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A Sunset Hike To Balanced Rock Arches National Park

A Sunset Hike to Balanced Rock Arches National Park

I spent a week on a holiday in Utah. After meeting up with friends in Denver, we drove six hours to Moab, Utah. Our plan was to hike in Arches and Canyonlands National Park before heading to Torrey, Utah where we’d spend some time exploring Capitol Reef National Park. Here’s an account of the end of our first day at Balanced Rock 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 looks so different depending on where you are standing
Another view of Balanced Rock
Another view of Balanced Rock in Arches
Great views in the area of Balanced Rock - including the snow capped La Sal Mountains
Great views in the area of Balanced Rock in Arches – including the snow capped La Sal Mountains
Close up of the La Sal Mountains from Balanced Rock
Close up of the La Sal Mountains from Balanced Rock
Arches National Park
Our spot for sundowners – beneath Balanced Rock
Arches National Park
Beauty everywhere you look
Try to catch the golden hour at Balanced Rock
Try to catch the golden hour at Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock looks very different depending on where you stand
Balanced Rock looks very different depending on where you stand
Two rocks glowing
Two rocks glowing
Balanced Rock looks like a figure in the fading light
Balanced Rock looks like a figure in the fading light
Sunset in Arches National Park
The last light

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 metres)
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

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Where to watch the sunset in Arches National Park

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Great decision to watch the sunset — along with some Malbec. I’ve been to Arches Nat’l Park, but not in ages and I didn’t watch the sun go down there. Enticing pics, Leigh!

  2. Beautiful! I was wondering if you camped out there, but it looks like you stayed in Moab. Did you read (reread) Edward Abbey before your visit?

  3. Love the photos here. It looks as if it’s an extraordinary place and amazing how the rock is balanced.

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