Royal Arch Hike

Boulder Mountain Park

Denver Metro Area, Colorado

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Royal Arch Hike

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  • View of the Flatirons along Bluebell Road.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Bluebell Road Shelter.- Royal Arch Hike
  • View of the Third Flatiron with climbers summiting.- Royal Arch Hike
  • View of the Third Flatiron with climbers summiting.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest along the Royal Arch Trail.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Talus field along the Royal Arch Trail.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Talus field along the Royal Arch Trail.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Mountain gumweed (Grindelia subalpina).- Royal Arch Hike
  • Royal Arch Trail.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Steep switchbacks on the Royal Arch Trail.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Short scramble down after passing the saddle.- Royal Arch Hike
  • Royal Arch.- Royal Arch Hike
  • View of the Denver area Great Plains from Royal Arch.- Royal Arch Hike
  • View back north of the Third Flatiron.- Royal Arch Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Unique geological feature. Expansive views over Boulder/Great Plains.
Cons: 
Extremely crowded. Limited parking.
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Region:
Denver Metro Area, CO
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,200.00 ft (365.76 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
3.20 mi (5.15 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,710.00 ft (1,740.41 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

This is a very scenic, moderately difficult hike up the gentle slopes of Green Mountain outside of Boulder. The highlight is a natural rock arch spanning about 20 feet of air, which the trail passes right beneath. The view from here is great as well, stretching all the way to Denver's skyline and across the Great Plains.

Multiple routes in the mountain park link up with the Royal Arch Trail, but the most direct access via Bluebell Road, from either Chautauqua main parking or Enchanted Mesa parking. Walk up to Bluebell Shelter and begin the trail from there.

The hike begins as a gradual incline through shady Bluebell Canyon. Soon you will start to switchback up a piney ridge and gain a vantage of Boulder and the surrounding landscape, including the Flatirons. You will drop down again for a short distance, then back up, starting a somewhat steep, final climb. Soon after the start of this steep section you will pass Tangen Spring, which trickles with water most of the year. There is a small cave here that kids (or adults) can crawl into and explore. For the more intrepid spelunkers, climbing up and out the back of the cave affords a great view of the arch that not many people get to see.

Royal Arch is an eroded outcrop of the Fountain Formation, the hardened sandstone layer that is exposed all along this part of the Rocky Mountain front. It is the same type of rock that makes the nearby Flatirons. Once you reach this spot, take time to relax in the shade, rehydrate, take in the views, and enjoy your reward for finishing the hike.

Note: This is a Voice and Sight Trail, which means that dogs are permitted off leash with the following conditions: (1) Guardians must be registered in the Voice and Sight Tag Program, (2) Voice and Sight Tags must be displayed on the dogs, (3) Guardian has a leash for each dog, with no more than two dogs.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(12 within a 30 mile radius)

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(89 within a 30 mile radius)

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