The longest hike in Arches National Park, the Devil’s Garden Trail features some of the park’s most unique arches and stunning landscapes. Furthermore, Devil’s Garden Trail offers a welcome reprieve from the heavy crowds found at many of the shorter trails in Arches as you venture through the Primitive Loop side of the trail. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your epic Devil’s Garden and Primitive Trail hike in Arches National Park!
- About Devil’s Garden Trail
- Arches National Park
- Hike Overview | Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park
- How difficult is the hike?
- Hike modifications
- Highlights and lowlights
- When is the best time to hike?
- Things to know before you go
- Hike Details | Primitive Loop/ Devil’s Garden Trail
- Other hikes nearby
About Devil’s Garden Trail
If you’ve heard anything about Arches National Park, you’ve probably heard great things about its natural beauty and some negative things about just how crowded it can get. In recent years, Arches National Park has become swamped with crowds who flock to the stunning arches and short, easily-accessible hikes throughout the park.
In fact, the park service has actually had to close the entrance to the park on many days during the peak season due to reaching capacity limits. As a result, the park service implemented a timed entry system in 2022, hoping to curtail some of the insane overcrowding.
But if you are like us, you enjoy visiting places that provide an opportunity to get away from the crowds and experience nature quietly and peacefully. And while everything you’ve heard or read about Arches National Park may lead you to believe such solitude doesn’t exist in the park, don’t dismiss Arches so easily.
If you’re willing to put in a little more effort you can escape some of the overwhelming crowds, by completing the Devil’s Garden/Primitive Loop hike.
Arches National Park
Did you know that there are over 2,000 natural arches in Arches National Park?! Home to sandstone arches of every shape and size, the park is aptly, if un-creatively, named!
Of those 2,000 arches, easily the most famous is Delicate Arch, the largest free-standing arch in the park at 46 feet tall. If you’ve ever visited Utah, you’ve likely seen at least a picture of Delicate Arch as it is plastered everywhere, including on Utah license plates.
However, there are more than just Arches in the park, as the it is filled with all sorts of weird geological formations juxtaposed against a background of snowy mountain peaks – a truly picturesque sight!
In 2021, Arches National Park broke its all-time visitation record, drawing long lines of cars waiting to get in and even shutting down the entrances and turning away visitors due to exceeded capacity. As a result, starting in 2022, Arches implemented a timed entrance ticket system hoping to alleviate the overcrowding, protect the park’s precious resources, and give visitors a better experience.
When planning your trip, be sure to read up on the timed entry process, as you will need to make reservations in advance. You can learn more about the process here.
Help us protect this beautiful place!
Before we get into the details about the hike, it’s always important to take a moment to remind everyone about what it takes to preserve the incredible landscapes found in Arches National Park.
The seven principals of “Leave no trace” are especially important to follow on this remote trail, as the ecosystem is particularly fragile. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do not carve or vandalize any of the rock or plant life.
- Always stay on the trail. When there is no defined trail, avoid trampling the crypotbiotic soil (that layer of black or white crust over the sand and dirt). Walk through loose sand, previously disturbed land, or across slick rock where ever possible.
- Pack out what you pack in – do not leave behind trash. Do not take anything with you that you didn’t bring.
- Be prepared! Make sure you carry extra water and food, download the trail map on Alltrails before you leave for the park (no cell service!), and avoid hiking midday during the summer. Carrying a GPS device, like a Garmin In-Reach Mini, is a good idea to be able to call for help in case of a serious emergency.
Remember to Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on trail, be well-prepared, leave nothing behind, take only photos and memories with you, treat the area with respect and help preserve this beautiful spot for generations to come.
Devil’s Garden Trail Overview
- Location | Arches National Park
- Hiking distance | 8 miles
- Elevation gain | 1,100 feet
- Total time | 4 – 5 hours
- Epic-ness rating | 7
- Difficulty | Hard
- Permits/fees | Timed entry ticket required to access Arches National Park. $30 entrance fee per vehicle. Entrance is covered by the America the Beautiful annual U.S. National Parks pass.
- Trailhead | Devil’s Garden Trailhead (paved and accessible with any vehicle).
Find this hike on AllTrails: Devil’s Garden
Over the course of this 8 mile hike, you’ll see at least 9 arches (there are seriously so many we lost track!), including the famous the Double O Arch, Landscape Arch, and Private Arch (tucked away on a short spur trail).
Admittedly, the first couple miles of the Devil’s Garden trail are quite busy, and you’ll be sharing the route with many other hikers. But the Primitive Trail (the eastern section of the loop) is where you’ll find some solitude, as most hikers turn back after a few miles on the Devil’s Garden Trail.
But don’t let the crowds at the beginning dissuade you. If you want to experience Arches National Park in relative solitude, it is possible along the Devil’s Garden/Primitive Loop!
- The least crowded trail in the park allows you to escape some of the crowds
- Chance to see numerous unique arches and other weird rock formations
- Primitive Trail side of the loop can be difficult to follow
- Rock scrambling required on the Primitive Trail
How difficult is the Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches?
The Devil’s Garden Trail and Primitive Loop totals 8 miles and about 1,100 feet of elevation gain, including the several spur trails to various arches. On paper, the hike doesn’t sound too difficult.
However, the Primitive Trail side of the loop poses some additional challenges that make this hike a bit more difficult. The Primitive Trail becomes very hard to follow in some places, so route finding is required.
We recommend having a means of offline navigation to help you find your way (we use AllTrails Pro). In addition, there are a few sections of rock scrambling along the Primitive Trail.
If you are looking for a more moderate hike, but still want to see most of the area, you can opt to hike out and back to Dark Angel via the main Devi’s Garden Trail, skipping the Primitive Trail (see hike modifications below).
The hike stats listed above cover the entire Devil’s Garden trail and Primitive Trail loop and all spur trails to see every arch and the imposing Dark Angel. Because this hike is a loop, with tons of arches along the way, there are a handful of ways you can modify the hike. Here are a few ideas:
- Out and back to Landscape Arch: 1.9 miles
- Out and back to Landscape Arch with spur trail to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch: 2.4 miles
- Out and back to Double O Arch: 4.1 miles (includes Landscape Arch)
- Out and back to Double O, with spur trails to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch: 4.9 miles (includes Landscape Arch)
- Out and back to Dark Angel: 4.9 miles
- Out and back to Dark Angel, with spur trails to Navajo, Partition, Pine Tree, and Tunnel Arch: 6.1 miles
How many arches will I see?
What makes the Devil’s Garden Trail so awesome is that there are arches everywhere! There are a total of seven major named arches to see along the Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail Loop, some accessed via spur trails off the main trail, although you can certainly spot more smaller arches along the way.
The most impressive arches, in our opinion, are Landscape Arch, Double O Arch and Private Arch, but here is a full list of named arches along the route:
- Landscape Arch
- Double O Arch
- Pine Tree Arch
- Tunnel Arch
- Private Arch
- Navajo Arch
- Partition Arch
Devil’s Garden/Primitive Trail Map
The map below displays the trail, along with locations of each major arch and landmark.
- To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.
- To save this map for future use, click the star next to the title. From your phone, open the Google Maps app and click the “saved” tab, followed by the “Maps” icon. From your Gmail account, navigate to Maps –> “Saved” –> “My Maps” –> “Maps” tab.
- To email this map to yourself, click the three dots in the upper right corner.
When is the best time to hike?
The best time to hike the Devil’s Garden Trail is during the spring (late March through May) and fall (late September through early November), when temperatures are milder. Summers in Arches National Park are extremely hot, with daytime highs often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the winter, snow is possible and low temperatures are consistently below freezing with highs in the 30s to 40s. Snow and ice can make the trail slick and dangerous.
Backpacking Devil’s Garden
Devil’s Garden offers one of only a few backcountry campsites in Arches National Park. To get a permit, visit the Backcountry Permit Office up to seven days in advance of your trip. There is only one backcountry campsite located off the Primitive Trail.
- Read more about backpacking in Devil’s Garden Trail on the NPS website.
Devil’s Garden Campground
The only campground in Arches National Park, Devil’s Garden Campground, is located near the trailhead for the Devil’s Garden Trail and Primitive Loop. This is the ideal spot to stay if you want to get an early start on the hike!
However, be aware that campsites are in very high demand and typically sell out within minutes of being released during the peak season.
Campsites are made available on recreation.gov six months in advance of the date of your trip, so be sure to plan well in advance if you want to camp at Devil’s Garden Campground!
Things to know before you go
Below are a few tips and things to know before you go for the best experience.
- Arches National Park now requires timed entry tickets – We’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth a reminder! Don’t forget to reserve entry tickets as soon as they are released, 3 months in advance of your trip. You can find more details about entrance tickets on the Arches NPS website and can make reservations on recreation.gov.
- The Primitive Trail section of this hike is just that… primitive! The trail can be difficult to follow and requires a few sections of tricky rock scrambling. We recommend downloading the AllTrails Pro map or using your preferred means offline navigation to make sure you don’t get lost.
- There is no cell service on the trail. Download directions and maps in advance of your hike.
- Bring plenty of water and sun protection. Remember, this is the desert and there are no water sources or shade along the trail.
- Pets are not allowed on the Devil’s Garden Trail.
Devil’s Garden Trail Details
Below we’ll give you all the details about the Devil’s Garden Trail hike so you know what to expect.
We hiked the Devil’s Garden Trail as a loop including the Primitive Loop. This was by far our favorite hike in Arches National Park, and we highly recommend it to anyone wanting a longer hike with the chance to escape the crowds!
We’ll admit, Arches National Park is not our favorite of Utah’s Mighty 5, as most of the hikes in the park are short trails to some arch that are extremely overcrowded. That being said, the Devil’s Garden Trail is a ton of fun and a great way to explore a less popular part of the park!
Parking and getting to the trailhead
The trailhead for Devil’s Garden is located at the farthest end of the park from the main entrance, about 45 minutes from the visitor center.
Although there is a large parking lot available, spots can still be tough to find and you may find yourself circling a few times before you’re able to snag one.
From the trailhead, the hike meanders through orange rock formations along an easy to follow path with barely any elevation gain.
The first arch you’ll come across is Landscape Arch, a very long, thin sliver of an arch that will leave you wondering how such a fragile formation can withstand the desert elements!
Double O Arch
From there, you will continue along the path until you reach Double O Arch, which was our favorite of the Devil’s Garden Trail! This double-arch formation is unlike any other arch in Arches National Park. Somehow, there are two arches in one formation – crazy!
After Double O Arch, you will continue along the trail until you reach a spur trail to the Dark Angel a massive, black and orange sandstone spire rising up from the ground. To reach the Dark Angel, you will need to take a roughly 0.8 mile round trip detour off the main trail.
We’ll be honest, we weren’t terribly impressed by the formation, and we’re not convinced it’s worth going out of the way for. Frankly, it reminded us of something a bit different than an angel…but we’ll let you make that determination for yourself.
After visiting Dark Angel, return back the way you came until you reach the intersection with the main trail near Double O Arch. If you choose to tackle the Primitive Trail, turn left to continue along the loop. Otherwise, turn right to continue back the way you came via the main trail.
Although there are fewer arches along the Primitive Trail, one of the most unique things you’ll see are sets of thin sandstone rock formation, known as “fins”. These fins were formed when snowmelt caused pieces of the sandstone to fracture leaving behind one of the coolest formations we saw in the park.
Located on a short quarter-mile spur trail off the Primitive Trail is Private Arch, a massive eye-shaped window in a sandstone wall. By this point in the hike, you may be feeling inclined to skip the spur trail, but seeing Private Arch is totally worth the half mile detour!
Plus, because Private Arch is located off the Primitive Trail instead of the main Devil’s Garden Trail, you’re likely to have this view to yourself, at least for a few minutes!
After you reach Primitive Arch, you will continue along the trail until you reach the trailhead.
Other hikes nearby
Looking for other great in southern Utah? We highly recommend checking out the following:
- Druid Arch in the Needles District of Canyonlands
- The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip
- 24 Best hikes in Southern Utah
- 14 Amazing Hikes in Grand Staircase Escalante
- 18 Best Things to Do in Escalante, Utah
We want to hear from you! Questions about hiking the Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park? What’s your favorite hike near Moab? Let us know in the comments below!