Arch Canyon is a scenic drive through a canyon with a perennial stream. Hotel Rock is a steep, rough climb up the mesa from which Arch Canyon was carved. Anasazi ruins can be found along both trails, but especially in Arch Canyon.
Be aware that the upper half of Arch is designated as critical habitat for the Mexican Spotted Owl, this is the BLM’s current travel plan for the trail:
In Arch Canyon, OHV use will be limited to the designated route up to the National Forest boundary, a total of 8 miles one-way. Organized and commercial groups will be required to obtain a Special Recreation Use Permit. This permit will allow access on the designated route up to the National Forest boundary, except from March 1 through August 31. During this period, access will be limited to 7.5 miles of the designated route and access will not be allowed on the last half mile immediately before the National Forest Service boundary. This decision was based on the fact that all of the riparian areas in Arch Canyon are in properly functioning condition and this condition has not been affected by existing OHV use. In addition, by limiting OHV travel to the designated route, any potential impacts to cultural resources will be minimized. Excluding travel in the upper 0.5 mile of the route during the period March 1 through August 31 would mitigate any impacts of noise disturbance on Mexican spotted owls during the breeding season.
The definitions of “organized and commercial groups” has some degree of ‘gray area’ at this time, for that reason it is our recommendation that all organized groups (even 4×4 clubs) contact the BLM Monticello Field Office and discuss the potential need for a permit. If you plan to travel to the area with a couple of freinds or family members, your likely good to go, but if you’ll be running the trail with 15 other member of a club or forum, make the call. Keep in mind the permit process can take up to 180 days so allow plenty of time before your planned trip to the area.
Part way up Arch Canyon. You cross the creek over 50 times on the 10 mile drive to the end of the vehicle route at the Manti-la Sal National Forest boundary.
Keep an ear peeled for wild turkeys:
The road ends underneath Cathedral Arch, there is also a decent campsite here. This part of the canyon has a delightful combination of soaring sandstone walls, a clear running creek and ponderosa pines.
Similar looking Angel Arch is a short hike up from the end of the road
One of the more obvious ruins. There are dozens of sites throughout the canyon.
Arch Canyon, as seen from the overlook on Hotel Rock trail.
The Hotel Rock trail is faint and hard to follow much of the way. The GPS track should come in handy here. Highway 95 cuts through Comb Ridge in the background.
The toughest part of Hotel Rock Trail cuts up and over this spine of rock.
Hotel Rock marks the end of the worst part of the trail. You can continue all of the way to Elk Mountain Road or turn around and go back down the way you came.
Public lands are continually being reconsidered in this region and it wouldn’t be completely unrealistic to see one or more sections of the Arch Canyon and Hotel Rock Trails re-routed or eliminated for motorized vehicles. We will attempt to update this article as often as possible, if you see a change we have not addressed, please let us know. Lastly, always check with state and federal land management agencies prior to embarking on a trip.
Comb Ridge 4×4 Trail
Comb Wash 4×4 Trail
Elk Mountain Routes into the Beef Basin & Dark Canyon
Arch Canyon & Hotel Rock GPX File
Comb Wash BLM Camping Area (dispersed primitive camping w/vault restrooms)
Planning a Trip:
Food/Water/Fuel: Full amenities are available in nearby Blanding, Utah.
(Last Updated 08/18/09)