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Guide for the Devil's Garden & the Primitive Loop Trail

Devils Garden in arches national park Utah

The Devil’s Garden located in the northernmost part of Arches National Park has something for everyone, including one of the best hikes in the park – the Primitive Loop Trail.


The area is rich in sandstone fins, towers, and arches including the park’s famously long and thin 306-foot Landscape Arch, which is still hanging in there even after the latest rock falls from it in the 1990s.


The main attraction is walking the trails that lead to views of interesting arches or scenic views. The Devil’s Garden is sort of a double feature, on the surface, the first section is an easy out and back for most people and good for families, it consists of wide easy trails that culminate in views of Landscape Arch. 


If you’re in for more adventure and are fit, and comfortable with a bit of route finding, hiking The Primitive Loop rewards you with a more challenging and remote hiking experience and lets you explore more unique sites.


Parking for the Devil’s Garden

Devil’s Garden trailhead parking lot
38.783166, -109.595171


  • Dogs not allowed (National Park)
  • This area can get busy in the summer months, but the parking lot is very large, and if you continue onto the primitive loop after Landscape Arch you will barely see anyone else.
  • Bring lots of water, especially in the summer, you are exposed to the sun for the majority of the route
  • Wear shoes with a good grip for the Primitive loop
  • Early morning is the best time to hike here, the lighting is spectacular and highlights the shapes of the rocks and arches


Photo Notes

  • Best early morning or late afternoon for photography



  • Landscape Arch
    2.0 miles total out and back, 200 feet of elevation gain
  • The Primitive loop
    Is 5.5 miles, but can get longer depending on how much you lose the route along the way
Devils garden and primitive trail map
Devils garden and primitive trail map


Route for the Devil’s Garden

The trail begins at the Devil’s Garden parking area near the toilets. The trail is nice and wide and starts taking you through some nice towering rock fins giving you a taste of what’s to come.

Devils Garden arches national park entrance trail

In just a few minutes you will come to the first junction, take a right following the signs for Tunnel and Pine Tree Arch both of which are on their own short spur trails that take you out and back to each.

Pine Tree Arch ""

Head to Pine Tree Arch first, on the way look off to your right for some gorgeous scenery, and once you get to Pine Tree Arch, make sure you walk through the arch to see the views behind it. Notice the pine tree growing below the arch?
Views on the way to Pine Tree Arch
Views on the way to Pine Tree Arch
Views on the way to Pine Tree Arch
Arches national park Pine Tree Arch
Pine Tree Arch

Tunnel Arch

Head back the way you came and take the left-hand spur trail to Tunnel Arch. You will see Tunnel Arch and its unnamed neighbor to its left as you walk down the trail, but continue the short distance to the viewing area for the best view.
Tunnel Arch
Tunnel Arch
Head back to the main trail and continue deeper into the park. Enjoy the views in front of you and behind you. It is 0.5 miles to Landscape Arch, on the way you will pass a junction for the exit of the Primitive Loop Trail to the right, keep to the left to continue to Landscape Arch.
The sun rising over the trail

Landscape Arch ""

You will start to see the arch above and to your left as you get closer. Keep going, there are multiple viewing points along the trail as this is the most famous arch in the Devil’s Garden. The further you go the better the views of the arch get, with the best view being at the final viewpoint.
At 306 feet this is the longest arch in North America. It is only 6 feet at its narrowest. Pieces of the arch have been falling off of it for tens of thousands of years, with the latest ones falling off in the 1990s and were captured by a tourist on video. Eventually, this arch will collapse but until then it’s quite spectacular to see in person. 
Prior to the latest rockfalls, there was a spur trail that took you right under the arch and up the hill behind it for a good view from the other side. That trail has been closed and has almost disappeared, but you might still be able to see it if you look hard enough.

Landscape ArchLandscape Arch

Most people will turn around here and retrace their steps back out to the entrance, but, if you’re more adventurous the entrance to the Primitive Loop Trail is located here next to Landscape Arch.

Primitive Loop Trail ""

Distance 5.5 miles loop

From Landscape Arch you can start hiking the Primitive Loop, which takes you into more rugged and less visited portions of the Devil’s Garden, along with great scenery.

  • Completing the loop requires good endurance and route-finding abilities as the trail is not always well-marked or easy to follow.      
  • You will be walking between and on top of rock fins with exposure, traversing washes, and doing friction walking on steep sections of slickrock with exposure, there are some sections of rock scrambling and a few short but strenuous climbs.     
  •  Keeping a keen eye is important as it is easy to lose the trail, some sections on slickrock are marked with rock cairns but they are few and far between and easy to miss.     
  • There are numerous “false trails”, made by other hikers who have stumbled off the main trail and created misleading short, dead-end trails.  
  • On slickrock look for a worn path on the rock to help you find the route.
  • Occasionally metal poles driven into the rock by the park service are at key junctions directing you in the right direction.
Start of the primitive loop trail
Follow the worn path on the slickrock
Notice the worn path on the slickrock?
As soon as you start this first slickrock ascent make sure you look back, you’ll see a great view of Landscape Arch on your right and lots of tall rock pillars and fin formations spread out in front of you with the La Sal mountains behind, take the time to look as you probably aren’t coming back this way if you’re doing the loop.
Looking back toward landscape arch

Wall Arch

As you continue climbing you will be in a slot in the rocks, this was once where Wall arch stood. It was 33 feet high and 71 feet long and was the 12th longest arch in the park. It fell with no witnesses on the night of August 4th, 2008.

Collapse of wall arch before and after

Wall arch before and after it collapsed – NPS
Next, you will come to a signed junction with Double O arch 0.9 miles going straight and Partition and Navajo Arch to the left. Head to the left to got to Partition and Navajo arch which will be on short out and back spur trails.
Follow the easy sandy trail to another junction, Partition Arch to your left Navajo Arch to your right

Partition Arch ""

This is a double window arch and offers sweeping easterly views through its opening. Make sure you walk through the opening, there’s a big ledge on the other side with great views, and you can also see the backside of the two arches.
Partition Arch
Partition Arch

Navajo Arch ""

This is a very unusual arch, it’s at ground level and you can pass through it to the space behind the fin, pictures of it can almost make it look like a double arch. To the right of the arch, you can find some viewing notches looking out over the rest of the park.Navajo Arch
Navajo Arch from the inside
Head back to the main junction and turn left on the main trail heading toward Double O arch.
This is the most confusing section of the trail. Notice the rock fin on your left and the canyon in front of you. At some point, you are going to want to be walking on top of that rock fin on your left. If you don’t get on top of this fin you will eventually start descending into the canyon. Don’t do that. 
Fin Canyon
Don’t go into the canyon
Keep finding your way, but keep that rock fin close to you, eventually, there is going to be a low point on this fin with a marked pole with an arrow, this is where you want to get on top of the fin and keep going in the same direction.
Walk on top of the rock fin

Black Arch Overlook ""

Continue walking on the top of the fin, you will have spectacular views of the fin canyon on your right.
When you get to the end there will be a marked sign for the Black Arch Overlook. The overlook is about 100 feet to the right, look down into the canyon, in the distance, you should see the Black Arch below you. Many people will see Black Arch but miss the small arch right at your feet.
Black Arch Overlook
Black arch from the Black arch overlook
The trail continues, skirting the finned valley always to your right.  Eventually, you’re going to come to two large rocks look to the left you should see a metal pole, that’s a trail marker You’re going to descend down The Rock fin and head to your left, the way down is easy to see as the top of the rock is well worn where others have gone before you.

Double O Arch ""

As soon as you descend the fin and start to your left you can see Double O arch in front of you about 200 feet away.
You are now in a high-walled rocky cirque with a sandy bottom filled with ancient pinyon trees and abundant with bird life.
This is the second largest arch in the Devil’s Garden and as the name implies, there are two arches here, with the largest above the smaller one. The large arch has an opening of 71 feet, and the smaller one is 21 feet.
Double O Arch
Double O Arch
You exit the cirque to the right of the arch and have a choice to make. There will be a signed marker, with the spur trail to Dark Angel to the left or continue on the primitive loop to the right.

Dark Angel

The spur trail to Dark Angel is 1.0 miles total out and back. As you start on the trail you can see the Dark Angle standing like a 150-foot-tall sandstone sentinel on the left end of the ridgeline in the distance.
The trail out to Dark Angel is easy to follow. There are some reports that there is rock art on the side of Dark Angel.  There is a strange dark section with many cracks in the varnish on one side, but I can’t make out any rock art, but maybe you will. On your way back you’ll get a good view of the back of Double O arch.

The ridge line with Dark Angle on the far left

Dark Angle rock formation
Back at the trail junction continue on the Primitive loop. You will head down into the valley along a wide and easy trail with views of the interesting fins on your left.
The trail alternates many times between following the wash, crossing the wash, and traversing slickrock. Watch for rock cairns here and there and strategically placed logs to keep you on the right path as the route finding can become difficult in places.
The trail dark angel

Private Arch

The out-and-back spur trail to Private Arch is the last major feature on the Primitive Loop. Along the way keep your eye out for Top Story Window. The trail begins to descend as you get closer to Private Arch, but you won’t see this arch until the last moment as it is hidden and will be on your left.Private Arch
Private Arch

Top Story Window Arch

Top Story Window
When you return back to the main trail you’re at the very northernmost point of the loop, from here you’re heading back toward Landscape Arch but there are plenty of challenges still to come.
There is a shallow crevice you will have to jump over shortly and then you’re climbing into rock fins looking for rock cairns to guide you. This area is confusing and there are plenty of false trails.
Keep working your way south towards a wall of fins in front of you. You will be between two tall fins rising up on either side of you, walking through a heavily vegetated and sandy area between them.
Devils Garden between the fins
The next set of challenges is going to be traversing a number of rock fins, some butt sliding down and some with friction walking. If you’re scared of heights or don’t have grippy shoes this next area is going to give you some pause.
Slick rock sections
More slickrock sections
Soon the trail will become much easier to follow, there are a couple of tricky turns but just watch for the signs marking the right way to go.
The remainder of the hike is just a long walk on a rolling sandy trail back to landscape Arch and then continuing along the trail out to the entrance.

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