people,
Landscape Arch is the high point of the Devils
Garden hike. The arch is so improbably long
and slender its span seems to defy the laws
of physics. The slender ribbon of stone extends
for some 300 feet from base to base, and rises
105 feet above the sandy desert floor. Landscape
is a very old arch, definitely in the last
stages of its existence, but how much longer
will it endure? Maybe another century, maybe
several, but certainly not more that a thousand
years. Because of its size it is difficult
to photograph Landscape Arch. But if you want
to try plan to be there in the morning, and
make sure you bring along a wide angle lens.
Arch the trail continues northward, past Wall
Arch, to another short spur trail leading
to Navajo and Partition Arches. Navajo Arch,
on the western edge of Devils Garden, is the
larger of the two. Visiting these two arches
will add about 0.7 mile onto your hike.
The main trail
ends at Double O Arch, 2.2 miles from the
trailhead. From here another short trail on
the left goes to the base of the Dark Angel.
Dark Angel is a sandstone monolith, about
150 feet high, that stands prominently on
the edge of a long narrow bench overlooking
Salt Valley. It commands a nice view across
the valley of the Klondike Bluffs, on the
western edge of the national park. The round
trip to Dark Angel will add another 1.0 mile
to your hike.
When you are
ready to return, you should turn north from
Double O Arch, and take the loop trail that
goes back through Fin Canyon. This trail is
what the Park Service calls a primitive
trail. It is not as well developed as
the main Devils Garden Trail, but it is quite
easy to follow and, in my opinion, it is the
most interesting part of the hike. The trail
wonders through an intriguing collection of
thin stone fins, all aligned in a northwest-southeast
direction. The fins were formed millions of
years ago when the ground rose beneath a solid
block of sandstone, causing it to fracture
and separate into long, parallel vertical
sheets. The existence of these large fins
is the primary reason why so many arches have
been formed in Arches National Park.
about a mile in Fin Canyon, the trail breaks
out on the eastern side of Devils Garden and
eventually meets the main trail again just
east of Landscape Arch. From the junction
it is an easy 0.9 mile walk back the trailhead.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here to order
his book Utah's
Favorite Hiking Trails.