Spring Break: Hike Arches

Feb 11, 2010
Outside Magazine
Hike Arches

   Photo: Courtesy of NPS

Scenario: PBS Keeps Airing Ken Burns's The National Parks
Due to its proximity to Moab, Arches National Park has seen a steady increase in visitation since the eighties. This year, expect a deluge thanks to Burns's documentary. But the park is most heavily trafficked in May, meaning an early spring trip gets you uncrowded access to the 2,500-odd archways. At this time of year, Arches sees everything from temps in the seventies to light snow. But south-facing walls soak up enough sun to keep climbers comfortable in all conditions. Outfitters don't guide in the park, so rent gear in town at Pagan Mountaineering (435-259-1117) and shimmy up Owl Rock, an easy 5.8 trad route (stay on the park's main road past the visitor center and turn right by Balance Rock). Hikers: You'll find the most arches on the 7.2-mile Devil's Garden loop. Camp at one of Sand Flats Recreation Area's 120 sites, located on a high-desert plateau with views of the 11,500-foot La Sal Mountains ($10 per night; 435-259-2444).