Utah is a land bestowed with many natural wonders, and a lot of these are of the rock variety. If natural arches are your thing, then Moab is the place to be. The crowds at Arches National Park can be quite brutal in spring and summer, but there are other options for rock-seekers that offer impressive specimens and less human traffic. Morning Glory Arch on the Grandstaff Trail is one such destination; a cooling stream along the trail, little elevation gain, and the namesake arch are all reasons to put this one on you’re list the next time your in the Moab area.
The hike begins at the Grandstaff Trailhead just outside outside of town. It should be noted that this trailhead was renamed in 2016, and some folks might know it by its previous (more odious) moniker. The parking area is small, but additional space can be found on the shoulder of Highway 128. The initial view gives little hint as to the picturesque two mile hike to come, but trust me, it’s worth it!
The trail rises and falls gently as the often sandy route crosses the stream several times. On hot days, hikers can stride right up the waterway if they want a little relief. Leafy trees and shrubs provide some relief from the sun’s rays for the first half of the hike. After about a mile, the trail makes it’s biggest climb up to a slickrock shelf, and hikers are treated to their first views of Morning Glory Arch.
The arch is a bit tough to make out at first. Because it is situated in an alcove, it almost blends in to the red stone walls around it. But once you get under the towering 75’ tall span, it is indeed impressive. Morning Glory Arch has been measured at 243’, putting it near the top of the list for the largest in the area. A trickle of water flows down the alcove, and this shady zone is an ideal place for a leisurely rest before you head back the way you came.
The Morning Glory Arch hike clocks in at approximately four miles round trip. The short amount of time needed to complete the journey makes it the perfect way to start/end a day, or a great family hike for those with youngsters. Beat the crowds and still get your arch fix with this Utah favorite!
Getting There: From the north side of Moab, head east on Highway 128. Three miles later, the Grandstaff Trailhead will be on the south side of the road. The trailhead has vault toilets and visitor information.