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rotten popcorn flick - killer self guided tour
The Fiery Furnace is a maze of sandstone walls, spires, boulders and cracks that offers a fun and challenging (both for the body and the mind) "hike" to people of most ages. We say "hike" because, while there is traditional hiking involved, there's also a lot of scrambling over slickrock, shimmying through narrow passages, and some Class III moves.
To enter the Fiery Furnace you will need to obtain a permit for a nominal fee and watch a 10-minute movie. Please check with Arches National Park in advance to understand all the latest details.
In 2016 the park service installed on the rock numerous, small white arrows to guide you through the maze. This is the same path that the park rangers use on the guided tours. There are just enough arrows to prevent you from getting too terribly lost, but not enough to make this a walk in the park. It's easy to breeze right past one of the arrows as they often blend into the sandstone given that the background color of the arrow is brown. You'll likely find yourself back-tracking to the last arrow that you saw and wondering how in the world you got off course. Of course you're allowed to explore the myriad "fingers" of the labyrinth, but it's very important to pay attention to each turn and the rock features so that you can find your way out. I confirmed that there is not a "sweep" of the maze by park rangers at the end of the day. Furthermore, while the walls aren't so high that there is no line of sight to a satellite, a GPS is generally useless in the Furnace. Because of this you might want to do this hike earlier in the day, especially in the winter when the days are shorter.
One thing about the movie...We felt it was misleading in that there wasn't much footage concerning the physical ability required to navigate the "obstacles". In fact, we thought the movie could easily cause people to believe that the hike is along semi-narrow, shaded, sandy floors with plenty of time for quiet reflection and fauna-spotting. This is not to say that the maze was very taxing physically, but folks should be aware of the challenges ahead and decide in advance if they're up for the task.
All in all, it's a fun hike and certainly different from most others in Arches.
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Arches NP NPS Details