Hiking in Utah
Adventures in Camping, Backpacking, and Canyoneering

Arches National Park:
Park Avenue


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Trailhead and Map | Trail Description
Distance and Difficulty | Hiking Time | What to Bring

GPS Coordinates and Map

South Park Avenue Trailhead, USGS The Windows Section, Arches. Click HERE to view the approximate starting coordinates and map.

Trail Description

Park Avenue Viewpoint
"Time for a walk!" -- With my daughter at Park Avenue Viewpoint trailhead
Although this trail is bypassed by many, this is the ideal hike to introduce you to the park (Arches National Park Website - http://www.nps.gov/arch/). You can reach the trailhead more than a mile from the entrance. There is a parking lot on the left side of the road. The full length of the trail connects the Park Avenue Viewpoint with the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint about .82 miles north, as the crow flies (about a mile for the actual trail), so you will need a car shuttle unless you retrace your route.

Most visitors to the park stop at the Park Avenue Viewpoint, snap a few pictures, and return to their cars without really exploring this amazing trail along dry wash bed between enormous towering walls of red sandstone. It becomes obvious how this area got its name. However, you will miss so much of the park and even its wildlife if you go no farther. From the Park Avenue Viewpoint heading north, you will follow some roughly-made steps for a short distance down into the wash and then the rest of the trail is mark by cairns along the way. The area is populated by a few strangely-twisted juniper trees that will interest all visitors.

Park Avenue Wash
"Where did the river go?" -- In the dry wash in Park Avenue
Along the way, there are a number of prominent rock formations that you might not otherwise notice including Sausage Rock (N 38.37.717, W 109.36.126), Queen Nefertiri Rock (N 38.37.665, W 109.36.172), Queen Victoria Rock (N 38.37.830, W 109.36.008), and Courthouse Towers (N 38.37.897, W 109.36.141). Of course, these formations won't jump out at you; you'll have to use a little imagination and a GPS to pinpoint them.

After a while, the trail opens up to a wide dry wash, filled here and there with a number of shallow sandstone basins or ephemeral pools (potholes) carved out by erosion. One of the best kept secrets of the desert is what occasionally springs forth from water that collects in these potholes. One of these invertebrates is the small fairy and tadpole shrimp. For most of their lives, they lie dormant as eggs buried in the dirt at the bottom of these potholes.

The Three Gossips
"Psst! Let me tell you a secret." -- View of the Three Gossips
Then, when rain fills these holes and the temperatures are just right, these eggs spring alive, hatch, mate, and then lay eggs of their own in their short life spans (perhaps in a matter of weeks), all before the potholes dry up. Then, their eggs lie dormant to repeat the cycle until the weather conditions are just right, which might be the next season or years later.

Once you reach what I named Gossip Rock Viewpoint---a big rock--(N 38.37.957, W 109.36.034), you will see the Three Gossips to your left (Northwest) at (N 38.38.150, W 109.36.193). Climb up and take a picture. From there, you will reach the end of the trail at N 38.38.190, W 109.36.001. The last feature you might see is The Organ, east of the road at N 38.38.180, W 109.35.874.

Distance and Difficulty

An easy (and downhile) one-mile hike, losing about 300 feet in elevation starting at the Park Avenue Trailhead.

Hiking Time

About 45 minutes, with time for taking pictures and absorbing the views.

What to Bring

Nothing particular besides good hiking shoes.

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