If there is one must-do hike in Arches National Park, I think it has to be the Devil’s Garden trail hike – a loop that includes the Primitive Trail and eight arches if you do all the spur trails. In fact, over its 7.9 mile length you are treated to the highest concentration of arches in the world! The hike offers lots of variety including walking on sandstone fins, clambering up and down slickrock, and even a wee bit of rock scrambling – though nothing too difficult. The trail is the longest in Arches National Park – and the most difficult.
The Devil’s Garden trail hike is truly a breathtaking beauty and one of my picks for top one-day hikes in the world! Views out to the sometimes snow-capped La Sal Mountains are sublime.
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Devil’s Garden Trail summary
- The entrance fee to Arches National Park for a vehicle is $US30/vehicle or $US25 for motorcycles. Individuals can enter for $15 without a car. The park pass is good for a week.
- The Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop trail covers 7.9 miles with all the spur trails.
- The total elevation gain on the loop is 1178 feet.
- Allow 3 – 4 hours to do the full loop hike with all spur trails.
- The trail is located at the end of the park road.
- Consider visiting Arches National Park in the off-season between late October and early March. That way you’ll have a better chance of getting into the park as they started timed entries in peak season in 2022. If you can visit at sunrise, you’ll have a magical experience and there should be fewer people.
- Don’t expect to have much of a cell signal on the trail.
- Before you go – read Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. It’s a classic.
Hiking distances on the Devil’s Garden trail
- Round trip to Landscape Arch: 1.6 miles; allow up to an 1 hour – the easiest and most popular part of the trail
- Round trip to Double O Arch: 4.2 miles; allow 2 – 2.5 hours – the most spectacular part of the loop hike
- Round trip to Dark Angel spire: 4.7 miles; allow 2 – 2.5 hours
- To Dark Angel spire and back via the Primitive Trail: 5.9 miles; allow 2.5 – 3.5 hours
- Spur trail to Pinetree and Tunnel Arches: 0.5 miles; allow 20 minutes
- Spur trail to Navajo and Partition Arches: 0.8 miles; budget 30 minutes
Devil’s Garden trailhead location
The trailhead for this hike is located at the end of the main road into Arches National Park. To get there, drive approximately 18 miles from the park entrance through the stunning Arches National Park landscape. Allow 35 – 45 minutes to make the drive. There’s a giant parking lot at the end of the road which fills quickly. Even though it can be crazy busy, don’t let that put you off, But if you can, arrive really early – like sunrise early, so you can enjoy the beauty of the hike with fewer people around.
Location map of the sights on the Devil’s Garden Trail
What arches can you expect to see on the Devils Garden hike?
The Devils Garden hike over-delivers in the scenery department from the minute you set foot on the trail. I think it’s the best hike in the park.
If you do all the spur trails – which we did not, you can expect to see the following arches: Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Double O Arch, Private Arch, Dark Arch, Navajo and Partition Arches, and the remnants of the collapsed Wall Arch. The Dark Angel spire can be reached via a trail from Double O Arch.
Devil’s Garden Trail – Primitive Trail route description
We hiked the Devil’s Garden trail in a counter-clockwise loop. There’s no right or wrong way to hike it but because we started in mid-afternoon, it worked out well with fewer crowds by Landscape Arch on the return.
Some people have said that they have had problem route-finding on the Primitive Trail section, but that was not our case. Although there isn’t a lot of signage on the Primitive Trail, the trail is well-worn. But perhaps if you’re not paying attention or you don’t have a lot of experience hiking, it might be intimidating. Download a map or take a picture of a map before you head out.
The Devil’s Garden Trail hike is made up of three sections listed below. If you do it clockwise, you have the option of doing an out and back from Double O Arch but if you do it counterclockwise, you’ve committed to doing the whole loop including the Primitive Trail.
- the easy hike to Landscape Arch by way of Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch.
- the fantastic section trail to Double O Arch, with the option to visit Partition and Navajo Arches and Dark Arch near the Double O Arch.
- or pick up the Primitive Trail at Double O Arch and continue on the loop with an option to visit Private Arch. You can also retrace your steps and do it as an out and back hike to Double O Arch.
Described is the loop trail going counter-clockwise.
From the trailhead, head north for 0.2 miles on the dirt path pictured below. Take the first right to visit Tunnel Arch. Go back to the intersection and go left to visit Pine Tree Arch. We did this with our kids years ago but have no photos to show for it.
Retrace your steps to get back on the main trail. At 1.3 miles go right to pick up the Primitive Trail. Within minutes, it feels different. You’ve left the crowds behind and its quieter. Follow it as it rambles past beautiful rock formations. Keep an eye out for cairns, though you won’t find a lot of them. The views out to the La Sal Mountains are expansive and beautiful.
When you start heading southwest, you’ll see a spur trail for Private Arch. Just after that the trail gets a little tougher to follow, but if you keep looking for cairns you should be fine. You’ll also have to negotiate a pool – which had some water in it when we were there, but it does dry up. There’s a bit of scrambling to get up some slippery sandstone but then it eases and the rest of the hiking is good to Double O Arch.
The best hiking on the Devil’s Garden trail loop is next. Climb up and down sandstone fins, enjoying the excellent traction. From the safety perspective you do need to be aware of some steep drop-offs so use some common sense on this section – and keep an eye on kids. You won’t have nearly the number of people on this part of the hike, even though its like no other place you’ve probably been on the planet.
There is the option to make a side trip to Navajo and Partition Arch but it will add 30 minutes and 0.8 miles to your hike.
You’ll definitely want to stop for photos by Landscape Arch. It spans 306 feet and is just 11 feet wide at the narrowest section. It makes you wonder how long it will stay standing. It’s a hard arch to capture well so move around to get a variety of views.
Shortly after passing Landscape Arch, you’ll reach the turnoff you took to the Primitive Trail. You’re back on familiar ground and it won’t take more than about 20 minutes to get back to the car. Next up if you’ve timed it right – sunset at Balanced Rock. I highly recommend watching the sun go down here.
Walking along the spine towards Landscape Arch
More hikes in Arches National Park
There are another eight hikes in the park ranging in length from 0.3 – 3.0 miles round-trip. None are particularly difficult – and all are worthwhile. Do get to trailheads early if you want to get a parking spot. This national park has skyrocketed in popularity so crowds are huge compared to 10 years ago.
The other hike you must sign up to do is called the Fiery Furnace hike. You can reserve online – and you should especially for morning tours which fill months in advance.
In early April by mid-afternoon the hiking is very hot. Do carry a hat, sunscreen, and bring several litres of water.
Fun fact: The difference between and arch and a bridge
Typically there’s water under a bridge – though in the desert it may be sporadic – and there isn’t water under an arch. It seems there are always exceptions but it’s a good rule of thumb.
Where to stay in Moab, Utah
You can camp in Arches National Park at the Devils Garden Campground but you must reserve sites. They go quickly between March 1 and October 31. Between November and February, campsites are first come- first served.
My favourite place to stay in Moab is the Sunflower Hill Inn. Breakfasts are amazing and the hosts are helpful.
I also recommend the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn, conveniently located downtown.
More reading on Utah
Arches National Park and nearby
Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
- Utah Road Trip: Sights Between Moab & Capitol Reef
- The Capitol Gorge Hike in Capitol Reef National Park
- The Chimney Rock Trail, Capitol Reef National Park
- The Navajo Knobs Hike in Capitol Reef National Park
St. George – Kanab area
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