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Must-See HAPPENINGS December 2017

Devils Garden
by Laurie Schmidt

Hiking Distance (round-trip): 1.6 miles to Landscape Arch; 4 miles to Double O Arch
Difficulty: Easy to Landscape Arch; moderate-strenuous to Double O Arch
Cautions: Steep drop-offs; some scrambling required

There’s no doubt that Delicate Arch is the iconic not-to-be-missed landmark in Arches National Park. But if your goal is to see as many arches as possible in one stop, then the Devils Garden Trail is your utopia.
Located at the end of the main road in Arches National Park, the Devils Garden is one of the most popular spots in the park. So, you’re not likely to have this trail all to yourself. But if you’re adventurous enough to venture beyond Landscape Arch (less than 1 mile from the trailhead), the crowds thin out dramatically.
Landscape Arch - Laurie Schmidt
Devils Garden Trail
Hiking all the way to the end of the trail will take you to six arches—all of which have their own unique shape and location. But even walking less than a mile from the parking lot will get you to three of these. About a quarter of a mile from the parking lot, a spur trail on the right leads to the first two arches. Descend the short hill, and Tunnel Arch comes into view on the right and slightly behind you. The left branch of the spur trail takes you to Pine Tree Arch, which is hidden from view until you’re almost in front of it. If you’re lucky enough to be here alone, stretch out on the sandstone on the other side of Pine Tree Arch for a moment of “Zen” silence.

Once you’re back on the main trail, it’s a little more than half a mile to Landscape Arch—the destination that draws most people to the Devils Garden. With a span of 306 feet, Landscape is the longest arch in the Western Hemisphere and one of the longest in the world. Since 1991, three huge chunks of sandstone have fallen from the thinnest section of the arch, so see it while you can.Navajo Arch - Laurie Schmidt

Beyond Landscape Arch the trail becomes more challenging, requiring you to walk across narrow sandstone fins. You’ll soon pass the site of what used to be Wall Arch, which collapsed in the middle of the night in August 2008 (that will give you something to ponder as you stand beneath the arches).

Less than a half mile past Landscape Arch, you’ll reach another spur trail on the left that leads to two more arches: Navajo and Partition. Plan about 30 minutes or so to see both—it’s well worth the brief diversion. Navajo Arch was named by former park superintendent Bates Wilson while building a trail. During a break, one of the Navajo workers helping him wandered around the corner and came upon the arch, so Wilson named it in honor of the Navajo people. In late afternoon you can get a nice photo looking out from inside the arch, with the leaning juniper tree in the foreground.

With an opening that spans 30 feet, Partition Arch provides a window that looks out onto the vast sandstone landscape of Devils Garden. Step through the arch and find a spot to sit, have a snack, and ponder the meaning of life. Be cautious; the sandstone slopes down steeply as you go farther to the right, and it’s a long way down.

Once you’re back on the main trail, it’s less than a mile to Double O Arch. However, if you have problems with heights you may want to think twice about continuing on, as the rest of the trail requires climbing up and along a set of narrow sandstone fins with a drop-off of about 100 feet on the right side.

Double O is actually two arches in one—a 71-foot-span arch that sits atop a smaller arch with a 20-foot opening. The best way to capture both openings in a picture is to go through the arch and photograph it from the other side. From Double O Arch you have several options: (1) you can continue .4 miles farther to Dark Angel (a 150-foot sandstone monolith), (2) you can return the same way you came on the main trail, or (3) you can take the more adventurous Primitive Trail back to the junction at Landscape Arch. Note that the Primitive Trail is called “primitive” for a reason. It is not maintained like the main trail and requires some scrambling and route-finding skills.

Getting There From Arches National Park Visitor Center:
Drive 18 miles to the end of the main park road. Be aware that even though there’s a colossal parking lot at the Devils Garden trailhead, it may still fill during the busy season (March through October).

National Park Winter Updates
.Arches National Park
The road construction project in Arches National Park, which began last March, is nearing completion. If weather remains favorable, the project is on track to be completed by early December. Road work has included resurfacing, restoring, and rehabilitating approximately 23 miles of roads and pullouts in Arches National Park.

Devils Garden Campground is currently closed and scheduled to reopen December 1. Given the nature of road construction projects, dates are subject to change.

While construction crews will make every effort to minimize disruption to visitor daytime travel and activities during this project, visitors should expect some delays and closures.

The Arches Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this winter, except for Christmas Day when it will be closed.

General information about Arches National Park can be found at or by calling 435-719-2299.

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is open all year, but the park’s visitor center operations change with the arrival of winter.
The Needles Visitor Center in Canyonlands National Park will close for the winter and will reopen in early March of 2018.
The Island in the Sky Visitor Center in Canyonlands National Park will be closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. It will close for the winter at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 31, 2017 and reopen in early March of 2018.
Law enforcement staff will remain on duty throughout the winter.

Permits are required for all overnight backcountry use. Park staff recommends that visitors wishing to stay overnight in the Island in the Sky district backcountry make advance reservations (and receive their permit two days or more before their trip) online at: Permits may also be obtained by visiting the Central Reservation Office at 2282 Resource Blvd. just south of Moab, Utah Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except federal holidays. Information about backcountry use may also be obtained by calling the Central Reservation Office at 435-259-4351.

Visitors wishing to stay overnight in The Needles district backcountry must obtain a permit from the self-registration station located on the front porch of the Needles visitor center.

Day use permits are required for vehicle and bicycle travel on the Elephant Hill Road in Needles and the White Rim Road in Island in the Sky. Permits for the Elephant Hill Road may be obtained at the self-registration station at the Needles visitor center.

Permits for the White Rim Road are only available online 24 hours in advance of travel or the day of travel. Roads may be closed at any time due to unfavorable conditions.

Visitor services (lodging, food, water, gasoline, etc.) are not available in the parks, so visitors need to be well equipped with all necessities upon arrival.

Additional information about Canyonlands National Park can be obtained from the official website at
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