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If there is one must-do hike in Arches National Park, I think it has to be the Devils Garden hike – a loop that includes the Primitive Trail. Over its 7.2 mile length you are treated to the highest concentration of arches in the world – if you include all the spur trails. Even though the trailhead is busy, it won’t take long to lose the crowds.
The Devils Garden hike is truly a breathtaking beauty and one of my picks for top one day hikes in the world. There’s a bit of rock scrambling and hiking along beautiful stretches of sandstone fins. And the views are sublime.
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Devils Garden Trailhead Location
The trailhead for this hike is located at the end of the main road into Arches National Park. There’s a giant parking lot and even though it can be crazy busy, don’t let that put you off.
Once you step onto the Primitive Trail Loop or continue past Landscape Arch you lose 90% of the people. They’re probably put off by the warning signs saying “Caution: Primitive Trail: Difficult Hiking”.
That’s not to say there aren’t a couple of slippery spots, even slightly airy spots but the trail is very doable if you’ve got a good fitness level.
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, Black Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch and Wall Arch. Dark Angel Arch can be reached via a trail from Double O Arch.
Distance to Landscape Arch: 1.6 miles round trip; allow up to an hour with stops
Distance to Double O Arch: 4.2 miles round trip; allow 2 – 2.5 hours
Total distance including the Primitive Trail and all the arches: 7.8 miles with 1178 feet of elevation gain; Allow 3.5 – 4.5 hours.
At the section pictured below, I figure our group of four is now on YouTube. The gentleman escorting his girlfriend had his video out while we helped her navigate a slippery section of slickrock. He didn’t as much as offer to help but was very keen on getting the whole ordeal on camera. I’d dump him if I were her with that attitude.
Do you know 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.
Other 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 is a very popular national park.
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 actually hot. Do carry a hat, sunscreen, and bring several litres of water.
The entrance fee to Arches National Park for a vehicle is $US30/vehicle or $US25 for motorcycles . It’s good for a week.
Before you go – read Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. It’s a classic.
Where to stay in Moab
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.
Further reading on things to do in the Moab area
- A Sunrise Visit to Dead Horse Point State Park
- Balanced Rock at Sunset, Arches National Park
- The Ultimate Itinerary for a Visit To Moab
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