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Touring Natural Arches Outside Arches National Park

May 29, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Print Print Email Email

See arches located outside of the park.

Like sightseeing by vehicle on pavement? Close to Moab are Little Arch and Jug Handle Arch on Scenic Byway/Hwy 279.


Make a day trip to the Needles District of Canyonlands. During the drive south of Moab on Hwy 191 catch Looking Glass arch on Looking Glass Road, a passable 2 mile dirt road 23 miles south of Moab. Or sticking to the pavement, 26 miles south on Hwy 191 is the huge Wilson Arch, a road side phenomenon. Wilson Arch measures 46 feet high and 91 feet wide. While heading to the Needles District of Canyonlands, watch for Lopez Arch (more of a button hole) off to the east. Once on Hwy 211 Wooden Shoe Arch will be on the southern horizon along the way and you will instantly know why it got that name. Always carry food and ample water for sightseeing in the desert canyon country.

Feel like hiking to an arch? Two hikes are found off of Hwy 279. Corona Arch has other arches along the way, like Bowtie and Pinto Arches. Longbow Arch is a less established hike from the Poison Spider Trail parking also along Hwy 279.  Another hike north of Moab is a mile walk up the South Fork of Seven Mile Canyon to Streak Arch. Where else to go: Negro Bill Canyon on Hwy 128 has a stream flowing there, so wear your shoes that can get wet. Hunter Canyon is off of Kane Creek Road, where pavement turns into a two wheel drive dirt road, although there is a switch back and creek crossing that should be considered for clearance. The arch is about a half mile from the parking lot. In the spring water may be flowing in Hunter Canyon. No mountain bikes are allowed on these hiking trails.

About biking: 

Road cycling on Scenic Byway 313 is popular. The wide shoulders on this stretch of pavement are appreciated. Pedaling into the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park the road narrows significantly. From the Visitor Center to Mesa Arch is 6 miles. Mesa Arch is a .5 mile hike to an arch situated on the edge of a precipice. Returning to Moab, watch the distant skyline. You are peering into Arches National Park. The windows section makes a spectacle of their self.

Mountain Biking to Musselman Arch in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park could require a free day use permit. The ISKY visitor center will issue those permits. Ideally, hire a shuttle to the Island in the Sky, ride down the Shafer Trail out to Musselman Arch. Make it an epic 49 mile ride back to town via Hwy 279.

Pritchett Bridge can be a fantastic mountain bike ride. The 4×4 road is treacherous even for skilled 4wd drivers, it is navigable by bike. It costs $2 to cross private land from Kane Creek Rd. Pedal 4.2 miles to view Pritchett and Halls Bridges. Or approach Pritchett from the Behind the Rocks trail system. From this direction you will cover 22 miles and should find a directional ‘Pritchett’ post at every intersection.

Doing some 4 wheeling? A backcountry map will either name or indicate a Natural Arch to be found along a myriad of trails. Ample 4WD rentals are available to travel the dirt roads. Make reservations. There are tour companies who will drive ahead and lead visitors to these spots too. Visit the Moab Information Center for maps and use www.discovermoab.com for bike or 4×4 rentals and tours. More information is a phone call away too, 435-259-8825.

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