Fisher Towers Trail
The Fisher Towers Trail explores the Fisher Towers, one of the Utah canyon country’s most bizarre landscapes. The area is a maze of soaring fins, pinnacles, minarets, gargoyles, spires, and strangely shaped rock formations east of Moab. The towers, soaring monuments to erosion, are composed of dark red Cutler sandstone topped by harder Moenkopi sandstone and draped with mud curtains.
The 2.6-mile trail twists through the towers, dipping into sharp canyons and traversing beneath vertical cliffs, to its far southern terminus, forming a 5.2-mile round-trip hike. You can, however, hike out as far as you want before turning around and retracing your steps back to the trailhead. Many day hikers end their trek at the ridge below Ancient Art, a rock formation with a corkscrew-shaped summit, or at the base of Cottontail Tower’s west ridge, one-way hikes of 0.5 and 1.0 mile, respectively.
The single-track Fisher Towers Trail has both a dirt and rock pavement surface. It’s easy to follow and is well marked with cairns or rock stacks to point the way. No shade is found on the trail, so plan your hike accordingly on hot days. It’s best in the early morning or evening. Remember to bring plenty of water, use sunscreen, and wear a hat.
Begin your Fisher Towers hike at the trailhead and parking lot north of the area. At the trailhead is a trail sign, register, and a pit toilet. Nearby is a small BLM campground. The trail descends a short hill, crosses slickrock, and drops into a canyon. At the bottom, the trail climbs out a side canyon and winds around the west side of Ancient Art. After 0.75 mile the trail reaches a viewpoint south of Ancient Art. A climber’s trail goes up left to the spire.
The trail contours into a canyon and then traverses rocky slopes below the north face of looming Cottontail Tower, an 800-foot-high spire. The trail reaches the base of the sharp west ridge of Cottontail after a mile. The bedrock here makes a good resting spot. Lots of hikers turn around here and return to the trailhead.
The next trail segment heads east below the sheer south face of Cottontail on a rock bench before dipping into a canyon. Descend a six-step metal ladder into the canyon, then follow the trail which contours across rocky slopes into another canyon. Past here the trail slowly climbs around The Titan, the tallest of the Fisher Towers and a popular ascent for rock climbers. At 2.0 miles, near the base of The Titan, the trail slips through a stone notch and then edges across an exposed ledge. Watch your footing here if it’s wet or snowy.
The trail climbs away from The Titan, following sloping sandstone ledges, and after 2.2 miles climbs onto a high ridge. Enjoy great views of the Fisher Towers and the distant Colorado River Canyon to the north, and to the west a long ridge studded with tall pinnacles including Castleton Tower and The Priest. This is also a good turn-around point if you’re tired.
Finish the hike by following the wide sandstone ridge southwest for 0.4 mile, passing above deep canyons which plunge south into Onion Creek’s canyon. The trail ends atop a rounded rocky knoll with more fabulous views. After a good rest and drink of water, follow the trail back to the parking area. It goes fast since it’s all downhill.
Overview: A maze of soaring sandstone towers surrounds you on this moderate hike to a high ridge above Onion Creek.
Distance: 5.2 miles out and back
Approximate hiking time: 2 to 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate; 650-foot elevation gain
Trail surface: Single-track dirt and slickrock trail
Best season: Year-round. Summers are hot.
Other trail users: None. Bicycles not allowed.
Canine compatibility: Dogs allowed on leash
Fees and permits: No fee
Maps: USGS Fisher Towers, Moab Trails Illustrated Explorer
Trail contacts: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Moab Field Office, 82 E. Dogwood, Moab 84532; (435) 259-2100; website
Finding the trailhead: Drive north from Moab on US 191 and just before the Colorado River Bridge, turn right (east) onto UT 128/River Road. Follow this paved highway for 21 miles to a turnoff marked Fisher Towers. Turn right (south) and follow a dirt road southeast for another 2 miles to a parking area and campground.
Trailhead GPS: N 38 43.489', W 109 18.531'