Miles driven: 56.0
Miles hiked: 7.5+
Last night was wicked hot in the van. It was about 100 degrees as I tried to sleep, drowning in a pool of sweat. I had the roof vent open to try to get some of the heat out, but it was almost just as hot outside so it took most of the night for it to cool off. Around 3am, someone started knocking on the van. Since I figured it was the cops trying to harass me for “camping” on the street, I just ignored it. That’s how you solve problems, right? Ignore it until it goes away? Well, that’s how I do. After five minutes or so, whoever it was gave up and went away. See? It works. Needless to say, I’ll be parking in a different spot tonight.
I woke up and headed to the park at 6:30 this morning, trying to beat both the heat and the crowd. After stopping at the visitor center to get water and eat breakfast, I headed down the road to the Devils Garden to hike all 7.2 miles of trail. This is the very last stop on the main road in the North half of the park.
Even getting there so early, the parking lot had more than a few cars already there. It appeared I had some competition.
The trail starts out as a cool walkway between canyon walls and as soon as you round the first corner, there’s an awesome sandy area that looks like a great place to cool down. Since I had just started and it was still cool outside, I kept walking.
My first stop was at Landscape Arch, which is very recognizable due to its narrow top. On the way there, I passed by several cool rock formations and saw three mule deer. One of them crossed the path directly in front of me and I was able to get his picture. I also saw a couple bunnies and lizards running around today.
As I continued on, the trail started to get more interesting. Up to the Landscape Arch, the trail is a well-maintained gravel pathway. After that point, you are climbing up rocks and following cairns to stay on the trail.
Eventually there was a side trail that splits off to see Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. They’re only a combined total of 0.5 miles and worth the effort. I was there to hike the entire Devils Garden trail and recommend anyone who goes does the same.
Partition Arch… and a cool log. The wood spirals!
I continued on to the Double O Arch and passed many more beautiful sights along the way. There’s actually another (unmarked on the map) arch on the way called the Black Arch, but the trail doesn’t go close enough to get a good picture. I absolutely love the colors in the base of the Double O.
Next stop, Dark Angel; a huge, dark rock sticking straight up. Looks kinda perverted, if you ask me.
The trail continues on until another side trail splits off to go to Private Arch. Although the arch is awesome in itself, walk through it and then walk up the rocks to the right. There’s a huge labyrinth of sandstone towers that reminds me of scenes from a Riddick movie.
From that point on, there are no designated sites to see as you follow the Primitive Trail back to the main entrance. The trail does get a little more difficult in a couple of spots, but it’s not that bad. One spot was a very steep incline, slanting perpendicular to the direction you have to walk, and there’s a very painful looking drop if you were to slip. Another section has a large, slanted rock mound you have to climb up and over to find the trail. It’s too slanted to place cairns on, so you don’t know it’s the trail until you climb up on it. I ventured off trail for a little ways to check out a canyon area, so I added at least 0.3 miles to the total distance I did today. The last section of the Primitive Trail was like walking through a desert. It’s an entirely sand pathway and the sun was beating down hard by that time.
Once back at the beginning of the trail, I did the last two side trails. The first is for Tunnel Arch, which is pretty high up and the trail is more of an overlook area.
The second trail is for Pine Tree Arch.
By the end of it all, I was quite tired and glad to be done for the day. Took me about four hours to complete the entire loop, stopping very frequently to take pictures and waiting at some of the arches for other people to get out of the shot.
There’s only two trails in the entire park I didn’t hike: Fiery Furnace, which is about 2 miles if you do the guided tour, and the Tower Arch trail, which is 3.4 miles. Tower Arch is way off in the West side of the park and doesn’t have a paved road to get to it. If Henrietta wasn’t such a monstrous van, I’d attempt to take the dirt road out to the tower. There’s also a 4×4 road that leads out to it. The park guide says the road has soft sand, so I’m not gonna risk putting Henrietta’s weight on it, as I don’t want to get stuck out there.
Out of all the other places in the park, it’s hard to decide what was my favorite one. Honestly, I love the entire park. Every day has been fantastic. This is why Utah is one of my favorite places to be.