The best hike in Arches National Park is the Devil’s Garden Trail. The trailhead is at the end of the paved road. By hiking the main trail, we can see 7 listed/well-known arches and a few others with some further exploration. By adding the Primitive Trail we can hike an 11.5 km loop. This is busy trail at prime time so an early start means a parking spot and less people on the trail.
Along the route we spotted a group of small mule deer in the sand dunes.
The main point of interest along the trail is Landscape Arch. It is one of the longest natural spans in the world at 306 feet, but it is only 11 feet thick at its narrowest point. In our previous visit to the area, we hiked up to peer down through the arch.
From Landscape arch, the trail climbs through the fins, ramps, and slot canyons. Another side trail leads over to 2 arches worth the extra mileage – Navajo Arch and Partition Arch.
With some scrambling across the steep slickrock it is possible to get to a spot to look down through Landscape Arch.
The route crosses some high fins and stays high with wider views of the fins and dunes of Arches. We could spot Dark Arch in one of the fins to the east.
The end of the main trail is at Double O Arch, a good place for lunch.
Last time we were here a group decided to ear their lunches inside the arch, making it awkward to take photos. Experienced hikers in arches country know to sit away from the arches.
From Double O Arch, one trail goes out and back to the Dark Angel, a large spire on a hilltop. The other trail is the Primitive Trail which provides a loop route through the fins and sand dunes back to the trailhead. Along the route are more arches and some scrambled across slickrock. With a little bit of curiosity and time more arches can be spotted and all of the fins invite us to explore around the corners.
On the slopes above is an unnamed arch, accessed by scrambling up the rock.
The final section of the 7.2 mile hike is across the sand dunes and low hills. There are few trails that have so many points of interest along the route. On top of that, the trail is cleverly designed to include routes up ramps, along fins and ridges, through slot canyons, and across hilltops to viewpoints. It rivals the Fairyland Trail in Bryce National Park for such a pleasing and rewarding route.