Moab’s Grand County consists of 3,682 square miles. Take a ride around the county to locate alternative Arches to be seen while in Moab. Whether your preference is hiking, biking, 4wheeling or sightseeing from the pavement, an arch is set aloft of the natural crevices and broadways, awaiting your gaze. The main arteries, State Roads 128, 279, 313, 211, and 191, are obvious routes once you have arrived in Moab. Moab is such a little quaint town. Get a map and head out. So what is your preference?
Sightseeing by Vehicle on Pavement
Description: Updraft Arch is up top of the rim of the canyon wall. It is eroded into Navajo sandstone on the south side of S.R. 128.
How to get there: From the intersection of Hwy 191 and S.R. 128 around .9 miles Updraft Arch is poised high up on the rim. There is a driveway 1.1 miles out. You have past the arch when you reach this landmark. It may be best to stop at this parking lot head down a foot path to the paved Goose Island Trail to walk back upstream to search for Updraft Arch again. It will be around .2 miles from the parking lot. Latitude: 38°36’2.95″ Longitude: -109°33’33.41″
Description: Huntress Arch blends in on the smooth slickrock face toward the rear of a little side canyon. Look for two orbs near, but below the rim in the wall toward the back left side of the canyon.
How to get there: Park temporarily at Goose Island Campground. It is 1.4 miles along S.R. 128 from the junction with Highway 191. Across the road is a shallow side canyon. Huntress Arch is in there. Latitude: 38°36’22.93″ Longitude: -109°32’17.41″
Little Arch and Jug Handle Arch
Description: A sign indicates the position of Jug Handle Arch. It is beyond Corona Arch hiking trail and Gold Bar Campground at the intersection of Long Canyon. Long Canyon is a popular 4×4 route which is often impassable during or after severe rains. Little Arch is high on the canyon wall. No signs. It is more difficult to locate. There are pull offs in the area to stop and ply searching. Watch for traffic.
How to get there: Drive 13.5 miles on State Road 279 from the intersection of Highway 191 and S.R. 279. There will be a sign designating Jug Handle Arch. This road is also known as the Potash Road. Watch for Little Arch in the north rim on your way in to and out from Jug Handle. It is at approximately 3.5 miles from the junction of Hwy 191 and S.R. 279. And approximately 10.1 miles from Jug Handle back toward Hwy 191.
Day Trip South Of Moab
Looking Glass Arch
Description: It is located in a somewhat solitary feature of sandstone referred to as Looking Glass Rock.
How to get there: Drive south of Moab on Hwy 191, catch Looking Glass Arch on Looking Glass Road, a passable 2 mile dirt road 23 miles south of Moab. Stay on pavement when the road is wet.
Description: Wilson Arch measures 46 feet high and 91 feet wide. There are two very large parking lots on either side of Hwy 191. To stop to take photographs.
How to get there: Sticking to the pavement, 26 miles south on Hwy 191 is the huge Wilson Arch, a road side phenomenon.
Description: Fernin R. Lopez ran cattle in La Sal. He was a well-known and trusted ranch foreman.
How to get there: Lopez Arch is small, yet visible to the east side of Hwy 191 at mile marker 98.
Wooden Shoe Arch
Description: It is always fun to find arches in the shape of familiar things. This one reminds the viewer of a Dutch clog.
How to get there: Turn off of Hwy 191 onto Hwy 211. Near the end of Hwy 211 is the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. This is a fee area. Wooden Shoe Arch will be on the southern horizon along the way and you will instantly know why it got that name. A road sign points out Wooden Shoe Arch too. Take a moment to stop at the Wooden Shoe Overlook.
Always carry food and ample water for sightseeing in the desert canyon country.
Hiking to an arch
Three hikes are found off of S.R. 279.
Description: Longbow Arch is an established hike from the Poison Spider Trail parking lot. Besides the trail to the natural arch, the trail forks to petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks. The Longbow Arch trail has an initial climb of a few hundred feet of elevation. Then the trail evens out. This is a great path-finding opportunity for youngsters. The trail is marked with green paint along sandstone or green flagging across sandy patches and washes. The end of the trail is not marked. It is in a narrow slip that climbs gradually beneath and past the arch to switch back to gain ground beneath Longbow Arch. It is 1.2 miles out-and-back.
How to get there: Longbow Arch is an established hike from the Poison Spider Trail parking also along S.R. 279. Corona Arch. Poison Spider Mesa parking lot on SR 279. Trail accessed between the pit toilet and nearby informational kiosk.
Description: On the trail to Corona Arch watch for other arches along the way, like Bowtie and Pinto
Arches. The trail climbs up to a railroad track and visitor registration box. Go over the tracks down the other side to follow rock cairns along the base of a cliff, across slickrock and sand patches. The trail has a cable strung along slickrock. Walk on the uphill side of the cable here. A second cable provides a hand hold for ascending sandstone with notches carved for foot holds. At the top of this passage is a fiver rung ladder to gain another little pitch. Corona Arch can be seen from this landing, more or less. Another 250 yards of walking you can be underneath the arch.
How to get there: Drive 10 miles along S.R. 279 from the Hwy 191 junction to find the Corona Arch parking lot. Across the road is the Gold Bar Campground.
Goldbar Arch (a.k.a. Jeep Arch)
Description: Canyon bottom walking comes to a dry pour over. Find the beaten path to the right/east of this obstacle to get beyond it. After some distance another pour-over will be passed again to the right. Travel on slickrock with huge boulders. Watch for cairns on the left to leave this floor to go up a slope. The trail eventually forks. It is a loop with a scramble through the arch back around. The trail gains 900 feet from the culvert. It is 3.5 miles round trip.
How to get there: Goldbar Arch can be found beyond Corona Arch parking lot .3 miles more on S.R. 279. Go through the culvert under the railroad track.
Two hikes are accessed off of S.R. 313
Description: Walk up the South Fork of Seven Mile Canyon to Streak Arch. Cross the road, Hwy 313, to hike about 1 3/4 miles up the canyon, arch is on the left. The Desert Varnish, manganese stains are beautiful and give this arch this name.
How to get there: Park at a small turnout on the right about 2.3 miles from Hwy 191 onto Hwy 313.
Jewel Tibbetts Arch
Description: This 1.6 mile loop starts on a dirt road but soon leaves the road to go through several dry washes to rejoin a road no longer available to motorized use. After the trail leaves this old road, follow rock cairns across ledges, through Pinyon-Juniper woodland to the slickrock edge of 400’ deep Hell Roaring Canyon. Use caution on the cliff section near the canyon rim.
How to get there: Go to mile 13.6 off of SR 313. Drive the dirt road 1.5 miles west to the trailhead parking lot.
One hike is off of Kane Springs Road.
Hunter Canyon Arch
Description: . The arch is about a half mile from the Hunter Canyon parking lot and up on the right side of Hunter Canyon. In the spring water may be flowing in Hunter Canyon.
How to get there: Hunter Canyon is off of Kane Creek Road, where pavement turns into a two wheel drive dirt road. Kane Creek Road has a switch back and creek crossing that should be considered for clearance. The arch is about a half mile from the Hunter Canyon parking lot and up on the right side of Hunter Canyon. In the spring water may be flowing in Hunter Canyon.
Mountain bikes are NOT allowed on this list of hiking trails.
Biking to an Arch
Road cycling on Scenic Byway 313 is popular. Mesa Arch
Description: Bike from the town of Moab along the paved Moab Canyon Pathway (72.4 miles round trip), park at the junction of Hwy 191 and S.R. 313 (47.8 miles round trip), or unload the road bicycle at one of the viewpoints out along S.R. 313 to pedal into Canyonlands. The viewpoint at the top of the switchback would be a 41.2 miles ride. Don’t forget the $10 for a biker’s entrance fee or to bring your Federal Recreation Land Pass.
How to get there: The wide shoulders on S.R. 313 are appreciated. Pedaling into the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park the road narrows significantly. If traffic is low, head to the Mesa Arch trailhead 6 miles from the park boundary. Lock up the bike to stretch out walking this .5 mile loop to enjoy an arch situated on the edge of a precipice. No biking on the trail. Returning to Moab, watch the distant skyline. You are peering into Arches National Park. The windows section makes a spectacle of their self.
Mountain Biking also in Canyonlands.
Description: Musselman Arch is on the White Rim in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park .Bicycling, 4Wheeling or dual sport motorcycling each require a free day use permit. The ISKY visitor center issues those permits. Or complete the online reservation 48 hours at most before the date of use. Use will be capped at 50 for day-use bicycling.
How to get there: Ideally, hire a shuttle to the Island in the Sky, ride down the Shafer Trail out to Musselman Arch. Or hire jetboat services to drop you off at Lathrop Canyon to pedal from river to White Rim passing Musselman on the way out. Make it an epic 49 mile ride back to town via the Potash Road (Hwy 279). Or follow the jetboat to the Potash Boat Ramp and park there to end this ride at the ramp.
Description: Natural Arch on the edge of the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area. Length is .5 miles out-and-back. The trail is a wash, then crosses slickrock benches, ledges, and requires scrambling. If you are lucky you will see vehicles stuck at Rocker Knocker, The Rock Pile and Yellow Hill, three nasty ledges with no vehicle by-pass. Pritchett Bridge can be a fantastic mountain bike ride. The 4×4 road is treacherous even for skilled 4wd drivers, is much more navigable by bike. Worth $2 to cross private land from Kane Creek Rd and pedal 4.2 miles to view Pritchett and Halls Bridges. Or run a shuttle to bike a 22 mile course through the Behind the Rocks trail system. From this direction you should find a directional ‘Pritchett’ post at every intersection.
How to get there: Pritchett Canyon is 4.5 miles from Highway 191 out Kane Creek Road. You must pay a private land owner to access the canyon from this point. This is one of the most difficult 4×4 roads in the area. Consider mountain biking or hiking 5.1 miles up Pritchett Canyon Jeep Road from Kane Creek to hike a short .5 spur to the arch.
Doing some 4 Wheeling?
A backcountry map will either name or indicate a Natural Arch to be found along a myriad of trails. Ample rentals are available to travel the dirt roads. Make reservations for rental jeeps, OHVs or trail motorcyles. There are tour companies who will drive ahead and lead visitors to these spots too.
Uranium Arch has a 75 ft span. Near the arch is a sign painted on slickrock indicating “arch”. The final part of the trail to the base of the arch is difficult terrain, park and walk or negotiate it with a properly equipped 4WD vehicle.
How to get there: From the junction of Hwy 191 and S.R. 313 set your mileage, continue north on Hwy 191 5/8 of a mile. Find a wide dirt parking lot. This is the trailhead for Sevenmile Rim Trail or jeep trail no.9 on the Trails Illustrated/National geographic Map Moab North Map 500. On the dirt road keep left at 1 1/8 miles fork. In an 8th of a mile turn right at a second fork. Now traveling north for 5/8 mile for another left turn (still on Jeep Trail No. 9 – follow Sevenmile rim Trail signs) for ¼ mile where road goes south. Keep left for the next 3 forks. The dirt trail goes aound the south end of Corral canyon, flows a cliff for 1/2mile then turns right for another 3/8 of a mile to Uranium arch.
Description: Collapsed sometime in first part of 2010 and spanned 17 feet. Find Squaw Window 1 km northeast of Arrowhead on the same cliff-line.
How to get there: At Dewy Bridge on S.R. 128 turn onto the Owl Draw Upland road. Continue past Buck Spring. Keep right as the road jogs 90 degrees from a southwest direction to a westerly direction. Watch for a lighter duty dirt road, a right hand turn leading to a prominent sandstone outcropping. The arch is atop the sandstone feature.
Description: On the way to Picture Frame arch you get to see Balcony Arch too.
How to get there:
Drive south from Moab on Hwy 191. About 12.3 miles, turn right or west onto the Behind the Rock Road. It is 5.4 miles of two wheel drive to Lone Rock (also known as Prostitute Butte). At this junction, a sign will indicate the way to Pritchett Arch. Turn right. The trail is now 4WD and goes along the side of Lone Rock. Watch for Balcony Arch at the very top of the butte. You cannot climb to Balcony Arch. Picture Frame Arch becomes visible at the turn around at the backside of Lone Rock. You can walk up to Picture Frame Arch
Visit the Moab Information Center for maps. Located at the Corner of Main and Center Streets in downtown Moab. Use www.discovermoab.com to find bike or 4×4 rentals and tours. More information is a phone call away as well, 435-259-8825.
This brochure is presented as a courtesy to area visitors. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to the safety or ongoing validity of information listed herein. The Moab Area Travel Council or it’s agents are not responsible for any liability arising from the use of the information herein.
In cooperation with: The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and San Juan County Tourism.
Canyon Country Minimum Impact Practices
- Tread lightly and leave no trace. Drive , pedal and hike on established roads and trails. Hiking is appropriate on rock and in washes besides designated trails. Camp in marked sites. Use a stove rather than a campfire. Backcountry camping requires a portable toilet in southeastern Utah. Tent camping is better suited to campsites with pit toilets. RVs may utilize Bureau of Land Management or State Trust Land dispersed sites. Use only previously occupied locations. No bushwhacking new sites. Gathering firewood is prohibited.
- Keep canyon country clean. Pack out trash. Remove solid human waste. Clean up after less thoughtful visitors. Recycling center is located on the Sandflats Road.
- Protect scarce desert water sources. Keep 300 feet from isolated water sources to allow wildlife access. Leave potholes undisturbed. Wash away from these precious pools or springs. Carry all of your own drinking water.
- Allow space for wildlife. Maintain distance and remain quiet when encountering wildlife. Keep children and pets under control and away from wildlife.
- Leave historic sites untouched for preservation. Admire Native American rock art, ruins and artifacts from a distance. Walk clear of dinosaur tracks. Scratching, painting, chalking, rubbings, and casts are forbidden, and damage sites. Make pictures. Teach others to respect these ‘open-air museums’. Report violations.
- Learn to recognize to preserve biological soil crust. This delicate, often black, crusty-looking , complex of soil and slow growing algae, moss, bacteria, and lichen retains water, reduces erosion, and provides a stable base from which higher plants can flourish.
Published by Moab Area Travel Council in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management Moab District Office, Trail Mix, SITLA and San Juan County.