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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Devils Garden Primitive Loop, Part 1, Arch Views, Arches National Park

August 17, 2012

We drove 7 miles from Delicate Arch to our next hike, Devils Garden Primitive Loop. The 7.2 mile roundtrip loop consisted of 8 arches on side trails and then a section of primitive trail that was marked with cairns. Though it was early, there were many cars in the parking lot and people loitering before starting their hikes. We each brought 4 liters of water, trail mix, PB and J sandwiches, and sunscreen.

At the entrance to Devils Garden Loop, M and I were greeted by a gravel-carpeted hallway with orange sandstone walls that dwarfed us. The first 3/4 miles of the trail climbed slightly and though it was washed out in the some parts, was a well-maintained trail. There was a path that diverged from the main trail which led to the Tunnel and Pine Tree arches. We did not stop to see them as we wanted to start our long hike while the temps were still cooler. After this, came to a fork in the path with the right branch leading to the Primitive Loop trail, while the left branch led to the arch views. M and I chose to see the arches first since Landscape Arch was already in view.

The trail now morphed from gravel to a tangerine-colored sand path as we hiked past Landscape Arch. The trail took us up/down some stairs and then led us to scramble over a slab of orange rock before going back to a somewhat maintained trail. For the rest of the hike, the trail had cairns to guide us and signs for the side gravel trails to see Navajo, Private, and Double O Arches, etc. Some areas of the trail also had us hiking on top of narrow ledges with unnerving 60+ ft drop offs on both sides. The rest of the hike included more sand hiking and scrambling over slickrock.

With temperatures reaching 97 degrees F that day, the beautiful scenery made the heat less miserable. We saw most of the arches for Devils Garden and also hiked to see Dark Angel, a 150ft tall sandstone pillar. After Dark Angel, we would continue onto the Primitive Loop section of the trail. M and I were only half way through our hike, and not knowing how rugged the rest of the hike was going to be, we were left wondering if we had brought enough water for the entire day...

Entrance into Devils Garden Primitive Loop

Maintained portion of the trail, accessible and easy

Side trail leading to Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches

Landscape Arch

M next to Landscape Arch, trail is now sandy

Landscape Arch, going down some stairs

On trail, turn right after Landscape Arch

Scramble up some slickrock

Trail up the slickrock

Closer to the top of the slickrock

Looking back from slickrock climb

After going up slickrock, follow cairns and well worn areas of rock

Trail becomes maintained going to Navajo Arch

Trail to Navajo Arch

Navajo Arch

Holes in sandstone before Navajo Arch

Navajo Arch

Back side of Navajo Arch
Path to Partition Arch

M and I standing under Partition Arch
Back on Devils Garden Loop Trail going to Double O Arch

Trail sign for arches
Slickrock path to Double O Arch
Follow sign and cairns to Double O Arch. Pay attention. It can be confusing in some areas
On the way to Double O Arch
Follow cairns across slickrock ledge with 60+ft drop off

Ledge we had to hike on with 60+ ft drop off on the right

Sign and trail for Double O Arch

Trail for Double O Arch

Trail to Double O Arch

Double O Arch

Very confusing trail sign
Looking back at trail, can see part of Double O Arch, on the way to Dark Angel

Hiking through sand to see Dark Angel

Dark Angel in view

Dark Angel
Heading back to Double O Arch where M and I will take Primitive Loop

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