Mesa Arch


Mesa Arch is one of the shortest hikes in Canyonlands National Park, and hikers are rewarded with one of the most impressive settings for an arch. Mesa Arch is perched on the edge of mesa cliff, which drops off 1300 feet to the bottom of the canyon. Stunning vista from the arch and well-known for being one of the most picturesque arches at sunrise.

Mesa Arch Hike Details

Distance – 0.6 miles roundtrip
Approximate hiking time – 30 minutes
Elevation at trailhead – 6147 feet
Elevation at Mesa Arch – 6117 feet
Difficulty – Easy, although long drop offs near Mesa Arch
Trail – well-marked dirt trail lined with rocks
Amount of water recommended – 1 liters
Bathrooms – Yes, at the trailhead
Seasons to hike – All seasons, although best from March to November
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – No, In a National Park, no dogs are allowed

How to get there:

Take Interstate 70 to Exit 182 Crescent Jct/Moab onto US Hwy 191. Head south on US Hwy 191 for 20.4 miles. Turn right (West) onto UT Hwy 313. If coming from south from Moab, from downtown Moab take US Hwy 191 north for 11.0 miles and then turn left (East) onto UT Hwy 313. There are signs for Canyonlands National Park in both directions along US Hwy 191.
Follow UT 313 for 14.5 miles. UT 313 will then turn left and go to Dead Horse Point State Park. You will continue straight on the same road, which is now called Island in the Sky Road. Continue straight on this road for 13.1 miles, during which you’ll come to the Park Entrance booth. The fee is $10 per vehicle and is valid for 7 days. At the booth you’ll receive a map of the park. Head down the main road for 7.2 miles which will take about 12 minutes. The Mesa Arch trailhead will be on your left.

Hitting the Trail!

This hike is a very easy trail that is a loop hike, even though it can be done as an up and back. It’s only a ten minute walk to the arch, and is very popular. As you make you to Mesa Arch you will begin to see why this is such a great arch. The span of Mesa Arch isn’t very big. It’s not like the nearby Delicate Arch or Landscape Arch found in Arches National Park. What makes this arch so special is it’s location. It is right on the edge of the mesa, with a precipitous drop. Hikers need to take great care around the arch. Hikers are permitted to walk on top of Mesa Arch, but know that it can be very windy and one misstep could cause a 1300 foot fall.

Mesa Arch

The author posing on Mesa Arch

Mesa Arch

This is the breathtaking view looking through Mesa Arch

The view looking through Mesa Arch is spectacular. This spot is particularly popular at sunrise. It is common to see a dozen photographers jockeying for a good spot at that time. At sunrise the sunlight hits the underside of the arch making it glow a rich orange color.

This is a great hike to get your leg muscles warmed up for some other hikes around Canyonlands! Your Canyonlands experience is off to a great start!

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To see more of our favorite hikes in this area, click here.


About Author

Adam is an experienced hiker and canyoneer, who has visited some of the most breathtaking and remote places in the United States. As an instructor for Desert and Wilderness Survival, and for Leave No Trace camping practices, he shares his passion and respect for the outdoors to all. Adam is currently a Scoutmaster in the Boy Scout of America, and is an Eagle Scout. As the founder of, his goal is to educate others on the joys of hiking.

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