If you’re travelling in the Moab area (Utah, USA), I’m pretty sure you already planned to visit Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park. Being located outside of National Parks’ territories, Corona Arch is often overlooked, but it’s still one of the most impressive arches of the area! The trail that leads to it offers amazing views and is really less crowded than other trails in Arches NP. Don’t miss it!
Type: out and back trail (dog friendly)
Length: 3 miles/4.8 km round trip (2h to 2h30 if you take your time and take a break at the end of the trail to eat a snack while enjoying the view)
Elevation gain: 440 feet/~134 m
Best time to go: morning
Within 5 minutes, at 0.1 Mile, the trail leads you to a register box and just after you will cross railroad tracks. Then, the trail follows an old road alongside a cliff. Follow the trail and cairns when you’re on slickrock (cairns = piles of rocks that mark the trail).
At Mile 0.7, you will get to the first metal cable. Right after, you will have a first sight of Corona Arch.
The trail is relatively easy, but as you approach the arches, it gets a bit more difficult. You’ll eventually reach a second set of cables with steps carved into the sandstone; don’t hesitate to hold the cables to keep your balance. Just after, you’ll have to climb a 5-step ladder. The view you’ll get after is really worth it!
From this point, you just have to walk along the wide slickrock bench, towards the arches.
On my way to the Arches, on an early morning of April, I was alone on the trail and I loved it. At some point, I took a little break to drink water and I realized how much this area was quiet. I couldn’t hear anything. There was no car noise, no plane in the sky, no bugs buzzing around, no birds chirping, no wind; absolutely nothing. It was incredible. I couldn’t remember the last time I was in a total silence. In my everyday life, I sometimes feel I’m in a quiet environment, but in reality there’s always a background noise, as low as it can be, like the refrigerator.
While I was hiking towards the arches, I stopped many times, just to listen to the silence. Every time, I stopped cautiously, listening carefully, as if I was afraid to scare the silence away or if I was in a dream that would fade out. Because it really seemed unreal. And while I was so grateful of those quiet moments, I couldn’t help but be a little scared too. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m not used to hear nothing. As if something was wrong, like nothing was alive anymore…
Anyway, I think you get it! But I really hope you’ll have the chance to feel that too someday.
Bowtie Arch is a pothole-type arch, located on the cliff above the trail. It’s the first you’re going to reach.
Corona Arch looks like Rainbow Bridge (Glenn Canyon area), but it’s smaller (that’s why it’s also called Little Rainbow Bridge). Once you get there, walk underneath the arch and continue to the other side of it, where you’ll get an amazing view of the arch and the landscape. Also, if you hiked in the morning you will have to cross under the arch to the east side anyway to avoid dense shadows in your pictures.
Corona Arch is really impressive (140 by 105 foot opening)! I felt so tiny next to it!
When you’re ready, finish the hike by following the trail back to the trailhead.
Here are some pictures of the trail on the way back.
Best time to go
Since the parking lot is not extremely big (only ~30 spots) and if you like to hike alone, you better get there early. I got there at 8:00 am and my car was the only one in the parking lot. I started the hike at 8:30 am and had the trail all to myself on my way to the arches. On my way back, I saw more people and by the time I got back to my car, the parking lot was full.
It’s also better to do that hike early in the day (preferably during the spring or the fall), before it gets too hot, because this trail has almost no shade spots.
Water and facilities
There’s a dry toilet in the Gold Bar Campground located just across the road, but no running water in the area. Make sure to fill up your water bottles before getting there.
HOW TO GET THERE
The trailhead is located west of Moab; it’s a 20-minute drive from the city.
From Moab, drive northwest on US 191 (towards Arches National Park and turn left on UT 279/Potash Road (1.3 miles after the Colorado River Bridge). Drive south on UT 279 for 10 miles to the signed Corona Arch Trailhead on the right side of the road. There is a parking lot with ~30 spots.