Moab, Utah (Grand) Technical Rating: 3-4
Last Updated: 10-22-2017
Arches National Park
Tower Arch Highlights
Situated just outside Moab is Arches National Park. Arches is a major tourist destination known for its many sandstone arches that seem to defy the laws of nature. However, most of these famous arches are easily accessible from the main paved road and that’s typically where the crowds flock. Arches is not widely considered a Jeeping destination because it does not contain many off-road trails within its boundaries. In one sense that’s a bummer, but another way to look at it is that all the Moab Jeep fanatics and big outfits won’t put Arches on their radar, which means that what is available may be wide open for the taking.
A short hike over to Tower Arch, Parallel Arch, The Marching Men, and Anniversary Arch make this trail a must do.
Technical rating: (3-4) Easy
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
From Eye Of Whale Trail This is the easier ride, but note that it is significantly longer. The turnoff for the first trail is located just before Balanced Rock, about seven miles from the park entrance and indicated by a large brown sign. If you pass the parking area for Balanced Rock you’ve gone too far. This dirt road is called Willow Flats or BLM 378. Drive for just a few minutes along it due west, about a half-mile, until you see the turnoff for Tower Arch on your right.
From Salt Valley Road Take either Arches Entrance Road to Salt Valley Road just shy from Devil's Garden, or take Salt Valley Road in from 191. The trail entrance is well marked.
This trail offers a little bit off everything from deep sand to minor rock crawling. There are two entrance and exit points on the trail that allows you to do either half the trail or all of it. For the entire trail enter the trail from Salt Valley Road where it quickly enters a series of light obstacles as you climb up and over a hill with amazing views of Klondike Bluffs and the Marching Men, plus the amazing surrounding landscape. The trail meets the Eye of Whale trail where it turns into more sand and less rock for the final leg to the parking area of the Tower Arch hike. As always do not attempt the deep sand in heavy rain and avoid the washes in bad weather.
1: Trailhead (0.0mi)
Starting from this point is directly off of the Salt Valley Road. The trailhead is well marked and you can't miss it. The first 1/2 mile is in soft sand with plenty of room to pass.
2: Hill Climb (0.9mi)
Immediately after you start uphill you encounter bedrock and a series of minor obstacles as you climb up the hill with nothing rated over 5. Any aggressive stock SUV can do this portion if the driver keeps the vehicle level. There are no particular lines to take but as you can see from this photo the Jeep coming down got some nice flex.
3: Obstacles (1.3mi)
Here are just a few small obstacles. There is also a great spot for a scenic photo.
4: Ledges (1.5mi)
The west side of the hill is made up mostly of slick rock with tiny shelf ledges easy to grip while going down or up.
5: Deep Sand (1.7mi)
Just to the west of the hill it turns sandy and is fun to play in. The trail continues straight and is simple, wide and only issue would be in wet weather.
7: Eye of Whale Trailhead (1.9mi)
Continue straight for Tower Arch. To the left (south) is the trailhead for Eye of Whale.
9: End/Hiking Trailhead (3.4mi)
There is plenty of parking for at least 15 vehicles. The hiking trails start just to the north of the parking lot.
Camping and Lodging
The only camping within Arches National Park is at the official Arches Campground which has 50 sites. We suggest camp spot #19 as it has some clearance from being directly camped next to the road and plenty of space in the back for privacy. The group site is set up very well for setting tents up in the sand with plenty of picnic tables for cooking and gathering.
Just outside of the park, there are plenty of dispersed and rustic locations along Salt Valley Road.
Questions & Answers
Offroaded on 10-22-2017
Low Temperature: 44° F
High Temperature: 54° F
We did this with our long bed extended cab Chevy. A few spots were tight and we had to get out to do some spotting in a few places. Other than that, no issues. This is a scenic and fun road to do. You could make it more challenging depending on the lines you choose. The Tower arch itself is really neat too. We didn't take the time to look around much for Anniversary arch. I will say I don't think is where the way point from this guide shows it.
Offroaded on 03-05-2017
Conditions: Partially Cloudy
Low Temperature: 50° F
High Temperature: 58° F
Living in Salt Lake, Moab makes for a great 3 day weekend. After debating on trails to run for the weekend, we decided on spending most of Sunday running Klondike Bluffs, Klondike Bluffs Escape, Tower Arch, and Eye of the Whale. Tower Arch is an amazing trail with a few fun little challenges on the way to a not very popular arch. The arch itself is very large and will probably remain standing for quite a long time. I didn't however make the small hike over to Anniversary Arch. The weather was typical for early March, but provided a great getaway from the constant cold and snow in Northern Utah.
Offroaded on 03-05-2017
I have not been to Tower Arch since 2008; the trail has not changed dramatically, it is much like I remember it. This is an easy trail with a few ledges but nothing a stock 4x4 cannot handle. It was great fun to include Tower Arch with others such as Eye of the Whale. Both are easy and close to Arches National Park.