My favorite hike in Arches National Park is the Devils Garden Primitive Trail. Last July I hiked this with Josh in the middle of the day. It was pretty hot and although we had brought water, we probably should have carried more.
The trail is at the far end of Arches from the entrance. This hike is a great way to see a bunch of arches up close and without having to deal with the crowds you see at The Windows or Delicate Arch. It is a 7.2 mile loop with multiple spurs that starts at the Devils Garden Trailhead. The first part of the trail is paved and you quickly traverse about a mile and a half to the iconic Landscape Arch. Most folks turn back there so it gets lonely from here on out. After climbing up a rock scramble the path becomes not as well marked. There is a lot of traversing sandstone and climbing on ledges. We passed Partition Arch and then took the spur to the left and quickly came to Navajo Arch. This arch was cool because you could go through it and take pictures from either side. We went back to the main loop and took a picture of an unnamed rock formation that looked to me like a UFO. I hereby named it UFO Rock and took a picture of the formation for posterity.
We continued down the trail until we came to Double O Arch. It was very dry and sandy by this point. Double O was really cool because it was one arch on top of the other, kinda like a figure 8. After checking it out for a moment, we continued on skipping the spur to Dark Angel due to the water concerns. We thought we could Dark Angel in the distance but were not sure.
Double O Arch
We then commenced to the most fun part of the hike which was the Primitive Trail portion. This area was not marked well at all and several times it was just a cairn in the distance that kept us from wandering lost into the scrub and canyons. However, jumping from sandstone to sandstone or sliding down a slickrock to get to the next one was a highlight of the day. We did take the spur to see Private Arch and then finished the loop around back to Landscape. On the way in, we hit took the paved spur to see Pine Tree and Tower Arches. We were able to complete the 7.2 mile trail in about 2.5 hours so we were moving at a pretty good clip.
Pine Tree Arch (from the backside)
I highly recommend taking time to do this trail when visiting Arches. It is a rare place in this park to have some solitude and see the backcountry a little bit. It’s probably better to do the hike in the morning rather than the middle of the day due to the heat and sun in the summertime.
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