Arches National Park attracts millions of visitors every year, and no wonder! With over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, incredibly scenic vistas like Park Avenue and Balanced Rock, and challenging hiking trails with the dubious names of Devil’s Garden and Fiery Furnace, Arches offers fabulous views and outdoor adventures sure to please practically everyone.
Perhaps the best way to experience this amazing national park is to park the car and explore on foot. From the relatively easy to the quite challenging hiking trail, Arches National Park provides visitors with plenty of opportunity to experience stunning scenery up close, and to explore incredible natural wonders not visible from the road. And, finding your own slice of scenery with no one blocking your views is easier than you think!
SnapShots of Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail
Hiking a trail less traveled is a great way to ditch those summer crowds clogging the roads. Come along with us as we escape the crowds for a path less traveled, straight into the Devil’s Garden! Our objective? To experience an incredible back-country trail and to see all eight of the Devil’s Garden arches along the way.
The Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail is the longest maintained trail in Arches National Park. At times, it can be quite challenging as it winds its way past eight incredible, awe inspiring arches, alongside giant finned canyons, and through acres of red slip rock.
The primitive section of Devil’s Garden is rated Strenuous and Difficult, neither word an exaggeration for what this trail offers! Come prepared for at least 7 miles, and as many as 10 miles of rough and tumble hiking, depending upon which side trails beckon you to follow.
The Devil’s Garden trail begins easy enough, like a casual hike along a fairly well manicured path leading to Landscape Arch. This stretch of trail is very popular, often crowded in summer, and most certainly not primitive! Don’t be deceived by that relatively flat, easy hike up to Landscape Arch, though. The real challenges are yet to begin!
Most visitors to Devil’s Garden make it to Landscape Arch. Few venture beyond it. Crowds thin dramatically after this point, whereas the experiences elevate, with twists, turns, climbs and descents through terrain sure to challenge even the more seasoned hiker.
The trail beyond Landscape Arch is quick to challenge as it makes its way through crevices rimmed with huge boulders, along narrow, slip rock ledges, and past red rock fins. This section of trail is truly a challenge, not recommended for those with young kids, those not acclimated to hiking along rough trails, nor those wearing flip flops!
But oh the sites and scenery found along the Primitive Trail! With nary another soul nearby, most views are unobstructed, just you and Mother Nature as the trail weaves its way through this wild and wonderful garden of contrasts.
Detour to Partition Arch and Navajo Arch for the morning sun across the landscape. Tackle the long and narrow stretch of sandstone ledge with expansive views across Arches National Park and Fin Canyon, a myriad of red rock fins. Don’t slip now! That ledge is a fairly steep drop off!
Don’t miss the turn out for Double O Arch, the second largest arch in Devil’s Garden. The trail’s fairly rugged here, including slip rock and a stretch of sand to traverse, but it’s worth the effort to get up close with this unique, impressive formation of one arch above the other.
The trail continues deeper into Devil’s Garden, past the turn out for Dark Angel and on to Private Arch. At times, the Primitive Trail is a fairly well marked, well trodden trail. Other times, it is not so well marked, nor is it so easy to hike!
Yes, the Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail is more challenging than it appears. Yet the challenges are worth every step, every strenuous effort. There is a true sense of the remoteness out here. Just try getting a cell phone signal! Not likely.
Four hours later, our last arch is dead ahead, and our hike through Devil’s Garden is complete. Time to take a break! All that sun and hard work leaves one quite hungry and thirsty!
Challenges of Devils Garden Primitive Trail
Is the Devils Garden Primitive Trail for you? Well, only you can answer that question. There are several hiking challenges along the way, including narrow ledges with steep drop offs, full sun exposure for long stretches of trail, as well as steep rocky climbs and descents.
To take on the Devil’s Garden, one should be comfortable with back country hiking. The trail is not always well marked, with only small piles of rock cairns to point towards which way to turn, and what path to follow. One must keep a vigilant eye upon the trail for these markers, else risk missing key turns along the way.
One should also be comfortable with heights and for physical challenges beyond basic hiking. Steep rock faces will be climbed up, and then scaled back down multiple times along the trail.
Short, steep crevices with narrow steps cut into the rock will also be navigated. Don’t look down! Traversing down those rock faces can be more daunting than going up them!
And sometimes those ascents and descents may require a fair amount of scrambling and crab-walking to navigate the trail. Lastly, with no shade in sight for long stretches, this is a trail best hiked in the morning, especially during the hot summer months.
The question remains. Did we achieve our objective of seeing all eight arches? Well, no. We missed the trail to Dark Angel. But we made it to seven of the eight arches, each impressive in its own unique way, and well worth this grueling, challenging hike.
Have You Hiked Arches National Park?
Would we hike the challenging Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail again? Absolutely! It was an incredible, invigorating, exhausting four hours that was the highlight of our two days in Arches National Park. Our only regret? That we weren’t able to hike the Fiery Furnace too!
How about you? Have you hiked a trail less traveled in Arches National Park? Did you hike the Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail? Do share your own hiking experiences in Arches.
Catch the rest of the Series – Photos of A Family Road Trip Adventure:
- Road Tripping in Colorado and Utah – Photos of a Family Adventure
- Exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado.
- A Fascinating Experience at Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM
- Welcome to The Iconic Four Corners Monument, USA!
- Mesa Verde National Park – Snapshots of an Amazing, Enlightening Experience
- Inside The Oak Tree House Cliff Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park
- Inside Animus Forks – A Colorado Mining Ghost Town Experience
- A Day of Experiences in Canyon of the Ancients and Hovenweep National Monuments
- 5 Favorite Moments – A Photo Journey Through Arches National Park
- Exploring Dinosaur Footprints & Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
- Exploring Sego Canyon’s Ancient Rock Art & Historic Ghost Town
All photos by C.Biederman