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Arch Canyon and Walnut Knob


The 12-mile-long Arch Canyon contains several cliff dwelling ruins 1/2 mile from its entrance and much further up the canyon are three arches: Cathedral Arch, Angel Arch and Keystone arch.

Angle arch viewed from the floor of Arch Canyon
The first 8 miles of the canyon are explored either by driving, biking or hiking a sandy 4×4 road called the Arch Canyon Trail. The last 5 miles to see the arches is a hiking-only trail.
The 4×4 road portion requires a short-wheelbase Jeep or modified 4×4 vehicle, the turns at the beginning are tight making it difficult but not impossible for a long-wheelbase vehicle like a pickup truck to negotiate them, and the sandy track crosses the wash no less than 69 times, some with steeper entrances and exits than others and some are going to be water crossings.
At the end of the 4×4 portion is a parking area where the hiking portion of the Arch Canyon Trail begins and takes you past the three arches.
There is a really nice collection of petroglyphs at Walnut Knob before the entrance to the canyon that you can visit before or after Arch Canyon.
Arch Canyon also has an overlook on the canyon rim that you can drive to that is great for sunsets.



  • The ruins in Arch Canyon are 1/4 mile from the entrance, so you can easily walk to them if you just want to see the ruins.
  • A stock 4×4 vehicle may not be the best for this trail, with an F-150 the wheelbase is long enough to make it very difficult to make the very tight turns in the 1/2 mile trail portion just to get to the ruins.
  • Dogs allowed
  • The three arches are on the hiking-only portion of the trail.
  • Expect water crossings on the 4×4 road portion



Walnut Knob – 1/2 mile total out and back
Arch Canyon 4×4 Trail – 16 miles out and back
Arch Canyon Hiking Trail – 10 miles out and back


Getting to Arch Canyon

  • Take Highway 95 west from Blanding for 14.3 miles.
  • Turn right onto County Road 229 (Comb Wash Road) at ( 37.511548, -109.656451 ).
  • Continue north for 2.3 miles, arrive at a T at ( 37.542923, -109.666072 )
  • Turn right at the T to continue the short distance to Arch Canyon.
  • If you are going to go see the optional Walnut Knob Rock Art Panels, you will want to take a left at the T.

Map of Arch Canyon and Walnut Knob

Map of the beginning of Arch Canyon

Walnut Knob Rock Art Panels (see before entering Arch Canyon)

  • From the T at ( 37.542923, -109.666072 ) go to the left and parking is an obvious pull-out on the left. If you keep going farther the road becomes impassable for stock 4x4s very quickly.
  • Park here and start hiking up the slick rock.
  • Walnut Knob is a prominent feature, so the approach to Walnut Knob is whatever route you choose across the slickrock as there is no marked trail. Try to work your way toward the knob finding ways to get across the gullies between the slickrock fingers running down.
Walnut knob is the prominent rock formation on the top of the hill
Walnut knob is the prominent rock formation on the top of the hill
The pictographs consist of two main panels adjacent to each other, if you approach the knob directly coming uphill from the parking area you’ll want to go around to the left and through a little passageway to get to the rock art panels.
The images are unique in that so many of them are depicting hunting and game animals. Besides the very interesting shield-like images there is a large amount of deer, big horn sheep, warriors with bows, and a lot of warriors on horseback.

Petroglyphs of a hunting party including hunters on horseback with bow and arrows

A hunter with bow and arrow and game petroglyph

An assortment of pottery sherds



Arch Canyon Route (8 miles)

From the T at ( 37.542923, -109.666072 ) go to the right and then left, head to where the area where you will see people parking and prepping ATVs at ( 37.544619, -109.666024 )
Head northwest to the crossing of the Arch Canyon Wash/Creek at ( 37.545779, -109.667199 ), (it will either be a dry wash or a creek depending on conditions), as you are about to cross the wash/creek don’t cross it, instead, head up the wash.

The start of the 4x4 track up the canyon is through the wash, typically wet
The start of the 4×4 track up the canyon is through the wash, typically wet

Follow the narrow sandy 4×4 track, you will come very quickly to a very tight S turn usually filled with water, this is the first stream cross, there are 68 more to go.

Arch Canyon Ruins

Heading up the canyon from the trailhead. After only about a quarter of a mile, you’ll encounter the Arch Canyon Ruins that are behind a fence but You can enter by walking down along the fence to the far end at the right.
There are some faint pictographs and some sharpening grooves and holes that would have held roof beams for a 2nd and 3rd story, this was a very large structure at one time. Images of buffalo are among some of the pictographs at the site.
Above the fenced ruins, are two other ruins and panels just up the canyon. 

The remaining standing stacked walls of the Arch Canyon ruins, Bears Ears

Spirals carved in the cliff face
Rock art panel up the canyon from the fenced ruins

After you’ve had your fill of the ruins continue up the canyon. The road continues for the next 7 miles crossing the wash/stream a total of 69 times, some of the crossings are down and back up some steep drops, and some have easy entries and exits.
Example of one of the many, many stream crossing
Sometimes the track with continue up the wash for short distances over slickrock, sometimes wet sometimes dry.

Hiking Trail Portion (5 miles)

The 4×4 track ends at a turnaround at ( 37.606517, -109.761875 ), Park here at the Forest Service boundary. The canyon bottom changes dramatically here with tall pines. Look for a picnic table area in among the pine trees. If you hear voices they are probably coming from above and behind you from the Arch Canyon Overlook.

The end of the 4x4 track

Look for signs of the trail leading up the canyon either through the wash or on the left-hand side of it.
You are at the junction of Texas Canyon and Arch Canyon. Texas Canyon is on the left and Arch Canyon is on the right. You want to continue up Arch Canyon. The trail is sometimes easy to see and sometimes not, just keep going up the canyon eventually the trail becomes obvious.

Cathedral Arch ( 37.610199, -109.759256 )

Cathedral Arch will be coming up shortly on your right-hand side, you will get your first views of it through the pines and there will be more views as you continue up the canyon.
Cathedral Arch in Arch Canyon

Angel Arch ( 37.617270, -109.761167 )

Angel Arch comes into view about 0.75 miles from the start of the hiking trail on the right side of the canyon.

The trail keeps switching between faint and obvious the further you go, always keep heading up the canyon and on the flatter ground, the trail does not climb up or become difficult, the easier ground is typically the right way.


Continuing on, at 1.5 miles from the start of the hiking trail you are at the junction of Arch Canyon on the left and Butts Canyon on the right, stay left (northwest) to stay in Arch Canyon.

The route
The trail is not always obvious as there is little traffic through the canyon 

Keystone Arch ( 37.639682, -109.798559 )

4.5 – 5.0 miles from the start of the hiking trail you should start seeing Keystone arch on the left side of the canyon.
Some people continue on and hike out of the canyon onto Elk Mountain Road, but Keystone Arch is typically the turn around point for most people.       

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