Arches National Park lies just north of Moab, Utah and teh vast majority of visitors drive to the Park Entrance, just 4 km north of the Colorado River. It is possible to hike right from the river up an informal trail into the park, via Courthouse Wash. To hike all the way to the Park Drive near the Tower of Babel is about 7 km one way. Most hikers hike up the canyon for a few kilometers then return by the same route or do a one-way hike using 2 vehicles. We went about 5 km each way for a 3 hour hike on a warm day.
We spotted a number of lizards and some large cat prints. The tracks were fresh mountain lion tracks, part of the cat’s circuit, hunting wildlife down at the water holes of the wash.
There are some side canyons to explore, one of which goes up into the remote Petrified Dunes area. For most of the hike the sides are too steep to climb, but there are lots of opportunities to explore all the way up and back, given enough time.
The original images date back to the Barrier Rock Art style(1500 to 4000 years old), similar to the Great Gallery of Horseshoe Canton. Subsequent images were added by Ancestral Puebloans (800 to 1000 years old) and Utes (500 years old) over many centuries. The panels are being restored after vandalism in 1980. We found this to be harder hike with many sections on sand, rough rock, scrambling past obstacles, and slow progress on a winding faint single track. A point-to-point hike from the start in Arches National Park down the canyon and the wash to the Colorado River over 5.5 miles (9 km) would be the best choice.