Hike-in Required
No
Open Year-round
?
ADA accessible
No
Guided tours
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Willow Springs Road is a backdoor road into Arches National Park that avoids the toll gate assuming you walk, mountain bike or drive a four-wheel drive vehicle along the rocky and sandy road for the 4-mile stretch that ends at Balance Rock and the paved road. Willow Springs Road begins by turning east off Highway 191, which is west of the park's borders. You will eventually see a large sign marking the spot when you have entered the national park. Past the sign you must obey all of the park's rules.

Along the way sits a giant set of rocks sticking out of the desert landscape west of Willow Flats that overlook the Balance Rock and Windows Section in the distance. The best part is there is really no one out here other than the occasional passing Jeep. The solitude is rare treat in one of the more popular parks in the country. There are some beautiful and unusual sights to see along this road that are not seen by most people visiting the area.

Just west of the park's marker are dinosaur tracks though what was once mud and what is now hardened slickrock. There is a ton of dispersed camping along both sides of the road west of the park's entry sign. There are several mountain biking trails in multiple directions along the low rolling hills outside the park boundaries and are well marked. Overall this is a pretty cool spot in terms of how much it offers, however desolate the terrain. As usual in the desert, stay off the cryptobiotic soil and be careful about exposure and dehydration.

Two-wheel drive and lower profile cars can drive east on Willow Spring Road relatively easily until the sign that signifies the park boundary. East of there is the Jeep trail. While there are some deep sandy spots along the way, it is a fun ride overall.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Dinosaur prints. Access to Arches without having to pay the entrance fee. Bikeable and hikeable. Dispersed camping outside of the park boundaries.

Cons

Need a very high-clearance car to access. Can be impassable in heavy weather.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Features

Wildflowers
Big vistas
Sand Dunes
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

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