Northwest of Eden is the Devil’s Garden -at least in Arches National Park. The Devil’s Garden is one of the premiere hiking spots in Arches National Park. It’s about 12 miles up the road from the Garden of Eden section of the park, and if you ask me I would take the Devils Garden over the Garden of Eden any day of the week. It is made up of hidden arches, sandstone fins and incredible rock formations.
Many people hike the Devils Garden to see Lanscape Arch, the longest spanning arch in the world at just over 306 feet. In 1991 rock broke free from the arch, prompting the park service to close off the area underneath the arch. The distance from the trail head to landscape arch is only about .8 miles over easy terrain. But if you turn around at this point you are missing most of what the Devils Garden has to offer.
Devils Garden – The Skinny
Trail head to Landscape Arch – 1.6 miles round trip over easy terrain
Trail head to Dark Angel – 5 miles round trip over moderate terrain
Trail head to Dark Angel and return via primitive loop trail – 5.9 miles over difficult terrain
A 1/4 mile down the trail you’ll come to a fork in the road. You can continue on left to Landscape Arch and the rest of the Devils Garden of you can take a slight detour to see Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. This detour only adds about a 1/2 mile to the hike and provides beautiful views of two unique arches. Tunnel Arch sits high up on a sandstone fin, while Pine Tree Arch allows you to walk right through it. This is an outback and back side trail so you will rejoin the main trail where you left it.
Another 1/2 walk down the trail is Landscape Arch. This is the most popular destination in
the Devils Garden and for good reason. The span of this arch is truly amazing. The
thinnest section of the arch is just over 6 feet thick causing Park Rangers to prompt guests to make sure they see landscape Arch before its gone.
Just pass landscape Arch the terrain becomes a little steeper and a bit more challenging. As you climb up a sandstone fin just beyond landscape arch you are confronted with the rubble that once was Wall Arch. Wall Arch was a large arch that looked quite robust and gave little warning that it was on the verge of collapse when in crumbled on August 5, 2008.
Not to far from Wall Arch is another side trail that offers side trips to Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. Partition is aptly named for the smaller Arch right next to it, making it appear as if the arch was partitioned. Through Partition you get a beautiful view of the sandstone fin maze that makes up the Devils Garden. Navajo Arch is larger than partition Arch and is sandwich between sandstone fins, providing a some cool shade for hikers on a warm day. Taking these side trails add an additional .8 miles to your hike.
Upon rejoining the main trail the terrain turns to sandstone as you climb up onto more sandstone fins. At some points it might be a little intimidating for those who are not a fan of heights, but if you can put up with it you get beautiful views of the Devils Garden, Salt Valley and the La Salle Mountains.
After hiking along the Sandstone ridge line of the Devils Garden for a bit you will come to a viewing area where you can see Dark Arch. It also provides a good view of the many sandstone fins that give the Devils Garden its maze like quality. This is a great place to take a break and admire the view before continuing on the trail
From here the trail takes a sharp left and will take you to Double O Arch. This is one of the
most unique arches in the park, and while it is prohibited to walk on any named arch, it is not uncommon to see a few people testing the arches strength by scrambling across the top. After Landscape Arch this is the most popular Arch in the Devils Garden and is the final destination of many hikers before turning back.
From Double O Arch you can hike to a rock formation known as Dark Angel which is visible from Double O Arch, follow the trail back that you came on or make a large loop back to the trailhead by taking the primitive loop trail.
The primitive loop trail of the Devils Garden is difficult terrain and should be attempted only by those who are ready for adventure. It can be somewhat difficult to navigate your way through this part of the Devil’s Garden as the trail is not well maintained. The trail weaves between, through and over sandstone fins and is marked with rock cairns. The primitive loop has much more of a maze like feel and often offers quiet solitude as few hikers choose to take this route.
Either route you take and no matter where you choose to explore in the Devils Garden, you are sure to be amazed by both the scenery and the journey itself. If you have an comments or questions feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email at DustinACook@gmail.com And don’t forget to go outside and have some fun!