Thursday, October 2, 2014

Arches NP (Devil's Garden Trail)

Posted from the Grand Canyon  (click on pics to enlarge)

There are MANY more pictures in our Google Photo Album for this blog post.

This was our last hike in Arches NP and I believe it was the best.  It has many different elements offered in a single hike.  You've got lots of arches, beautiful scenery from the ridges, "fins" to rock scramble across, and the trail itself is varied.  For those with less time or physical ability, the first part is basically on a flat, well groomed trail. For the more adventurous there are steep climbs, scrambles over slickrock, and narrow ledges (and that's even before you enter the "primitive" trail).

We originally intended to just head out to Dark Angel and come back to the trailhead along the same route. By the time we got to Double O Arch we changed our minds and returned along the primitive trail.  The NPS map indicated a total distance of approximately 7.2 miles, but by the time we saw every arch along the way, the total distance wound up being a bit over 8.5 miles  More on the primitive section later, however.

As I indicated earlier, the start of the trail is very "tame". Two tall verticals frame the beginning walk.

Pine Tree Arch

We took the first side trail to view Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. The only reason I could determine why it was named Pine Tree Arch was because of a pine tree growing right in the center of the arch's floor.

Tunnel Arch
Tunnel Arch was only a short distance back toward the main trail.  I have to say that it was one of the least impressive arches, however.

The first 1/2 mile or so of the trail was pretty busy.  That's probably because we again got a late start (around noon) and it seems like many other folks have a similar mindset.  The starting temperature was in the low 60's.

Landscape Arch
The end of the most visited part of the main trail culminates at Landscape Arch.  This one, to me, should be re-named extremely delicate arch.  Back in 1991, a large section of rock fell from the section of the arch leaving a very narrow strip of rock to form the arch. (I would have loved to have been in the area when 60 feet of rock fell to the earth.)

Beginning after Landscape Arch was a section I enjoyed.  This picture shows a gentleman "keeping a low center of gravity" as he descends the steep and narrow slickrock.

Here's Karen taking a moment after making the ascent of the same rock group shown in the previous picture.

Partition Arch
The next little side trail takes us to Partition Arch. The view through this arch to the valley below was spectacular.

On our trek toward Navajo Arch we came across these bizarre looking vertical walls created as the result of erosion.

Navajo Arch
Here's a picture of Navajo Arch taken from underneath the arch.  Notice the amount of standing water beneath the arch.  This will be important later on in this hike.

We're almost 2 hours into our hike at this point and the dark clouds are rolling in.  We hope that they will bypass us and head north.  Turning around at this point really isn't an option.

The vertical closely formed walls are called "fins".  Here we are beginning to cross a section of fins as the raindrops are beginning.  Slickrock is not a good place to be when it's raining.

Ok, it's time for lunch anyway.  With the rain getting closer we seek out some shelter.  Fortunately, the rain is still fairly light.

Double O Arch

At Double O Arch we had the option of continuing to the end of the trail at Dark Angel, or beginning the primitive trail for our return.

Because of the impending storm, we shortened the hike and turned onto the primitive trail.  Paying attention to signs is a good idea. The decription of the primitive trail in the NPS guide read "Expect narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and scrambling on slickrock. Not recommended when rock is wet or snowy."

Private Arch
The primitive trail is aptly named.  There are very few directional signs on this trail. It's important to understand how to follow cairns in this area. The first side trail took us to Private Arch. This is an appropriately named arch as it cannot be seen hiking toward it on the trail.  You come around a wall (where Karen is standing) and there it is.

I just threw this picture in because I like the "fins".

Some of the rock scrambling got a bit steep at this point.  Combining verticals and lack of good foot holds, sometimes this is the best method to get down.

This was probably our "scariest" section of rock to cross.  I didn't get any candid shots here because I was trying to keep from slipping. The rock was actually flatter and higher than it looks in this picture. (I added the red line to show the direction we used to traverse this section.)

Remember that standing water I spoke about back near the Navajo Arch? Well, we found some more. We're almost 4 hours into the hike now and getting a bit tired.  We should have only about another mile or so to the finish, but now we come upon an impasse in the trail.  There is no way to climb around the water on one side and the other side is a very narrow bit of slickrock. We were told by other hikers on the trail that the water was about thigh deep.  Ok, that's the route then.  COLD!

Back on the trail again and heading toward the finish.  The rains we've had the past couple of days met the ground as snow in the higher mountains nearby.

Finally, after 4 hours and 45 minutes we finished the Devil's Garden Trail.  This was a great hike!

This was our last day in Arches NP and in the Moab, UT area.  There is so much more that we wanted to see and do while in the area, but I guess we'll just have to make a return visit to fulfill those wants.

Thanks for dropping by to take a look!


  1. Looks like a great trail. Hope it warms up before we get there.

    1. Nan I have a feeling that it's only going to get cooler.

  2. You done good on your last day at Arches. I love the photo with the snow-tipped mountains in the background.

    1. It was strange Erin. We didn't even notice the snow on the mountains until we were about to leave. I didn't even think of the higher elevations getting snow, when all we had was rain.

  3. Wow what a fabulous finish! I'm so envious. We really wanted to do that hike although I think I might have been a nervous wreck on slickrock in the rain. No problem walking through water. You guys are some hikers! These are great pictures and a terrific narrative. Thanks for showing me what I missed.

    1. Sherry we had exactly the same feeling when we read your blog about Canyonlands NP. We just ran out of time to get over there. Thank you for YOUR review.

  4. We can't wait to visit Arches NP. Such amazing beauty in the rock formations.

    Did you see any footprints left behind from Sherry and David? :c)

  5. Thanks, looks like a wonderful hike .......that I might not ever take.

    1. Probably a wise decision in some parts of the trail.

  6. Every time I see you're great updates it makes me want to lift the jacks and head that way.