Arches National Park


Rock climbing at Arches is a challenging proposition. The soft Entrada sandstone that comprises most of the rock formations here is not exactly the sturdiest medium around, while the extreme climate quickly weakens webbing and slings. Still, climbing has been going on here since long before there was such a thing as Arches National Park, and the thrill of mounting the area's majestic towers renders any technical difficulties thoroughly insignificant in comparison.


One of the most popular routes in the park is Owl Rock, a squat 100-foot spire that sits by the Garden of Eden parking lot down the Windows area access road. Follow the well-defined crack system up this 5.8 to a rounded summit.

Also in the Windows area, the Tonka Tower is the middle of three prominent towers southwest of Turret Arch. It's also a 5.8 and rises 150 feet above the desert floor.

The highest concentration of technical climbs in Arches lies in the area just past the visitor center at the entrance to the park along the main road. The climb closest to the park entrance is the Three Penguins, so called because of their resemblance to flightless Antarctic waterfowl, who no doubt feel a little out of place under the blazing Utah sun. The Right Chimney (not really a chimney) in this group is a good free climb; the other two (real) chimneys are great fun for extremely thin climbers, and nearly impassable for the rest of us (the route on the left is called Anorexia).

A little further down the road in the Courthouse Towers area of the park are the Three Gossips. Park at the Courthouse Towers/Park Avenue parking area on the south side of the park road and walk about a quarter-mile west. Here take a path up the slickrock slope that forms the base above which the Three Gossips rise some 300 feet. There are three routes up the formation to some delicately balanced summits.

The Dark Angel formation is one of the few climbs in the Devils Garden area. While not the most technically attractive route, it does offer relative solitude in one of the park's most beautiful settings.


It the responsibility of all climbers to know and obey park regulations and route closures. The following regulations are in effect:

1. Use of motorized drills is prohibited.
2. Climbing is prohibited on any arch identified on current USGS 7.5 minute topographical maps, on Balanced Rock year-round, on Bubo from January 1 to June 30, on Industrial Disease on the Devil Dog Spire from January 1 to June 30.
3. The use of chalk for climbing must be of a color that blends with the native rock.
4. Climbers are encouraged to employ clean-climbing ethics, leave dull-colored webbing when recovery is impossible, and access climbing routes via established trails, slickrock, or sandy washes.

Permits are not required for climbing unless the trip involves an overnight stay in the backcountry.


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