Looking for an in-depth trail guide for hiking to Jeep Arch in Moab, Utah? Then keep reading!
In this article I share a detailed trail description, along with tips on hiking in Moab, and a map that takes you to the trailhead. Get ready to hike to one of the best hidden gems in Moab, Utah!
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About Jeep Arch
Jeep Arch, also known as Gold Bar Arch, may just be my favorite hikes in Moab. It’s dog-friendly, not open to mountain bikes or OHVs, and the best part? There are no fees! The trail strikes a nice balance between being fairly easy while providing some tricky obstacles to navigate, which makes this desert hike so fun. The pinnacle of the hike involves hiking through a towering sandstone arch that bears a remarkable resemblance to Moab’s favorite motorized vehicle.
The hike to Jeep Arch isn’t as popular as some of the other well-known arches in Moab, and you may be lucky enough to have most of the trail to yourself if you hike at sunrise or visit in the winter, but since it has easy access and it’s a low-effort, high-reward type of hike, it can see a fair amount of traffic during peak season in the spring and fall.
The trail is suitable for hikers of all levels, but there are a couple portions of the trail that require some light scrambling where using your hands is necessary. These sections aren’t dangerous or exposed, but could be tricky to navigate for small children or older dogs.
The Best Time of Year for Hiking to Jeep Arch
I personally think that winter is the best time to visit Moab (between December-February). The temps can be cold and you may encounter snow, but there are much fewer people on the trail than during other times of the year (although holidays can be busy!). For the most comfortable hiking conditions visit in March, April, October, or November when mornings will be chilly and afternoons will be warm, but bearable. If you’re planning to hike during the summer or on a hot spring/fall day be sure to get an early start so you can be off the trail before the heat of the day.
Getting to the Jeep Arch Trailhead
The trailhead for hiking to Jeep Arch is located on Potash Road outside of Moab. To get there, take Highway 191 to Potash Road (UT-279) and follow it 10 miles to a parking area on your right. The Jeep Arch trailhead is just beyond the trailhead for the more popular Corona Arch.
Even if you’re not planning on hiking Jeep Arch, Potash Road is worth taking a scenic drive down. The road is situated on a small stretch of land between the Colorado River and a towering red sandstone canyon wall.
It’s one the prettiest scenic drives in Moab along a paved road (the road eventually turns to dirt and gradually climbs into Canyonlands National Park, but that is beyond the trailhead for Jeep Arch). You’ll likely encounter some rock climbers on Wall Street belaying right next to the road during your drive, so be sure to drive carefully!
There are first come, first served campsites available near the trailhead if you’re looking for nearby camping. Be aware, that sites fill quickly during most of the year! For your best chances of snagging a spot
Jeep Arch Trailhead Map
Quick Stats for Hiking to Jeep Arch
Jeep Arch Distance: 3.6 miles
Jeep Arch Elevation Gain: 945 ft.
Starting Elevation: 3,963 ft.
Jeep Arch Difficulty (1-10): Moderate, 6
Estimated Time to Hike Jeep Arch: 2-2 ½ hours
Dog Friendly: Yes, dogs should be kept on-leash to protect bighorn sheep breeding habitat.
Jeep Arch Trail Map
Trail Guide: Hiking to Jeep Arch
The hike to Jeep Arch begins by making your way from the parking lot to a portal-like tunnel (aka a large culvert) that crosses beneath train tracks. Jeep Arch is one of the best dog-friendly hikes in Moab. At the beginning of the hike is a sign asking hikers to keep dogs on-leash because the hike goes through bighorn sheep breeding habitat. There are plenty of other trails in Moab where off-leash hiking is permitted, so please be respectful of the restrictions here!
After passing through the portal you enter a rugged desert landscape with towering sandstone walls, juniper trees, red sandy washes, and slickrock trails. Follow the cairns up a hill to the left and hike alongside the train tracks for about 0.1 miles before heading towards the obvious trail on the right.
The initial stretch of the trail to Jeep Arch primarily traverses over slickrock. The trail is well marked with forest green blazes on the slickrock, so it’s not hard to follow (because the trail is so open, but well marked it also makes it a great place to practice basic desert route finding skills). Slickrock is considered a durable surface for Leave No Trace purposes, so it’s okay to roam around and explore, but be mindful to stay on the slickrock (or a developed trail) and off of the cryptobiotic soil, which plays a critical role in preventing erosion in the desert.
Hiking the Loop to Jeep Arch
The hike to Jeep Arch creates a lollipop loop. In other words, you’ll hike the beginning of the trail as an out and back, but eventually the trail diverges and creates a loop that will then take you back to the point of divergence.
After just over a mile of hiking you’ll encounter the trail junction marked with a wooden sign. From here, I would personally recommend completing the loop going clockwise. This will take you around the back of Jeep Arch first, which is where the best views are!
Heading clockwise, you’ll quickly begin to gain elevation as you scramble your way up to a rocky ridge crest. Once you’re beyond the ridge crest you’ll cross a patch of slickrock before following a well-defined trail across the desert.
After a quarter-mile the trail turns North providing the first glimpse of Jeep Arch. Once you’re near the base of the arch you’ll have to scramble up some rocks. Then you’ll be able to walk beneath the arch and get to the other side of the trail. Standing under the arch is an incredible experience and provides spectacular views of the La Sal mountains in the distance.
Once you cross under the arch the trail begins to descend down towards your right. This section of the trail has some loose sections. Make sure to wear hiking boots with good traction and take your time!
The trail eventually leads back to the junction where you began your clockwise loop. From here just follow the same trail you hiked in on across the slickrock, head back down to the tunnel, and make your way back to your car!
Video: Hiking to Jeep Arch
Tips For Hiking in Moab, Utah
Here are some important things to remember when hiking in the desert:
Start early to beat the heat if you’re hiking between May-September.
Carry more water than you think you’ll need. At least a gallon per person per day is recommended for hiking in the desert. However, considering the distance of this trail, carrying 2-3L should be more than enough. Be aware, there aren’t any reliable water sources on the trail. You need to carry enough water for yourself and your dog!
Don’t bust the crust! Many areas of the desert around Moab are covered in biological soil crust, otherwise known as cryptobiotic soil. Cryptobiotic soil plays a critical role in the desert ecosystem and is extremely delicate. It can take years to decades for cryptobiotic soil to recover from damage. This is why it’s so important to stay on trail, or travel over durable surfaces like dry washes or slickrock.
Make sure to pack salty snacks or an electrolyte replenisher like Liquid IV to help prevent dehydration.
You may have cell service intermittently throughout the hike, but it’s not reliable so be sure to download or carry a map and know your route before you go. Also be sure to tell someone where you’re going!
As always, tread lightly and treat the land with respect by following Leave No Trace guidelines!