Devil's Garden – primitive loop

A 6 mile hike passing some of the world’s greatest arches.

★★★★

Wow factor

★★★★

Overall rating

★★★

Difficulty

★★★★★

Access road

★★

Crowds

You’ll see more arches on this hike than any other and that means you certainly won’t be alone. In fact the trailhead for Devil’s Garden may be the busiest in the park and you may have to drive around to find a slot. Hordes of tourists will walk the first section of paved trail past a couple of arches to spectacular Landscape Arch, the longest in the world and 1 mile from the start. Most people turn around here as the trail becomes a little rougher, though still easy, all the way to Double O Arch and beyond to the Dark Angel monolith. It’s here that you can also take the well-signed and much rougher Primitive Trail as an alternative way of getting to Double O Arch. Personally, I think that trail is best hiked in the reverse direction from Double O Arch as the best views are always in front of you.

 

With that in mind continue straight on from Landscape Arch and enjoy fewer people on the trail. You’ll walk on top of giant sandstone fins and pass another couple of arches before arriving at Double O after another mile. You’ll notice just how much quieter it is here than at the Landscape Arch viewpoint. The double arches here are very picturesque. Continue on to see Dark Angel pillar if you have the time. This will add nearly 1 mile to your hike.

 

For your return journey, take the well-marked Primitive Trail close to Double O. You’ll see a few other hikers here but not many. The sign says ‘Difficult Hiking’ and in the wet, or with inappropriate footwear, it would be as parts of the trail are on slickrock slopes with steep drop offs. The trail drops in elevation and the scenery is magnificent as you weave through the imposing fins. (For a good idea of the terrain you’ll be hiking look down and to the right when you’re walking across a long fin on the way to Double O.) When you’re not on the slickrock you’re likely to be in a sandy wash. There’s little shade so do try to do the loop in the morning or early evening. There’s one arch to visit along the way but that’s not the reason this trail section is a favourite among the locals – it’s the solitude amongst the tourist hordes coupled with the stunning scenery. After about 2 miles the trail gradually ascends to the main paved trail by Landscape Arch.

© 2015-2020 Bob Palmer.