Natural Arches Trail

Valley of Fire State Park

Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, Nevada

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Natural Arches Trail

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  • This large balancing rock makes a logical turnaround point.- Natural Arches Trail
  • The parking area for the Natural Arches Trail.- Natural Arches Trail
  • This is the only trailhead marker, located on the east edge of the parking lot near the road.- Natural Arches Trail
  • The first mile of the trail is down a wide, sandy wash.- Natural Arches Trail
  • Huge boulders of all shapes dot the canyon.- Natural Arches Trail
  • About a mile in, the canyon narrows and a few rock scrambles need to be negotiated.- Natural Arches Trail
  • None of the rocks require technical climbing skills.- Natural Arches Trail
  • The rock formations are constant points of interest.- Natural Arches Trail
  • Desert primrose is a surprisingly large wildflower in March, and it smells good too!- Natural Arches Trail
  • Desert mistletoe berries are plentiful and were used by Native Americans for food.- Natural Arches Trail
  • Be on the lookout for the many arches that give this trail its name.- Natural Arches Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Solitude. Beautiful canyon scenery.
Cons: 
Deep sand makes walking an effort.
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Region:
Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, NV
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
229.00 ft (69.80 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
4.80 mi (7.72 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,592.00 ft (485.24 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Valley of Fire State Park can get crowded on weekends, and the short trails described in the day use visitor map are often congested. For the hiker willing to put in a little effort, it can be easy to leave the crowds behind. The Natural Arches Trail is a great place to do just that. Not included on the handout map, the trail is seldom used and offers a wonderful journey into the park's web of canyons and through colorful rock formations. 

The parking lot is on the north side of the main park road just west of a large wash between the road to "the cabins" and Elephant Rock. Park in the gravel lot, look for the tiny trailhead marker near the road, and head down into the wash. This trail is not marked anywhere along the way, but it is easy to follow as it just follows the main wash the entire way. Small side canyons can be a little confusing, but a wrong turn quickly dead ends. Walking on the canyon's soft pink/white sand floor requires a bit more effort, but the lack of significant vertical rise makes up for that. Watch for wildflowers along the way; it is always a wonder to see these delicate plants survive in sand and with such little water.

The wide wash narrows considerably after about a mile, and there are three small rock scrambles to navigate. With each turn of the canyon the shapes and colors of the rock continue to amaze. Keep an eye open for arches, as there are several along the route. The largest arch, for which the trail was named, succumbed to erosion and collapsed several years ago, but the main features of this trail remain: extreme solitude and incredible desert beauty. The hiker can turn back anywhere on the route, but there is a huge balancing rock at 2.4 miles that offers shade and a natural turning point.

Note: there is little shade on this hike, so an early start and plenty of water are very important.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(10 within a 30 mile radius)

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