If you're looking for a short, easy hike in Capitol Reef National Park that delivers…
John and I spent a week on a holiday in Utah early one year in April – a great time to visit as it’s not too hot yet. After meeting up with friends in Denver, we drove six hours to reach Moab, Utah. Our plan was to hike in Arches and Canyonlands National Park before heading to Torrey, Utah where we’d spend some a few days exploring Capitol Reef National Park.
Here’s an account of the end of our first day at Balanced Rock in Arches National Park at sunset.
We had spent all afternoon hiking the Devil’s Garden – the best hike in my opinion in Arches National Park. At the end of the day rather than rush back to Moab for dinner we decided beforehand that we’d find a spot to watch the sun go down.
We had loaded up on nibblies and packed a Nalgene bottle full of Malbec – a perfect way to end the day in our view. We chose to watch the sun go down at Balanced Rock Arches, one of the best places in the park to view the sunset.
More places to catch the sunset in Arches National Park
Other places you might want to catch a sunset depending on where you are in the park at the time include Delicate Arch (expect crowds), the Windows, Courthouse Towers and Tower Arch.
Balanced Rock defies gravity. Weighing in at 3,500 tons, you can’t help but wonder when it will topple. The bottom layer is a mudstone that erodes at a faster rate than the cap rock – described as a hard slick rock member of the Entrada Sandstone. Eventually the mudstone will erode enough to cause the toppling of the Balanced Rock.
The total unit is 128 feet high, with the Balanced Rock contributing 55 feet.
Balanced Rock had a neighbour named Chip Off The Old Block Up until the winter of 1975/1976 when it toppled over at some point.
It’s a short, easy, family-friendly 0.3 mile hike in to Balanced Rock. The area around it affords magnificent views of the La Sal Mountains.
Here’s a look at the area around Balanced Rock Arches at sunset
Balanced Rock Trail details
Distance – 0.3 miles on a well-maintained and often very busy trail
Rated: An easy hike that will take just 10 – 15 minutes one way
Elevation at trailhead is 5160 feet (1573 m)
Best time to hike it: Year round – particularly at sunset
Note: There are bathrooms at the trailhead.
Finding the Balanced Rock Trailhead in Arches National Park
Drive 5 miles north out of Moab to the well-signed entrance to Arches National Park. Get a map as you enter and locate the Balanced Rock trailhead or ask a ranger at the entrance.
Continue for 9.2 miles to the signed parking lot on the right hand side as you drive in. The Balanced Rock is visible in the distance.
If you’re planning to be there for sunset arrive early to get a parking space.
Further reading on things to do nearby
- A Sunrise Visit to Dead Horse State Park in Utah
- The Ultimate Itinerary for a Visit to Moab
- The Devil’s Garden Hike in Arches National Park
Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.