Devils Garden Primitive Loop
Arches National Park
- Trailhead Location: Devils Garden Trailhead
(Latitude, Longitude: 38.783179, -109.594930)
- Payoff Factor: 4
(1 being “A complete waste of time and energy”, 5 being “The payoff is definitely worth the effort“)
- Difficulty Factor: 2 (only a couple difficult sections with some exposure to heights)
1 being your Grandma can do this hike, 5 being you’ll feel like your Grandma when this hike is over)
- Length (Distance): 7.4 miles round-trip
- Length (Time): 3.5 - 5 hours (with stops at all arches)
- Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet (5,160 lowest, 5,487 highest)
Keep your eyes open for wildlife, like this snake slithering back into his hole!
Ignore our tired faces! At this point, we had been hiking non-stop for a week and it was super early in the morning (to beat the crowds!)
This was our favorite hike in Arches National Park and in the general area of Moab, Utah. There are amazing sites to see at regular intervals (which is great for my ADD) and interesting routes that take you along the spine of slickrock fins with mesmerizing pinnacles and endless interesting rock gardens in all directions. Make it a point to get to the trailhead just after sunset as there were literally over 100 people starting the hike when we finished around 10:30 a.m. Had we started around that time, it wouldn’t have been worth it to hike the loop although I imagine that most people turn around and return to their vehicles after viewing the Landscape Arch.
As with all hikes in the desert, there is minimal shade and maximal sunlight, so bring plenty of water (around 3 Liters per person) and apply sunscreen and/or protective clothing to shield the sunlight.
For a 7+ mile hike, there is a lot of action packed into this trail - seven named arches and one optional spur trail to a 150’ monolith named “Dark Angel”. Once you get past Landscape Arch, you will see a NPS sign warning, “Caution, primitive trail, difficult hiking;” maybe this is to warn the massive amount of people hiking to Landscape Arch not to venture onto the slickrock spines or fins, but the trail is not overly difficult…if you have any experience in the backcountry, do not back down - the little degree difficulty is definitely worth it!
We completed this hike in a clockwise manner with a visit to Landscape Arch first (before visiting Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches) in order to view the arch with favorable morning sunlight which makes for an amazing photographic opportunity against the vivid blue Utah sky. This is definitely the most advisable route.
Here are the key highlights (mileage markers) for the Devils Garden Primitive Loop:
- 0.0 - Start at northwest end of parking lot and follow solid gravel path
- 0.3 - Reach the spur trail to Tunnel Arch and Pine Arch
- 1.4 - Reach Landscape Arch and the official start point of the primitive trail
- 1.8 - Reach the spur trail for Partition Arch (0.18 miles) and Navajo Arch (0.33 miles)
- 3.1 - Traverse the narrow spine of a fin with exposure to heights on both sides
- 3.7 - Reach the Double O Arch (at trail left). There is a spur trail that leads to Dark Angel - this trip report does not include this side trip.
- 4.1 - Reach the spur trail to Private Arch (0.5 mile round-trip)
- 5.3 - Criss-cross through the wash (sandy trail) and make the short climb up the trail for 0.2 mile to the prairie.
- 6.5 - Join up with the Devils Garden Trail that took you to Landscape Arch.
- 7.4 - Reach the parking lot after following the gravel path