Best Hikes in Southeast Utah

Location: The eastern quadrant of the state to the south of I70 encompassing Arches, Canyonlands, Cedar Mesa (including Grand Gulch) and the Comb Ridge area.

Featured Hikes

Closeup of Moon House on the descent down the rockslide

Moon House Ruin

Distance: 3.2 - 5.6 miles (Round Trip)

Moon House, one of the best archaeology sites on Cedar Mesa, consists of three separate structures with 49 rooms. Well preserved pictorgraphs grace the walls of an interior courtyard and some of the rooms.

Chesler Park

Chesler Park

Distance: 5.4 - 10.9 miles (Loop)

A long, entertaining circuit through a stunning landscape of sandstone spires, pinnacles, knobs, fins and monoliths surrounding a scenic expanse of desert grassland in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

Delicate Arch framed by the La Sal Mountains to the east, partially hidden by clouds.

Delicate Arch

Distance: 3.1 miles (Round Trip)

A short hike to a stunning, iconic arch perched on the edge of a huge sandstone bowl and framed by the scenic La Sal Mountains.

Great view of the fins located to the east of the trail.

Devil's Garden

Distance: 1.8 - 7.7 miles (Loop)

Seven amazing arches set amid a landscape of weird and wonderful sandstone fins, spires and knobs are the rewards for hiking the Devils Garden Trail, my favorite trail in Arches National Park.

Images from the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon

The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon

Distance: 7.2 miles (Round Trip)

A nice hike to the Great Gallery, a phenomenal Barrier Canyon style rock art panel in a remote, detached unit of Canyonlands National Park.

A slightly truncated view of Procession Panel

Procession Panel

Distance: 2.8 miles (Round Trip)

Without a doubt, my favorite rock art site along the Lower Butler Wash Road is the amazing Procession Panel, a 15-ft long petroglyph panel though to represent a ceremonial gathering or migration story.

Double Arch

The Windows and Double Arch

Distance: 0.5 - 2.0 miles (Loop)

A photographer’s delight, this trail visits North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch, features great views of the areas distinctive rock formations and includes distant vistas of the La Sal Mountains.

Double O Arch

Double O Arch

Distance: 4.2 - 5.8 miles (Round Trip)

The trail to Double O Arch is one of the quintessential hikes in Arches National Park, featuring five notable arches along with views of an amazing concentration of sandstone fins, whimsical spires and sculpted knobs.

Druid Arch

Druid Arch

Distance: 10.4 miles (Round Trip)

A great hike to a high bench near the head of Elephant Canyon offering spectacular views of Druid Arch, a massive, uniquely-shaped angular arch. Along the way the trail travels through scenic Elephant Canyon, beneath sandstone walls sculpted into amazing shapes.

Closeup of Nevills Arch

Owl Creek Canyon to Nevill's Arch

Distance: 9.6 miles (Round Trip)

This strenuous hike travels down stunningly beautiful Owl Creek Canyon to Nevill’s Arch, an imposing span located atop a high fin.

Corona Arch

Corona Arch

Distance: 2.5 miles (Round Trip)

A short, relatively easy trail leads to stunning Corona Arch and its fascinating neighbor, Bowtie Arch, situated in a huge sandstone amphitheatre high above the northwest wall of Bootlegger Canyon.

Park Avenue

Park Avenue

Distance: 0.9 - 1.8 miles (Round Trip)

Stroll beneath soaring sandstone formations topped with sculpted pinnacles, towers and spires on this short, highly scenic hike through a dramatic canyon in Arches National Park.

View of a partial intact roof on  one of the kivas

Seven Kivas

Distance: 2.8 - 4.4 miles (Round Trip)

This short hike travels down scenic Road Canyon to an amazing archaeology site with seven kivas.

View of jailhous ruins from across the canyon.

Bullet Canyon

Distance: 11.5 - 15.8 miles (Round Trip)

This strenuous hike leads to two fascinating ruins, Perfect Kiva and Jailhouse Ruin, in scenic Bullet Canyon. Past the ruins the trail continues down canyon to the confluence with Grand Gulch.

The main section of the Wolfman Panel with a tall slender anthropomorph, two birds, a wolf print, two orb and other figures

Wolfman Panel

Distance: 0.8 - 1.4 miles (Round Trip)

The Wolfman Panel is fascinating both for its precise artwork as well as its interesting figures. The easy access and short hiking distance make this site a popular spot for rock art enthusiasts passing through the Bluff and Mexican Hat area.

Big Man Panel

Government to Big Man Panel

Distance: 10.4 miles (Round Trip)

Two life-sized red and white pictographs, depicting a man and a woman, are the central focus of this fascinating rock art panel, located on a ledge high above Grand Gulch.

View down Lost Canyon on a clear day

Lost Canyon/Big Spring Canyon Loop

Distance: 8.7 - 10.0 miles (Loop)

Spectacular canyon scenery awaits hikers on this varied loop hike traversing sandy washes, climbing slickrock benches and crossing steep sandstone ridges as it travels through three scenic canyons.

View of scenic Kane Gulch

Kane Gulch to Junction and Turkey Pen Ruins

Distance: 7.0 - 9.7 miles (Round Trip)

Grand Gulch is often likened to an open air museum of Ancestral Puebloan ruins and rock art. This trail offers a great introduction to the canyon, visiting Junction Ruin and Turkey Pen Ruin and passing a nice viewpoint for Stimper Arch.

Bannister House Ruin

Collins to Bannister House Ruin

Distance: 9.0 miles (Round Trip)

This easy trail descends to scenic Grand Gulch and then travels up canyon to visit impressive Bannister House Ruins. Along the way the trail passes an old cowboy camp, an abandoned rincon, a small granary and small pictograph panels.

First views of the alcove and Cold Springs Cave

Cold Springs Cave Ruin

Distance: 2.1 miles (Round Trip)

Explore a cave with the remains of a kiva and perennial spring along with a nearby alcove containing ruins and rock art on this easy hike up a short canyon off the Lower Butler Wash Road.

Close up of the ruins in Monarch Cave

Monarch Cave

Distance: 1.6 miles (Round Trip)

This short, easy trail leads to an impressive ruin situated in a deep, east facing alcove beneath a pour-off. The site, located in a side canyon off the Lower Butler Wash Road, includes an interesting structure with rounded walls along with rock art, pottery shards and grinding stones.

View of the Fiery Furnace from the overlook

Fiery Furnace

Distance: 2.3 miles (Loop)

The Fiery Furnace hike travels through a fascinating labyrinth of fins, narrow canyons and weird rock formations. Agility and proper footwear are required to complete the demanding route only accessible on a Ranger-led hike or with a day-use permit.

View of Behind the Rocks and the La Sal Mountains from the Amasa Back trail.

Amasa Back

Distance: 8.0 - 10.4 miles (Round Trip)

The Amasa Back trail offers a challenging, view packed hike to a ridge overlooking the Colorado River and the red rock country beyond.

Tower Arch

Tower Arch

Distance: 2.7 - 5.7 miles (Round Trip)

An off-the-beaten-path hike in the Klondike Bluffs area of Arches National Park leads through a secluded valley ringed by a wonderland of deep-red rock formations before reaching Tower Arch, an immense span with lovely views to the west.

Closeup of the House on Fire

Mule Canyon, South Fork

Distance: 2.0 - 9.2 miles (Round Trip)

This easy hike offers an excellent opportunity to discover well preserved ruins tucked into alcoves and along the walls of side canyons in the scenic South Fork of Mule Canyon.

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

Distance: 4.9 - 7.3 miles (Round Trip)

Fine views of the Behind the Rocks and the La Sal Mountains along with the option to see great rock art panels make this a recommended hike.

Heading up the Syncline Valley

Syncline Loop

Distance: 8.3 miles (Loop)

This interesting and challenging trail travels around Upheaval Dome, a fascinating geological feature in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. The trail, recommended for experienced hikers only, descends rugged Upheaval Canyon and climbs out via a beautiful and difficult trail up the Syncline Valley.

Near the base of Jeep Arch

Culvert Canyon/Jeep Arch

Distance: 4.0 miles (Round Trip)

Wonderful views of a stunning canyon, solitude and an impressive jeep-shaped arch more than compensate for the difficulty in following a trail, which is poorly defined in places.

Looking southwest from the trail along the west side of Dead Horse Point.

Dead Horse State Park Loop Trails

Distance: 2.0 - 6.6 miles (Loop)

Amazing vistas of the sculpted canyons, pinnacles and buttes defining the landscape along the Colorado River and nearby Canyonlands National Park are the highlights of this easy 6.0 mile loop hike traveling around the southern end of Dead Horse State Park.

Great views of Monument Basin along the Grand View Point trail.

Grand View Point

Distance: 2.0 miles (Round Trip)

Spectacular panoramic views of the red rock canyon between the Colorado and Green Rivers, the Needles and Maze Districts of Canyonlands National Park and beyond are the scenic rewards for this easy hike to the southern tip of the Island in the Sky mesa in Canyonlands National Park.

View into the First Fork of Slickhorn Canyon

First Fork of Slickhorn Canyon

Distance: 4.9 - 9.0 miles (Round Trip)

Hikers making the very steep descent into the rugged, scenic First Fork of Slickhorn Canyon are rewarded with the opportunity to visit Perfect Kiva, one of the few kivas on Cedar Mesa that hikers are permitted to enter.

Closeup of the detail on the panel, note the fingers and toes of the pictured image

Lower Butler Wash

Distance: 3.0 - 5.4 miles (Round Trip)

This short, moderately-easy hike leads to a stunning rock art panel along the north side of the San Juan River.

Fallen Roof ruin

Road Canyon

Distance: 3.0 - 12.2 miles (Round Trip)

This hike can either be done as a short, moderately-easy walk to see Fallen Roof ruins or a long, more difficult trip that also visits Seven Kivas.

Sipapu Bridge from the trail climbing to to the rim.

Natural Bridges National Monument Loop Trail

Distance: 8.6 miles (Loop)

This great loop hike in Natural Bridges National Monument visits three majestic natural bridges, crosses a high desert landscape and wanders along two scenic canyons with rock art panels and ancestral Puebloan ruins

Fish Mouth Cave from the trailhead

Fish Mouth Cave

Distance: 1.9 miles (Round Trip)

Four archaeology sites, some rock art and an impressive large and deep alcove lure hikers up a short, narrow canyon off the Lower Butler Wash Road.

Full arch

Mesa Arch

Distance: 0.6 miles (Loop)

A short, easy hike leads to a photogenic arch perched on a cliff edge with great views of the La Sal Mountains, Buck Canyon and Washer Woman Arch. This is a popular trail, especially with sunrise photographers.

Split Level Ruins

Split Level Ruin

Distance: 1.8 miles (Round Trip)

Two alcoves, stacked one atop of the other, harbor interesting ruins and rock art in a canyon off the Lower Butler Wash Road.

Pictograph

Cave Spring

Distance: 0.6 miles (Loop)

This short, entertaining hike visits an old cowboy camp and the Cave Spring alcove, harboring a spring and pictographs. Beyond the alcove the trail climbs atop a slickrock formation with fine views of nearby rock formation. Distant views stretch to the Abajo and La Sal Mountains.

View of the upper level of Double Stack Ruin

Double Stack Ruin

Distance: 1.3 miles (Round Trip)

Ruins, rock art and two sweat lodges are the highlights of this short hike in a brushy canyon to the west of the Lower Butler Wash Road.

Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome

Distance: 0.6 - 1.7 miles (Round Trip)

A short hike leads to a fascinating viewpoint overlooking a geologic anomaly in canyon country where rock layers are dramatically deformed into a dome surrounded by a giant anticline, which looks like a crater measuring nearly 3-miles across.

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Distance: 1.8 - 2.3 miles (Round Trip)

The broad, easy trail to Landscape Arch is popular and deservedly so. The spectacularly slender arch seeming defies gravity with its thinnest section, only 6-ft. thick, supporting a span of entrada sandstone that is 290-ft. long.

Looking across the canyon at ruins tycked in an alcove beneath a large overhang

Lower Fish Creek Canyon

Distance: 3.6 - 8.0 miles (Round Trip)

A moderately-easy hike up a pleasant, shallow canyon with Ancestral Puebloan ruins and a few rock art sites.

Mill Creek Canyon

Mill Creek Canyon

Distance: 1.6 - 5.0 miles (Round Trip)

Towering sandstone walls, a perennial stream, waterfalls, swimming holes and rock art are the highlights of this interesting trail exploring scenic Mill Creek Canyon in southeast of Moab.

Two granaries beneath a ledge on the Aztec Butte trail.

Aztec Butte

Distance: 0.9 - 1.7 miles (Round Trip)

A steep climb up a slickrock dome leads to ancestral Puebloan granaries and outstanding views of Taylor Canyon.

Ruins tucked in an alcove on the north canyon wall

West Fork of Upper Butler Wash

Distance: 3.2 miles (Round Trip)

This short, moderately easy off-the-beaten-path hike travels up the West Fork of upper Butler Wash, visiting four archaeology sites along the way.

Looking up the Trail Fork of Slickhorn Canyon

Slickhorn Canyon – Third Fork to Trail Fork

Distance: 10.5 miles (Loop)

This strenuous hike visits the scenic Third and Trail Forks of Slickhorn Canyon

Vista from viewpoint 3

Slickrock

Distance: 2.6 miles (Loop)

This interesting trail loops around the slickrock-topped mesa between Big Spring and Little Spring Canyons, offering good views of two canyons and surrounding landmarks. The trail is a great option for families or anyone who has never hiked on slickrock.

Broken Arch

Sand Dune, Broken and Tapestry Arches Loop

Distance: 1.6 - 2.7 miles (Loop)

This moderately-easy family hike visits three interesting arches; Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch, and travels through scenic desert landscape on uncrowded trails, a rarity in Arches National Park.

Granary

Roadside Ruin

Distance: 0.3 miles (Loop)

This short, easy trail leads to an Ancestral Puebloan granary tucked into a ledge above a dry wash. A self-guided trail brochure describes the plants along the trail and how they were used by the Ancestral Puebloans. This is a good introductory desert hike for children of all ages.

View of the Colorado and Green Rivers from the Confluence Overlook

Confluence Overlook

Distance: 9.8 miles (Round Trip)

This trail crosses dry, open country and ends at a cliff overlooking the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers, 1,000-ft. below.

Tower on the east side of the rim

Cave Canyon Towers (aka Mule Canyon Towers)

Distance: 1.4 miles (Round Trip)

A short, easy hike to the ruins of seven towers located along the rim at the head of Cave Canyon. From the rim enjoy views of additional ruins tucked into alcoves and under ledges along the cliffs on the east/northeast canyon wall.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Distance: 0.3 miles (Round Trip)

The Balanced Rock trail circles a photogenic 128-ft. tall rock formation, offering a variety of perspectives of the formation and the surrounding landscape in Arches National Park.

Colorful rock formations rising above the west side of the trail.

Lower Mule Canyon

Distance: 1.3 miles (Round Trip)

On a day when a short hike makes sense, here is one to consider. The easy trail visits a few small ruins in Lower Mule Canyon, a scenic spot with off the Comb Wash road.

Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch

Distance: 0.3 miles (Round Trip)

A short hike to a secluded arch nestled among sandstone fins, south of the Devil’s Garden section of Arches National Park.

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch

Distance: 0.4 miles (Round Trip)

Distinctive Skyline Arch graces the top of a large fin and is visible from many viewpoints around Arches National Park. A short, easy trail leading to the base of the arch provides up-close views of this impressive span.

View Hikes by Area:
ArchesCanyonlandsMoabGrand GulchBears Ears NMMonticelloMexican HatBluff

The Region, the Hikes & the Base Camps

The high desert plateaus of southeast Utah are carved into a maze of intricate canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires. Two national parks, two national forest a huge recreation area and millions of acres of BLM land protect this amazing landscape. Hiking informatioin is available for Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Moab, Grand Gulch, Bears Ears, Mexican Hat and Bluff.

This guide highlights the best hikes in the region, the trails that travel through scenic canyons, visit magnificent arches and lead to spectacular panoramic viewpoints. Numerous hikes offer the opportunity to discover Ancestral Puebloan cliff ruins and rock art in a natural setting.

Base Camp Information: Arches / Canyonlands / Moab / Grand Gulch / Bears Ears NM / Monticello / Mexican Hat / Bluff