Tower Arch Moab: Utah Trail In Arches National Park
The Tower Arch Moab hike is one of my favorite trails in Arches National Park, and it’s still a hidden gem without the crowds you’ll see at other scenic places in Utah.
The short and beginner-friendly Tower Arch trail leads you to a gigantic sandstone arch, which gets its name from the big rock steeple that seems to rise from the top of the arch when you view it from the front.
This guide will explain where to find the Tower Arch trailhead, and everything you need to know before you go!
- Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km) round trip
- Elevation Gain: 600 feet (180 m)
- Duration: 1.5 – 2.5 hours round trip
- Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Tower Arch Trail: What To Expect
The Tower Arch Moab hike starts with a brief but steep climb up a hill on some slickrock.
After this, the middle part of the trail gives you nice views of Salt Valley, the Klondike Bluffs, and a row of rock towers nicknamed the ‘Marching Men.’
The path is not always well marked, so keep following the rock cairns as you go. I would’ve got lost a couple times without them.
There are lots of these cairns along the Tower Arch trail, so it makes navigation a bit easier.
The difficulty level of this hike really depends on how hot it is when you go. A blistering hot day will make this hike moderate.
The sign at the trailhead saying ‘minor ups and downs’ is a bit misleading. The trail is uphill both ways, with a fair amount of elevation gain for such a short hike.
It’s still short though, and only took me about 45 minutes each way.
One of the last parts of the trail near the arch is an uphill slog through loose sand, which can be extra challenging on a hot day.
Just before you reach the Tower Arch, you’ll pass another arch on your right called the Parallel Arch, which is smaller but still neat.
This one is easy to miss on the way in, but it’s easier to spot as you’re leaving.
The first sight of Tower Arch is exciting, but I think the view from the opposite side is even better!
This arch is 92 feet wide, and like some other arches in the park, you can walk through the middle and look at the arch from the other side, where you get a real sense of its size.
It’s a huge arch, so even with a wide angle lens you have to do a little bit of scrambling on the slick rock in the corner below the arch to get the best pictures of it.
There’s an inscription in the base of the arch that was left by Alex Ringhoffer, an early explorer who played a part in having the Arches area designated originally as a national monument.
Another thing you notice is the lack of crowds. There are no people on this hike at all! We did Tower Arch on a Sunday in September, and didn’t see a single person on the whole trail, although there were a few at the arch.
The shadow under the arch makes a nice spot to relax and rest in the shade!
Tower Arch Trailhead
The Tower Arch trailhead is located in the upper northwest corner (aka Klondike Bluffs area) of Arches National Park.
GPS coordinates: 38.793799211452004, -109.67459867454288
You can also use the Google map below to navigate you directly to the parking area, which is a 1 hour drive from the town of Moab, Utah.
The road to the Tower Arch trailhead is one of the only unfinished roads in Arches National Park.
After you turn onto Salt Valley Road from the Arches Scenic Drive, you’ll spend about 8 miles on a gravel and dirt road.
It should be passable by most vehicles when it’s dry, although I wouldn’t recommend coming here soon after a rain.
When you arrive at the trailhead there’s a very clean vault toilet (one of the cleanest I’ve seen in a national park!), along with an information sign and basic trail map.
Alternative Trailhead (4WD)
If you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, there’s a second trailhead that is closer to the Tower Arch and shortens the hiking distance to only 0.5 miles roundtrip.
The road to this alternative trailhead is extremely rough with big rocks on it, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a very capable 4 wheel drive vehicle with lots of clearance.
We went partway up this road in my 4WD Toyota Tacoma, but the rocks got bad enough I decided it wasn’t worth it, and we went to the main Tower Arch trailhead instead.
Best Time To Visit
The Tower Arch Utah hike is spectacular at any time of day, and crowds are never a concern here, so it doesn’t really matter when you go, although the trail will be hotter in mid-day.
Our photos on this page were taken on a September morning at about 11 AM, and we were able to get photos of the arch from both sides without any bad glare from the sun.
U.S. National Park Regulations
The Tower Arch Utah trail is part of Arches National Park, so the usual U.S. national park regulations apply.
As always, please remember to keep the trail clean, be considerate of other hikers, and leave no trace. Thanks and happy travels!
You’ll need a park pass to enter Arches National Park, but it’s pretty easy to get and you can buy it online or in person.
We normally get the annual pass and visit several U.S. parks in a year, but they also have daily passes. More information and current fees can be found on the Arches National Park website.
Starting in 2022, a timed entry permit will also be required to enter the Arches National Park during peak months and hours. This is a new pilot program intended to cut down on crowding.
More Utah Travel Guides
I hope you enjoyed this guide for the Tower Arch Moab trail in Arches National Park, Utah.
Don’t forget to check out my other Utah hiking guides before you go!