When you take the side trail off the main Devils Garden trail to hike to Partition Arch at Arches National Park, this side trail splits. A left takes you to Partition Arch while continuing straight will take you to Navajo Arch.
It’s really not much of an effort to visit both and it’s certainly worth doing. Although not very far apart, they give two completely different views of Arches that are each beautiful in their own way.
Much like the trail to Partition Arch, as you hike toward Navajo Arch you will reach a wall which you walk along. The main difference is that this one happens to be filled with hundreds of interesting, weather-worn holes.
As you reach Navajo Arch, the first thing you notice is a small pine growing directly under the arch:
Due to the arch’s thickness and surrounding trees, Navajo Arch has a lot more shade than other arches in Arches giving it a completely different feel:
It’s possible to walk completely through the Navajo Arch into a shady, sandy cove area that gives a completely different perspective of the arch:
This happens to be one of my favorite arches at Arches National Park simply because the feel of it is so different from many of the others arches there. It’s almost like a little oasis under the hot desert sun. Again, Navajo Arch is not one to skip if you decide to hike the entire Devils Garden trail.
After reaching Landscape Arch along the Devils Garden trail at Arches National Park, the trail becomes a lot more difficult. It isn’t anything that a fit hiker can’t do, but those with mobility issues will have trouble as there is some scrambling necessary to get up parts of the trail. Despite the difficulty of the trail from this point, it’s well worth continuing to see some other magnificent arches along the trail. The first side trail you will reach after Landscape Arch will take you to Partition Arch and Navajo Arch.
The side trail to Partition Arch has a small pine tree that has inexplicably decided to grow in the middle of the trail. Those not wanting to see it trampled have placed rocks around it to help protect it:
Not much further on you reach a rock wall to your left that you will follow until you reach Partition Arch:
At the end of the rock wall you will reach Partition Arch which will make you stop in your tracks and gawk for a bit (it’s actually fun to sit on some rocks and watch the reaction people have when they reach the arch). Partition Arch gives a beautiful window view of the landscape below with a smaller window arch to the right:
It’s a perfect place to stop for a short rest and simply bask in the beauty all around. It’s definitely one of the arches to make sure to visit if you decide to hike the entire Devils Garden trail.
Probably the most famous arch along the Devils Garden trail at Arches National Park is Landscape Arch. Unlike Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch is on the main Devils Garden trail and there is no need to take a side trail to see it (although there is a short side trail to get a bit closer to it). It’s the longest natural bridge at Arches national park and also considered to be so in the world.
While it was once possible to hike under Landscape Arch, the park service has closed the trail that once passed under it because there have been three instances since 1991 when large slabs of stone have fallen from the thinnest section of the arch. This section can easily be identified as the color under the arch is much a brighter red than other areas of the arch.
This is the goal of most people taking the Devils Garden trail. It’s 1.6 miles round trip from the trailhead to Landscape Arch and the trail is considered easy terrain. There are more (beautiful) arches beyond Landscape Arch that are definitely worth seeing, but the terrain does get significantly more difficult from this point and requires rock scrambling is some sections.
There’s an informational sign on the which says the following about the 1991 Landscape Arch rockfall:
September 1, 1991 — Hikers thought they heard cracks of thunder from distant clouds. Visitors resting under Landscape Arch noticed loud cracking and popping noises overhead. They fled as small rocks tumbled from the slender 306-foot-long span. Moments later, a 60-foot-long slab peeled away from the arch’s right side. When the dust settled, 180 tons of fresh rock debris lay scattered on the ground.
What caused this cataclysmic event? Water had been slowly shaping the arch for countless centuries, dissolving cement between sand grains, seeping into tiny cracks, freezing and expanding. What had finally upset the delicate balance?
Unseasonably heavy rains the preceding ten days may have filled pore spaces within the sandstone. The added weight may have finally overwhelmed the rock slab in its timeless struggle with gravity.
Immediately after the 1991 rockfall even, the National Park Service closed the trail which took visitors up and under the arch. The trail under the arch remains closed today.
It is a dilemma! The longer time passes without a rockfall, the more stable the rock formation may seem. On the other hand the passage of time takes Landscape Arch closer to ultimate collapse. So, in the interest of visitor safety and preservation of the landscape beneath this fabulous arch, the longer trail under the arch remains closed. Please respect this closure by staying on designated trails.
Pine Tree Arch is an arch at the end of a side trail off the Devils Garden trail at Arches National Park. This side trail leads to both Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. Pine Tree Arch is to the left where the side trail splits, and is around a bend so can’t be readily seen. It’s a relatively short and level walk to the arch from the split (the somewhat steep hill comes before the split) so it’s definitely worth going to if you have already made it to Tunnel Arch.
As would be expected, Pine Tree Arch has a pine tree in the middle of the arch as well as in various places around it. It’s a much larger arch than Tunnel Arch and you can walk under and through it unlike at Tunnel Arch:
While it really doesn’t make sense not to visit both arches once you have visited one since they are so close together, I happen to think that Pine Tree Arch is the nicer of the two. Because of its size and location to the trail, it gives an opportunity for a wider variety of photos.
The Devils Garden trail at Arches National Park is a wonderful hike that is well worth taking. It can be made into a number of different hiking levels depending on how far you want to hike, and has a number of opportunities to wander off the main trail to see various named arches. The first of these side trails leads to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. When the side trail splits, it’s a right to Tunnel Arch or a left to Pine Tree Arch. Most people choose to go right first since Tunnel Arch can be seen from the trail at the split:
Since it’s a short hike off the main Devils Garden trail, it’s worthwhile to make the trip to both Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. If, however, you are really pressed for time, these two arches aren’t quite as spectacular as several others on the trail that you certainly won’t want to miss. The viewing spot for Tunnel Arch also usually supports a crowd of people since it is the first arch on the trail and easily accessible for most (there is one slightly steep hill to reach it), so it can get overly full at times.