Canyonlands Mesa Arch Hike

Mesa Arch is a perfect trail for beginners, families with small children or light hikers, and one of Canyonlands National Park's most iconic vistas. It’s easy and short, and a detailed display at the trailhead explains how to hike the trail. Although the NPS manages this trail for beginners, it has something for everybody, and halfway along the short loop you’re treated to spectacular Mesa Arch.

The arch is right on the edge of a 500-foot cliff, part of a 1,200-foot drop into Buck Canyon. You can get a keyhole view of White Rim country through the arch. If you step back a few steps, you can also frame the lofty La Sal Mountains (usually snow-topped in the spring) with the arch.

The trail is well marked and partly on slickrock. It’s an easy hike, but if you have children along, watch them carefully around the arch. There is no fence to prevent a sure-to-be-fatal fall. Do not climb on the arch.

If you look carefully, you can also see another arch from Mesa Arch Overlook — Washer Woman Arch — off to the left when facing the arch.

Overview: A very short walk to a magnificent arch with a spectacular view.

Start: Mesa Arch Trailhead

Distance: 0.5 mile; lollipop loop

Difficulty: Easy

Maps: USGS Musselman Arch; Trails Illustrated Island in the Sky

Finding the trailhead: Drive 6.3 miles south of the Island in the Sky Visitor Center and turn left (east) into the Mesa Arch Parking Area.

Trailhead GPS: 38.389174, -109.868150