Delicate Arches and a Fiery Furnace

Arches national park is full of… arches. Duh! But did you realize that there are over 2,000 of these bad boys in the park? Nobody knows the exact number because wind and water constantly work their power through a cycle of destruction and creation. This desert landscape may look slightly different in a couple days, and within the next decade the observant traveler will notice big changes.

Delicate Arch, the iconic symbol of the state of Utah (it kinda looks like there’s a tiny person dancing on my knuckle)

The Fiery Furnace is an area within Arches national park that looks like a maze of red sandstone fins and spires. To enter this formidable area, one must join a rancher-guided hike or jump through a couple of hoops to get a back country permit. In the true spirit of adventure (and because there were no tickets available), I opted to go in alone.

Since there’s no designated trail, my “hike” in Fiery Furnace was more like an exploration. I scrambled, backtracked, wandered, and gradually found my way through this geological puzzle. Eventually I reached a point where I could not safely pass through without the risk of being unable to retrace my steps. It was a dead end. Expecting this, I turned around and began the trek back to the trail head, but not before climbing up one of the furnaces to get a pretty good look at my surroundings.

The view from the top of a “furnace” spire

I can now say that I survived the Fiery Furnace.


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