Stroll beneath soaring sandstone formations topped with sculpted pinnacles, towers and spires on this short, highly scenic hike through a dramatic canyon in Arches National Park.
This hike begins at the Park Avenue viewpoint and trailhead, located on the north side of the Arches Scenic Drive, 2.3 miles from the visitor center (see driving directions below). A paved path leads from the parking area to the viewpoint (0.1-miles). Here you have a birds-eye view of the massive fins, soaring monoliths and balanced rocks lining the scenic canyon.
When you are done enjoying the views, follow the stone steps dropping down to the canyon floor and then continue along a boot beaten dirt path that gently descends the wash. As you progress the dirt path gives way to slickrock and sand, marked with rock cairns. Huge sandstone formation topped with towers, spires and other-worldly rock formation tower above the trail. Closer-at hand, Junipers, sage and Mormon tea grow amid the rocky landscape.
Early on you will pass beneath a formation called Queen Nefertiti, a sculpted rock formation atop the west wall that looks like the profile of an Egyptian Queen. Sheer cliffs capped with fins soar above the east side of the canyon.
At 0.3-miles and 0.4-miles pass the openings for the two short side canyons along the west side of the valley. Each is bounded with photogenic rock formations topped by spires, balanced rock, towers and knobs.
As you progress through the wash views open to Argon Tower, a 270-ft. tower at the end of the west wall, and the Organ, rising above the east side of the Scenic Drive. Near the end of the hike the Three Gossips, a striking 350-ft tall tower with three summits sitting atop a sandstone pedestal, joins the scene. The summits of the tower, located to the west, look like figures with heads turned toward each other exchanging news. Other notable formations include Sheep Rock, to the northwest, and the Tower of Babel, located to the north.
Walk as far as time and energy allow. Even a short walk down the canyon is very worthwhile.
The trail ends at the Courthouse Towers viewpoint along the Scenic Drive, 0.9 miles from the Park Avenue Viewpoint. Unless you have a second car waiting, turn around and retrace your steps for a 1.8-mile round trip hike.
From Moab, UT: From Center Street and Main Street/US 191 in Moab, head north on Main Street/US 191 N for 4.6 miles and then turn right on the Arches Entrance Road. Pass thru the kiosk where you pay your entrance fee. A short distance beyond the kiosk is the right turn for the Visitor Center (0.7 miles from the entrance). The Visitor Center is a good place to see exhibits on the park, obtain information and check on current conditions.
Beyond the Visitor Center follow the road, now called the Arches Scenic Drive, for 2.3 miles to the Park Avenue Overlook and trailhead located on the left (north) side of the road. The end of the trail is at the Courthouse Towers view, located along the Scenic Drive, 3.7 miles from the Visitor Center.
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