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Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP, UT

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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,234 feet
Elevation Gain 450 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13
Backpack No
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7  2018-06-01 KBKB
10  2017-03-03 John9L
15  2016-05-18
Arches National Park
23  2016-04-20
Arches National Park Trails
18  2015-01-16 sirena
5  2014-12-27 Lucyan
14  2014-09-26 AZWanderingBear
23  2014-06-05 Stoic
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Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Apr, May → Any
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:59am - 6:28pm
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0 Alternative
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by nonot

Overview: A true loop with many spur options, this is found at the northwest corner of Arches National Park.

Warning: This is a desert hike and can take several hours so bring plenty of water. If it rains the east half of this trail could be difficult due to climbing sections of slickrock slopes which you wouldn't want to do when they are wet.

Hike: Drive to the trailhead and park in one area of the immense lot. From the restrooms and trailsigns there is only one entrance path. The first third of a mile or so is mostly paved for wheelchair access and leads to landscape arch. Only 1000 feet in there is a short trail on your right, take this to look at pine tree arch and tunnel arch. Return to the main trail and admire landscape arch.

That's the easy part and you could return to your car having hiked less than a mile total. However, since you've gone this far, you'll probably want to take the primitive trail which adds a little over 4 miles, which can grow to about 7 if you exercise all the spur options.

Assuming from landscape arch you continue a steep hike/climb north at the primitive trail sign, you will be doing the loop clockwise as follows.

After a thousand feet, a spur branches off the the west. Take the spur and it splits again. The first spur to your left goes to partition arch, the other to Navajo arch, each are about 800 feet each way. Return to the primitive trail.

Continue climbing, follow the ridge of slickrock. Where you get cliffed out look for some carved out steps in the slickrock below you on the west side. After about a mile of hiking you will reach the double o arch area. It is located over the ridge to your west. Descend through the ridge on the cairned path. You can also from this point take the spur trail directly to the base of double o arches and further on to dark angel rock, a blackened hoodoo about a third of a mile each way. Return to the primitive trail.

Continue north through the boulders until you notice the top story window through a fin to your north. Here you will notice a signed spur for fragile arch, which goes southeast for about 1200 feet each way. Return to the primitive loop trail. Continue northeast and then southeast. This is by far the most difficult section as there are some steep climbs over some slickrock slopes. Finally you will reach the sandy area and slog around the rest of the loop another 2 miles until you arrive back at landscape arch. Return the mostly paved path southeast to your car

Exercising all of the spurs will net you 8 miles total. Other than the sand the hiking is fairly easy although if you have an extreme fear of heights you may have trouble in sections.

Water sources: none, except for some muddy spots

Camping: none allowed in Arches

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-06-11 nonot
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Devil's Garden Primitive Loop is one of our favorite hikes in the Moab area - we do it almost every time we visit the area.

    This year I decided to take all of the side trips along the loop. After taking the short side trip for photographing Landscape Arch, I continued around the loop and went to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch. Continuing the loop again, we went to Black Arch and then Double O Arch.

    I then hiked to Dark Angel. If you're going to skip a side trip, this is the one to skip. While I did hike all the way to Dark Angel and then hiked up some nearby fins to find a favorable vantage point from which to photograph it, I ended up using a shot that I took on the trail where Dark Angel is framed by a pair of trees. You might do just as well to photograph it with a long lens from the Double O area.

    Continuing on, I split off again and took shots of Private Arch from both sides.

    Finally, towards the end of the hike, I went to see Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch, something I had not done in many years. Pine Tree Arch was more interesting than I had remembered.

    This is a good hike, though it's always sort of busy.
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was the main hike of the day and well worth the effort. We headed in and skipped the side hike to Tunnel Arch & Pine Tree Arch. We would hit them on the hike out. Landscape Arch came into view and we started our lasso loop opting for a counter clockwise loop.

    The going is fairly easy as you follow a defined trail that drops down and makes a loop. We detoured over to Private Arch and took a short break. From there we continued and detoured over to Dark Angel. Both are cool geological features worth exploring. From the trail junction near Double O Arch we started our return. Along the way we stopped to check out Navajo Arch, which was my favorite, and Partition Arch. We continued our return and took the side trip to Pine Tree Arch & Tunnel Arch. We arrived back to the TH around mid-afternoon.

    This is an excellent loop that has a handful of amazing arches and wonderful scenery. The loop is great but not necessary to see the best arches like Navajo & Double O. After this hike we drove around the rest of the park seeing Skyline Arch & Double Arch. Great trip to Arches!
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Arches National Park
    Started the day at Devil's Garden Primitive Loop. The primitive loop is probably the only place on the park's established trails where you'll encounter the least amount of people. I did the loop counter clockwise. Once you're about 2 miles into the loop the fun really starts as the trail fades and you begin climbing up, down, and around giant sandstone rocks through a series of washes. The trail has an ample amount of cairns, but there were still a few times I found myself questioning if I was going the right way, or having to back track to the last cairn to look for the next one.

    I met a group of 3 girls from Florida near Double-O Arch who had backpacked/camped and it piqued my interest in possibly spending a night back there sometime. I hiked with them the rest of the way back and enjoyed the company. My favorite part of this trail is just after Double-O Arch where you climb up on top of a ~4ft-wide giant "rock fin" which you then walk across for about 100 yards. From here you get outstanding views of the park!

    Next I hit up Broken Arch Loop. There are a few arches which are neat along this loop, but other than that it is rather uneventful.

    Lastly, I hit up the one place I knew for certain was going to have swarms of people, Delicate Arch. The hike to the Arch was actually a little more difficult than I had anticipated. It's by no means "strenuous" but it definitely fits into the moderate category.

    Once I reached the Arch I encountered about 50 other people. I really wanted to get a picture of the Arch without any people in it, so I preceded to wait about 30 minutes while everybody and their sister just had to stand right under the arch to get a picture of themselves in various annoying poses. I saw handstands, flexing, "sexy poses", and "hands raised up like we just don't care!" Some people even chose to loiter around RIGHT NEXT to the Arch even though they were't getting their picture taken. I noticed I was't the only one who was becoming increasingly frustrated with the shit (crap) show, and I nearly gave up.
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    have wanted to visit arches national park for years, since sue and i made a road trip to the north rim, zion and bryce back in 2009
    couldn't figure out how to fit all five parks in one trip back then
    picked arches and canyonlands for this one
    a little crowded but the beauty outweighs that, especially for a one day visit
    we benefited by the free entry week celebrating 100 years of national parks
    hiked several trails and saw a lot of arches ;)
    started with devil's garden, taking in every possible side trip out to dark angel
    chose not to return on the primitive loop, as we had more to hike and sue is still recovering from a fall at work that broke her radius in two places and required surgery to install some hardware
    made scrambling a little difficult for her
    hiking on and over the rock fins was fun, and we were able to get in or under almost every arch
    most people stop after landscape arch, so it really wasn't crowded
    stopped near sand dune arch for a picnic and walked through the sand to see it
    also saw broken arch and skyline arch nearby
    drove over to delicate arch and joined the conga line heading up the trail
    fun hike, but saw several people who maybe shouldn't have been up there mid-afternoon
    we ended up giving out water away to some who needed it more - i don't normally do that, but maybe a once-in-a-lifetime experience to the unprepared?
    delicate arch was pretty cool to see, and i even got a photo without anyone else in it
    a bus load of schoolkids viewing the arch, but well behaved and one took a photo for us
    stopped by the glyphs and cabin on the way down
    drove over to the windows section next, and hiked up to the four main arches there
    stopped by courthouse butte overlook on the way out of the park for some fantastic views
    felt we got a good representation of hikes for one day, and still a few things to see if i ever make it back
    had dinner at miguel's, then did some shopping at gearhead's
    another visit to moab coffee roasters, staying in moab again
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    First hike of what would turn out to be a really fun day in Arches. We hit the trailhead pretty early since it was going to be an unseasonably warm day. The trailhead parking lot was already crowded, but the folks on the trail thinned out quickly as we headed out.

    Landscape Arch was great. Took a peak at Partition Arch. Navajo Arch is a little jewel. It was the first one we could walk under, touch, explore. The trail took us along the top of some of the fins making the hiking part of the hike interesting and fun.

    Double O Arch was fun to explore. Tried to take some fun photos. We took the spur over to Dark Angel. We'd thought to do the primitive trail back to turn it into a lollipop, but a huge group appreared suddenly and we decided the primary trail was looking better since we had lots of other plans for the day.

    Stopped off by Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches. Lots more folks on the trail as we got close to the trailhead. Was getting warm, so we had some cool drinks and a snack. Devil's Garden had started us out right.
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Our trek through Utah continues. I have no idea how to capture this other than to stick it here. On the way from Bryce to Moab we decided to drive on Rt 12 to Rt 24 and then up to the main highway, maybe 70?. Would NEVER want to do this in the Winter!!! :scared:

    I HIGHLY recommend this driving route to ANYONE. It added about maybe an hour to the trip but it was CRAZY worth it. The views, the desolation and the drive were stunning. At one point we were at almost 11,000 feet - driving thru a winding road of a forest. Then we began descending - but not until we drove on a knife edge ridge for quite awhile with no guardrails to protect you from veering off the road and several hundred feet to a certain death - just too cool. Ansel even said I was more worried driving that road than I was going up and down Angels landing with all the crazies! Just an awesome drive.

    We pulled into Arches early - stopped at Fiery Furnace to gaze upon it and then headed over to the Devils loop - managed to see 8 natural arches - 7 up close and the Dark Angel spire rising out of the desert. We were treated with 2 people ascending the spire so we stopped and had a bite while watching them.....better than TV by far!

    Even though it was early there were loads of people out and about - most of the Arches we were the only people there but they must have been following us!! Because they would gather round once we stopped to take pixs. At each Arch we wandered around a bit exploring the area. The sun was full on and it felt awesome - we had plenty of water and the hike was short so I wasn't worried. What did worry me was the amount of parents dragging totally uninterested small children around - we saw a few near misses of kids almost tumbling off a ridge. Not too cool parents! [-X

    About 1/4 of the hike was through sand and the remaining was either rock or slick rock. About 1/2 way to Dark Angel there was a decent fun section of slightly exposed slick rock - had some peeps turning around but really wasn't anything too crazy. - took the primitive route back after we went out to Dark Angel.

    A fun lil hike with a bit o slip rock included!
    Devil's Garden - Primitive Loop - Arches NP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Our short touristy hike to Double Arch, The Windows and Turret Arch two days ago simply whet our appetite for more Arches, so after a Canyonlands hike in between we returned for the longest hike in Arches National Park, the Devils Garden Primitive Loop, which by necessity returns via the Double O Trail.

    We were a bit slow getting moving this morning so by time we made the 70 miles from the cabin we were staying, we were lucky to get a parking spot at the trail-head, with barely a half-dozen spots open. We hit the trail right away but the crowds were already forming so we kept a good pace. We were about to turn onto the Primitive Trail but off to the left I caught a glimpse of Landscape Arch, and thinking people would soon be all over it we took a short jaunt out the Double O Trail to take some photos. It turns out after one section of the arch had fallen people are no longer allowed any closer than the trail itself so our view was unfettered. Then looking up the trail we saw the hordes of people on the first fin so decided to go back to the intersection and head on out the Primitive Trail first and return via the Double O.

    The first half mile of the Primitive Trail gave us a surprise with the flat silty-sand trail because the park brochure warned us to expect narrow ledges and slick-rock scrambling. Ah yes, that will come soon enough, but first we make an easy descent toward Black Canyon and follow the creek bed for a while. As the walls closed in we got the sense we would be forced to climb soon.

    The first climb was very easy and we were soon back in the sandy wash. Then we come around a corner and are faced with a bowl with a small pool of water maybe 2-3' deep. It appeared someone had already attempted to skirt around the pool but had fallen in with a big splash so with a steep wall on the left I cast my eyes up the slope to the right. It was easy enough to climb the slick-rock but it looked too steep down the other side. So I dropped back down and took another look at the pool. There were two large driftwood logs in it so I figured I'd check to see how stable they were. I got just over halfway around the less-steep side and the log started to move away from me. As I began to slide toward the water it was all I could do to make a quick hop back and just get the soles of my shoes wet. Dang! Wet sand on the soles is going to make things more difficult now.

    By this time a few more hikers had arrived and it became a group effort to figure this out. By getting as far around the pool as I did, I got a side view of the slope I had first thought was too steep and realized it wasn't that bad. So after walking around on dry sand enough to clean off my soles, I scaled the easy part of the slick-rock and started down the other side, sliding on my butt. About 6 feet from the bottom I saw soft sand and just ran down the rest of the way, which worked out great. As well as it worked for me, none of the others were about to duplicate it, so it took some time for the rest to slowly slide down. A younger couple quickly made tracks while Tracey and I followed with a Park Ranger and an older guy we thought was hiking with her.

    A little more easy cruising then began the climbs, the first being quite simple. When we came to the second one we were faced with a hundred foot walk/climb along a half-shoe width ledge before having to change direction and climb the same distance above the first section. The older guy didn't waste a moment before saying nope, I'm turning back! I wasn't too sure myself and hesitated but Tracey was not about to turn around so I just got on with it and realized it was over with so fast I didn't have time to be scared. That's when I realized the guy was going to have much more trouble climbing the other direction past the pool of water than this climb and thought, good luck!

    Now that the guy had turned back we realized the Ranger hadn't been hiking with him, she was just taking the loop on her first day back after the shutdown. And so the rest of the hike we had our own very knowledgeable tour guide who showed us things not listed on any of the informational park brochures. See the photoset for the goodies.

    When we reached Dark Angel an overweight man & his ~8 year old daughter arrived as well and asked if we had seen a group of Boy Scouts. The agreed meeting point was Dark Angel and they had been ahead of him. Oh well, we set off on the return trip and moments later a hiker came up to the ranger and said he was probably going to make her day more difficult and told her someone in the group of Boy Scouts had a bad ankle sprain. Although this ranger basically gave tours and informational talks to grade-school children and did not have First Aid supplies, we took off to see if we could help.

    Just on the other side of Double O Arch the ranger located, wouldn't you know it, not a Boy Scout but one of the three leaders. By this time another hiker with some knowledge of sprains had already got his ankle wrapped, but upon attempting to stand the guy got light-headed, so it was obvious he wasn't going to be hobbling far without real help. That's when the overweight guy showed up, and since he sold orthotics and happened to be wearing one as a preventive for a weak ankle, he gave it to the other guy to put on. That's when I realized of the three leaders we really only had one who seemed fit and qualified to deal with not only the situation, but now we have a group of young boys milling around with no common goal (reaching Dark Angel), plenty of energy, fit to be tied and simply ready to find whatever trouble they could to stay occupied.

    Anyway, the Ranger got out her radio but being in a low spot she told them she would climb up on the fin (which was part of the return trail) to make a connection. Whether it was battery issues or what, she didn't know but trying both batteries she had it did no good so she tried her cell but no joy there either. Although I had not been carrying my cell phone on any of our hikes, for some reason I dropped it into the bottom of my pack that morning. So I dug it out and what do you know, I had a good signal. I figured it was due to I-70 being in our line-of-sight and probably cell towers somewhere along the highway.

    So I gave it to the Ranger to call the Park office. It took some time to get through, but it wasn't who she needed to contact so asked them to call that person and have him call her back. To make a long story short, suffice to say it took 45 minutes to make contact and be assured somebody would be coming to assist, although we had no idea in what way they would. Since the Ranger was already over her allotted hours for the day she continued on back with us. About a mile from the trail-head we met two Rangers with a pair of rubber tipped crutches. Hmmm, they were about to have some fun helping the guy hobble up and down the fins.
    Oh well, by then it was none of my concern.

    [Rant]However, it just brought to mind that over the last 11 years since I moved to AZ there has not been one single occasion where I encountered Boy Scouts where most of all of the leaders simply had no clue what being a scout leader entails. I saw incompetence, ignorance, little if any First Aid equipment or knowledge, no clue how to deal with energetic young boys and in a few cases, practically gave up when they couldn't figure out how to deal with a situation. One time after helping pull their vehicle up from where it was to drop down 50+ feet, what does the guy do but drive it off again 100 yards later... At that point, having already wasted an hour we simply drove off to let them figure it out on their own.[/Rant Over]
    I guess I'm old enough that back in my day our leaders were very experienced and well qualified. I suppose they don't have that any more so it reverts back to, ok, this parent hasn't helped out in a long time so it's his turn. (And that's whether they are qualified or not)

    We had a great time with the Ranger and when we found out she had relatives in the Valley and comes down from time to time we exchanged information and offered to be her guide when in town.

    Again I posted just 40 photos here on HAZ.
    Full set of 121 hike photos:
    Devils Garden video:

    Permit $$

    Arches National Park
    Vehicles: $10 (Good for 7 days) Fee Information

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Devil's Garden Trailhead
    Arches National Park is located about 3 miles north of Moab Utah on highway 191. The entrance is on the east side of the highway about 1 mile past the bridge over the colorado river. If coming south from highway 70 it is about 27 miles to Arches. Once in arches follow the main road. Where it splits turn left at the road signs to the Devil's Garden Trailhead. Don't turn into the campground area.

    From SLC (I-15 & I-80) - 250mi 4h 50m
    From St George (I-15 & Bluff) - 335mi 5h 55m
    From Moab (Main & Center) - 22.9mi 0h 52m
    page created by nonot on Jun 10 2009 8:56 pm
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