We pulled into Moab around noon on Monday. Found a spot at the Goose Island BLM campground and settled in for lunch just in time for the rain to begin. It rained on and off all day Monday and then overnight the temperature dropped rapidly. Tuesday morning greeted us with freezing temps and a rain/snow mix. A perfect day to stay inside with the heater on and catch up on work/reading/napping. Two good things happened on Wednesday. First, one of the riverside sites opened up and we quickly moved over there before anyone else could take the spot.
Second, the skies cleared and the sun came out. A perfect (although still chilly) day for our first hike in nearby Arches National Park. We decided to tackle the Devil’s Garden Trail. This is the longest maintained trail in the park if you choose to hike the entire trail, including a section they call the Primitive Loop and all the spur trails. Which we did. The trail begins with a hard packed easily accessible 1.5 mile stroll to the Landscape Arch. Measuring 290.1 feet across this is the longest arch in park and considered to be the longest natural arch in the world. Back in the early 90s several large chunks of sandstone fell from the thinnest part of the arch, prompting the park service to close the trail that once passed beneath it. Today you can only visit the arch from a fenced off viewing area a few hundred feet away.
After Landscape Arch the trail became less civilized, climbing up a steep section of slickrock marked only by frequent cairns before reaching the spur trail leading to the Partition and Navajo Arches.
It’s only a short .8 mile round trip hike to see the two arches and well worth the side trip off the main trail. The Partition Arch is actually two arches side by side with an awesome view of the valley below.
The Navajo Arch has a rather cave-like appearance with a shaded alcove that I imagine provides hikers with much needed relief on hotter days.
After hiking back to the main trail we continued following the path along the slickrock enjoying the stunning views to the east.
Far off in the distance we spotted the appropriately named Black Arch.
Soon we reached the Double O Arch. At this point most people turn around and head back to the parking lot, making this a nice 4.5 mile round trip hike. Not us- no way. There was more to see and we were going to see it.
We continued to the most northerly point of the trail where the Dark Angel spire rises 150′ from the rocky surface below.
On the way back to the Double O Arch we stopped to enjoy a snack. In the distance loomed the La Sal Mountains with fresh coat of gleaming white snow.
Back at the Double O we headed down the Primitive Loop, leaving most of the other hikers behind. The first arch we spotted was the Goggles Arch. We couldn’t get a very good view of it and were confused by the name. Don’t goggles have two openings?
Next up was a short spur trail to the Private Arch.
The Primitive Trail continued for several miles through impressive rocks fins, sandy washes and a sage brush prairie before hooking back up with the main trail. It’s not a terribly difficult trail, with only a few spots where you need to scramble up or down the slickrock.
Once back on the main trail we took another short spur trail to visit our final two arches. By this point it was late in the afternoon and clouds had started to roll in, making the lighting not so great. We didn’t care though because these last two arches brought us up to a total of 9 arches in one 8 mile hike!
Make that 10 with the addition of this mini arch that we spotted somewhere on the trail. I wish I had put my hand next to it for scale. It was only about 3″ tall.
Devil’s Garden was an outstanding hike and a great introduction to the park. We can’t wait to go back and explore some more.