Can You Handle the Fiery Furnace Hike at Arches National Park?

October 25, 2016Travel Ideas
– Vineesh Agrawal, Share the Experience

Spanning over 76,000 acres in eastern Utah, Arches National Park is a stunning landscape of contrasting colors and texture unlike any other. The park is home to the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, along with sandstone towers, turrets, pinnacles, and countless other landforms. It also offers some truly extraordinary hiking trails—including a meandering labyrinth known as Fiery Furnace.

Fiery Furnace

One of the most popular and most challenging hikes in Arches National Park, Fiery Furnace spans a roughly 2-mile route between towering, maze-like canyon walls. Exploring it is a spectacular, otherworldly experience not without its challenges. Unlike many hiking trails, which feature steep climbs and high elevations, Fiery Furnace tests your ability to keep your bearings and find solid footing in a disorienting place. There are no trail signs or markers, and GPS units have a tendency to fail among the lofty sandstone walls. Navigating the difficult passages takes stamina, agility, and acute attention to detail.

Double arches in the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

The double arches in Fiery Furnace

National Park Service

Ranger-guided tours

For those who have never tackled the Fiery Furnace hike before, the National Park Service highly recommends joining a ranger-led tour. This is partly due to the difficulty of the terrain, but also because visitors must choose their steps wisely to protect the fragile ecosystem that exists between the canyon walls. Experienced park rangers lead tours of Fiery Furnace throughout spring, summer, and fall. Because of the maze-like layout of Fiery Furnace, all participants who start on a guided hike are committed to finishing it.

Ranger leading a tour of people on a Fiery Furnace hike at Arches National Park.
Andrew Kuhn, National Park Service

Before you commit to entering Fiery Furnace, be aware of the demanding nature of the hike, and make an honest assessment of your abilities. Be prepared to walk and climb on and around irregular sandstone, narrow ledges, loose sand, and steep drop-offs. Extreme changes in weather and temperature are always a possibility, and you must be able to jump across gaps and pull yourself up through narrow spaces. 

If it sounds difficult, that's because it is, but the rewards are extraordinary. Taking part in a guided tour of Fiery Furnace gives you a chance to experience a landscape unlike any other, and to learn more about this extraordinary place. 

Hiking permits

People squeezing through rocks on a Fiery Furnace hike at Arches National Park.
Finn Lowden, Share the Experience

If you choose not to join a ranger-led tour, you must obtain a hiking permit to enter the Fiery Furnace. For safety, all members of your hiking party must be present when the permit is issued, and you must watch a short orientation video before you depart. Permits are available at the Arches Visitor Center during regular business hours. Children under 5 years of age are not permitted to enter the Fiery Furnace, and children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

View of scenery near Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
Jon Manjeot, Share the Experience

Arches National Park is full of surprises, and the Fiery Furnace hike is surely among them. Located just past the turn-off to the iconic Delicate Arch—another must-visit site while you're in the park—the Fiery Furnace offers a hiking experience you'll remember for a lifetime.

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