Southwestern US, US National Parks

Sand, Sand, and More Sand – Arches National Park, Utah (part II)

For day #2 in Utah, we headed back into Arches to explore the other half of the park. We followed the main road all the way to the end this time, to the Devils Garden campground, picnic area, and trailhead. Just before the picnic area is a short trail to Skyline Arch.

Skyline Arch (Day 2)
Skyline Arch

Devil’s Garden is a 7 mile (11 km) loop hike that leads to 8 different arches. For the sake of time, we only went to the first 5 of them, making it probably about a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) round-trip hike. Just a short distance up the trail are the first two: Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

Beginning of DG Trail
Devil’s Garden
Tunnel Arch
Tunnel Arch
Pine Tree Arch

The next three arches are about a mile up the trail, but are located fairly close to each other. Landscape Arch is the longest arch in the park and one of the longest in the world, stretching 300 feet from end to end. Over the years, three sections of rock have fallen from the underside of the arch, making the thin span of rock even thinner. When my mom visited Arches 30 years ago, she could walk up underneath Landscape Arch. I assume it was the falling slabs of rock that prompted the closure of that trail.

Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch

Beyond Landscape Arch are Navajo and Partition Arches. The trail continues beyond these arches to three more before looping around and returning to the parking lot.

Partition Arch
Partition Arch
View from Partition Arch

The other trailhead at Devil’s Garden is a 2 mile (3.2 km) loop leading to Broken and Tapestry Arches. Unlike most arches, you can’t actually see straight through Tapestry Arch due to the rock wall behind it. It’s bizarre, but also very unique. Broken Arch, on the other hand, is a large, perfectly prototypical arch.


Tapestry Arch
Tapestry Arch
Broken Arch
Broken Arch

Our hike back from these arches was less than pleasant. By late afternoon, thunderstorms were approaching and the wind was picking up – to the extent that we periodically had to hide out behind boulders to avoid the blowing sand.

We weren’t always fast enough, though. By the end of the hike, we were picking sand out of our teeth and ears. Literally. There was sand in our hair. And since we were wearing sunscreen, we were completely coated in a layer of fine red sand.

Needless to say, we had to sponge off in the sink that night avoid dragging all this extremely fine sand into our tent.

View as we hid out from the sandstorm. Those dark blotches in the corners… those would be from grains of sand that got stuck in my camera lens, preventing it from opening all the way

Despite the blowing sand, we really enjoyed this hike, and it was a great way to end our time at Arches National Park!

The Important Stuff:

  • Getting there: located off of US Highway 191, 5 miles (8 km) north of Moab, UT
  • Fees & passes: $25 per car for a 7-day pass; Interagency Annual Pass accepted
  • Camping: Devils Garden Campground; we didn’t stay here, but it’s $25 per night and reservations are necessary
  • Hiking: Devil’s Garden is an easy-to-moderate 7 mile (11 km) loop to 8 arches, but it can be any distance you choose. Broken & Tapestry Arches is an easy 2 mile (3.2 km) loop.
  • Other: as we learned the hard way, sand + wind = sand all up in everything

6 thoughts on “Sand, Sand, and More Sand – Arches National Park, Utah (part II)”

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