Get Lost in the Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park

Fiery Furnace Trailhead

Trailhead for the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park

It is easy to lose yourself both metaphorically and literally in the Fiery Furnace.  This hike through canyon coves, rock spires and natural arches is a challenge to navigate, but offers an experience like few places in the world.  The natural beauty and unique formations within the Fiery Furnace make it a must do hike for anyone visiting Arches National Park.  You’ll be amazed and inspired as you crawl through natural arches, climb between great rock spires and squeeze your way through mini slot canyons.

Ascending Sandstone Spires to the upper section of the Fiery Furnace

Ascending sandstone spires to the upper section of the Fiery Furnac

The Skinny

The Fiery Furnace located in Arches National Park, near Moab Utah

Trail Head:  11.7 miles from the park entrance (N 38 44.596′ W 109 33.949′)

Distance: 3-4 miles depending on route

Elevation: gain/loss of 200ft

Difficulty:  moderate

Finding Your Way

Finding your way in the Fiery Furnace is not an easy task.  To help visitors safely experience this unique area, the park service offers ranger lead tours for a small fee of $10 per person.  There are typically two tours per day, usually at 10am and 2pm.  The Fiery Furnace hike is quite popular so it is recommended that you

Sandstone Spires in the Fiery Furnace

Finding your way among the sandstone spires can be a challenge

make reservations in advance by going on line at http://www.recreation.gov/tourParkDetail.do?parkId=93768&contractCode=NRSO Reservations can be made online March through October.

Hikers can explore the canyon for themselves after obtaining a permit from the visitor center.  However, if you have never been in the Fiery Furnace before I don’t recommend going in alone, as it can be very disorienting if you are not familiar with the area.  A good map and a GPS is recommended if you explore the Fiery Furnace alone.  In this post I have included a number of GPS coordinates to help in navigating the area.  See a full list of these waypoints as the bottom of this article.

What is there to see in the Fiery Furnace?

There are plenty of arches, rock formations, spires and scenic views in the fiery furnace.  Here are just a handful of the inspiring sights in the Fiery Furnace

Walk Through Arch in the Fiery Furnace

Take a Walk through Walk Through Arch to get a view of Crawl Through Arch

Walk Through Arch

GPS Coordinates: N 38 44.604′ W 109 33.669′

Just a 1/4 mile walk into the fiery furnace and you will find Walk Trough Arch.  Walk Through Arch is aptly named because you can walk right through it.  In this same area is Crawl Through Arch, an arch that you can crawl through.  This part of the Fiery Furnace is cooler as it is shaded by sandstone cliffs on three sides.  After exploring this area you turn around and follow the same trail you followed in, as there is no outlet from this area.

Center Ampitheatre

GPS Coordinates:  N 38 44.559′ , W 109 33.631′

There are several ampitheatres that open up amidst the rock spires of the fiery furnace, but

Rock spires looking in the Center Ampitheatre in the Fiery Furnace - Arches National Park

Rock Spires surround the Center Ampitheatre of the Fiery Furnace

the one I find to be the most beautiful and inspiring is what I call Center Ampitheatre.  Even though it doesn’t have an official name, center Ampitheatre lies at a cross roads of the fiery furnace.  From hear you can visit many different parts of the Furnace and it is hear that you begin to ascend to the upper rockier portion of the Fiery Furnace leaving the sandy washes of the Furnace behind.  This ampitheatre is bounded by rock spires on one side and sandstone cliffs on the other which provide enough shade to allow some desert plants to flourish amidst the dry desert climate.

Skull Arch

GPS Coordinates:  N 38 44.693, W 109 33.620

Skull Arch located in the Fiery Furnace

Aptly named skull Arch looks down on its visitors below

Not far from the Center Ampitheatre is Skull Arch.  As you walk into this sandstone cove the first thing you notice is a deep pot hole filled with water on your right.  Only after stepping a little farther into the cove and looking to your left do you notice a double arch formation named Skull Arch.  These arches were formed by potholes, much like the one at the entrance to the cove, that over thousands of years wore away the rock to sculpt this memorable arch.

Kissing Turtles Arch

GPS Coordinates N 38 44.696′ W 109 33.678′

Altough technically not an arch, this formation has come to be known as the Kissing

Kissing Turtles Arch in the Fiery Furnace - Arches National Park

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see why its called Kissing Turtles Arch

Turtles Arch.  It takes only a little bit of an imagination to see why.  It is technically not an arch because the formation is divided at the very top.  This formation is located in the upper section of the Fiery Furnace as you scramble over sandstone pathways.

Surprise Arch

GPS Coordinates N 38 44.861′ W 109 33.880′

Surprise Arch in the Fiery Furnace Arches National Park

Hovering above a secluded grotto spans Surprise Arch

Near the exit of the Fiery Furnace is one of the more stunning formations Surprise Arch.  This arch hangs above an isolated sandstone grotto high up in the Fiery Furnace.  Rumor has it that the arch got its name by an expedition that camped in the grotto at night and in the morning were surprised to find they had slept underneath one of the largest arches in the Furnace.  This isolated and rugged arch is a must see for any venture into the Fiery Furnace.

What to Take Into the Fiery Furnace

Make sure to bring good shoes, plenty of water, especially in the summer time, and some snacks.  If you are going in without a guide make sure to bring a map and/or GPS.  In the Spring or Fall, it is also a good idea to take a jacket as it can get quite cool in the lower parts of the Furnace that don’t get a lot of sun.

GPS Route

Here is a list of GPS way points for the Furnace that follow the tour given by the National Park Service.  While this is not a comprehensive route for the Furnace, nor a guarantee you won’t get lost, it might provide some assistance in navigating your way through the Furnace.  All coordinates are in WGS 84 ddd mm.mmm’

  1. Fiery Furnace Parking Lot – N 38 44.596′  W 109 33.949′

    Narrow Slots in the Fiery Furnace - Arches National Park Moab Utah

    Narrow crevices in the Fiery Furnace lead to majestic arches and dead end grottos

  2. Lower Wash – N 38 44.537′ W 109 33.828′  Distance .13 mi
  3. Let Turn Toward Walk Through Arch – N 38 44.581′ W 109 33.762′  Distance 412 ft
  4. Walk Through Arch – N 38 44.604′ W 109 33.669′  Distance 463 ft
  5. Centre Ampitheatre – N 38 44.559 W 109 33.631′  Distance 334 ft
  6. Skull Arch – N 38 44.693′ W 109 33.620′ Distance .16 mi
  7. Spot requiring a small jump N 38 44.598′ W 109 33.630′ Distance .11 mi
  8. Spot where you slide through a crevice N 38 44.681′ W 109 33.670′ Distance .10 mi
  9. Kissing Turtle Arch N 38 44.696′ W 109 33.678′  Distance 97 ft
  10. Squeeze through another crevice N 38 44.706′ W 109 33.752′ Distance 354 ft
  11. Surprise Arch N 38 44.861′ W 109 33.880′  Distance .21 mi
  12. Descending Stairs (the way out) N 38 44.768′ W 109 33.837′  Distance .11 mi
  13. Exit, End of the trail N 38 44.651′ W 109 33.922′  Distance .16 mi

That’s all for now.  If you go to Arches National Park, exploring the Fiery Furnace is a must.  You’ll be glad you did.  Feel free to leave any of your own comments about this hike or to ask any questions… And don’t forget to get outside and have some fun!

About Dustin

Healthcare professional by day, Outdoor adventurer on the evenings and weekends.
This entry was posted in Beautiful Places, Hiking Utah, Moab, National Parks and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Get Lost in the Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park

  1. Pingback: Tag 10 – Moab (22.09.2011 – USA Nationalpark-Tour 2011) « Afrofrosch's Space

  2. Bob Nydegger says:

    Thanks for the description and GPS points of the Furnace. With your info and a few pictures, we were able to make it through. During our trip and others, I have made a GPS track on Garmin hardware that is pretty darn accurate. For reciprocation purposes, if you would like to have it, email me at bobnydegger@comcast.net.

  3. C says:

    Fantastic !! Thank you! With the GPS points and descriptions we were able to find our way for the most part !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *