If you didn't read my post titled "The Desert" you wouldn't know this, but just to make sure I thoroughly embarrass myself on as many posts as possible Ill say it again: I cried multiple times while hiking Devils Garden.
I rarely give consideration to trails that do not permit dogs. Devil's Garden was an exception I made begrudgingly. It was recommended by NON-dog-having friends (I have, like, two of those) and I was attracted to the words 'primitive trail' and 'six named arches'. It was absolutely worth leaving the fluffy ones behind, although because of that restriction I don't feel the need to return.
When doing my research on this popular hike within the boundaries of Arches National Park I noticed that there's a lot of talk of "do this hike counterclockwise". We didn't. I wish that we had for the sole reason that we were in a time crunch to get back to Salt Lake and as almost all named arches are on the 6-12 side we weren't sure how much time to budget at each. Additionally, because all of the arches are on one side most hikers make their trip an out and back by picking which arch they want to make it to then turning around once they visited it, making the 6-12 side much more crowded. If you want to escape the crowds quickly into your trek I suggestthe counterclockwise route. Regardless of your route there will be an endless line of tourists waiting to get their Instagram worthy snap at each of the arches.
Honestly, if you’re trying to completely avoid crowds when going to a national park, you would be better served if you just didn’t go to a national park and instead took advantage of the millions of acres of BLM land that make up 42 percent of the state of Utah.
Our group, made up of my husband's sister, his parents, and myself, muscled this hike quickly and fairly easily. There are a few tricky spots where you will be climbing up sandstone and if you don't pay close attention to the Cairns you will find yourself literally lost in the desert. If you were looking for something simple there are dozens of .3 mile walks off the paved road to observe some of the grander arches.
There are many vertigo inspiring heights throughout this hike, but the sensation you get in your heart when walking down the fin of a sandstone giant completely conquers the weak knee feeling. I was constantly turning back to my troop and exclaiming "can you BELIEVE this is the TRAIL?!" It was, by all definitions of the word, unbelievable.
If I had to pick a favorite, which I don't, but I will, I would say Navajo Arch takes the top honors. The arch is more of a doorway into a roofless cave and when standing silently under the generous shade it provides you can imagine people of the past seeking refuge from the unforgiving desert sun in the very spot you rest. Really though, each arch has unique characteristics and charm and should be celebrated for their differences. Man, I wish people treated each other with the same sentiment, but that's a whole other topic for a different forum.
Anyways... while there are seven named arches there are plenty more to spot and gawk at. As a family we took it upon ourselves to identify additional arches and name them after ourselves. Sorry if you were hoping to do the same, but they are all taken.
Instead of providing my typical descriptions of viewpoints and places of interest on the trail I am going to leave that to the photos below. We made a group decision to skip Dark Angel, Pine Tree Arch, and Tunnel arch because of time constraints. Tunnel and Pine Tree Arch are both located before the trail splits off and are only about a quarter mile from the trailhead so we felt that they could be visited again at a different time if we needed to scratch that itch. Dark Angel is on the furthest end of the trail but as it isn't an actual arch and, again, we were being conscious of people making their flights home we had to bypass it.
As a National Park trail all of the spur trails leading to the named arches are well marked and worth your time to see. Take advantage of the hundreds of dog friendly trails in the BLM lands then leave those stinkers in the AC for a few hours and enjoy!