Arches National Park
Delicate Arch is one of the most iconic and best known attractions of any national park and at sunset may be one of the best places to catch that once in a lifetime photograph. Delicate Arch stands among the vast desert of the Colorado Plateau, but surprisingly enough wasn't even protected when Arches became a National Monument in 1929. Not until Nine years later was an extension added to include and protect Delicate Arch.
Arches National Park has the worlds greatest concentration of natural arches in the world, hence the name. An “arch” must span at least 3 feet in any direction to qualify as one of the National Park’s 2,000 plus arches. Many of these beautiful arches are easily accessed on the park’s 18-mile one-way road and its numerous hiking trails.
Fiery Furnace is a favorite place to hike among park visitors. The area receives its name from the spires and fins that point to skyward and ignite with color when the sun sets. There are no formal trails within the Fiery Furnace. Our friends The Switchback Kids tell us more about this awesome adventure:
"The Fiery Furnace is a rugged, trail-less, 2-square-mile zone in the middle of Arches National Park that is often simply driven past. Looking out the car window on the way by, a visitor can see large rock formations that resemble other areas of the park. Meandering within the Fiery Furnace boundaries, though, is unlike any other experience in the park.
Before running off and getting lost in the maze-like twists and turns of the Fiery Furnace, your first stop is the Visitor Center. From here, there are two options: go on the guided tour ($10 per person, fills up fast), or explore on your own ($4 per person, rarely fills up). Both require registration and payment at the Visitor Center.
Can you guess which we chose?
Since we didn’t take the ranger-guided tour, we can’t speak much to it. But since it was recommended by a few people we ran into during the first part of our trip, we can assume it is also an awesome experience.
We can speak well to the self-guided exploration of the Fiery Furnace (or as we called it, “Choose Your Own Adventure Where the Soil Crust is Lava.”)
Okay. So you’ve watched the guidelines video, you’ve aced the flash-card ranger quiz, and you have your permit in hand. Now what?
Now is the fun part. Enter the Fiery Furnace via a feeder trail that leaves from the parking lot. From there, the area is yours to explore. You can climb, scoot, crawl, and squeeze your way through as many mazes of rock formations as you can, as long as you keep things low-impact. Stick to walking on sandy washes and slick rock. Pack out all waste and trash. Don’t kill the plants.
Even though I don’t have a “type-A” personality, I do like knowing where I am and I hate the discomfort of being lost. Two mindsets that don’t mesh well with the trail-less Fiery Furnace. My advice? Just know that you’ll find your way out. Even though the video warns about getting lost, the zone is not too big, and you’ll be okay.
If this doesn’t ease your anxiety, bring someone like Cole with you. His sense of direction is impeccable.
We spent about three hours in the Fiery Furnace, and that was plenty of time to explore. We saw a few “secret” arches, scrambled up some rock piles, and generally treated the Fiery Furnace like a giant playground. It was fun and exhausting and made us very sore in muscles that apparently aren’t used on regular trails. It tested our navigation skills and trail-following tendencies. It was an amazing way to spend three hours at Arches.
Get brave. If it is wilderness, solitude, or adventure you seek, you will without a doubt find it in the Fiery Furnace."
With easy access to both Arches & Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Utah becomes your basecamp for adventure. Moab has all of the amenities: restaurants, lodging, guides, outfitters, rentals and anything else you would ever need. Moab makes Arches National Park one of the most accessible and convenient National Parks to visit and explore.
Arches is a world class destination, whether you visit the park for only a few hours or for several days you will not forget the experience of visiting Arches National Park.