Arches National Park Fiery Furnace

Arches Fiery Furnace: Ranger Guided or Self Guided

The Arches Fiery Furnace is a restricted section of Arches National Park which is located near Moab, Utah.  In the Fiery Furnace, you’ll experience a network of fins and sandstone formations which create a monstrous maze just waiting to be explored.

You must have a permit or be with a ranger to enter the Arches Fiery Furnace. There are no established trails.  It has purposefully been left wild.

Arches Fiery Furnace Sign

If you want to explore the Arches Fiery Furnace, you have 2 options. One is to sign up for a ranger guided hike. The other is to obtain a permit to hike on your own. Both include a nominal fee.  We have hiked the Fiery Furnace with a ranger and on our own.

Regardless of which method you choose, I suggest spending some time with a map to get a general familiarity with the lay of the land. In addition, spend some time in the mandatory orientation reviewing the aerial photo. There you will see the entrance and an exit to the Arches Fiery Furnace.

Arches Fiery Furnace

If you hike with a ranger, all you have to do is follow the leader. He or she will share with you the best/safest way to navigate various obstacles. You also get the benefit of the information they share.

Hiking on your own is a very different experience. There is no trail! Repeat, there is no trail! If you think you are following a trail, you’re not!

Arches Fiery Furnace
It is easy to forget that there are no actual trails. This is just a wash.

As you’re deciding whether to go with a guide or on your own in the Arches Fiery Furnace, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  1. There are small arrows which point you on the route roughly taken on the ranger guided hike. However, the signs blend in with the rock and are difficult to spot. Are these tiny arrows someone’s idea of a cruel joke?!?!?Arches Fiery FurnaceArches Fiery Furnace-10

    Arches Fiery Furnace
    It is hard to see these microscopic arrows which are only a few inches! The color blends perfectly into the rock!
  2. Since there is no actual trail, there is nothing other than those minuscule signs to indicate you are actually going on the route towards the exit. Is there another way out? Probably, but who knows?Arches Fiery Furnace-9 trip
  3. It would be really easy to get lost. I cannot stress this point enough! Even if you are awesome with direction, the rock barriers make this skill of minimal value.Arches Fiery Furnace-11 trip
  4. If you’re on your own, you won’t know the easy way to navigate. At one point in the hike, we realized after hiking down this steep crack that the easier path was just around the corner.

    Arches Fiery Furnace
    We shimmied down this crack only to later find an easier (and less scary) way down.
  5. Hiking in the Arches Fiery Furance involves scrambling and uneven surfaces. There are also several areas with drop offs. This hike is not for someone with mobility problems or claustrophobia.Arches Fiery Furnace
  6. It is called the Fiery Furnace for a reason. It can get quite hot.Arches National Park Fiery Furnace Hike
  7. If you go without a ranger, you really don’t know how long it will take to complete the hike, so prepare accordingly. Be sure to take plenty of water and snacks! It took us about 6 hours.Arches National Park Fiery Furnace Hike
  8. Arches Fiery Furnace is a maze. Seriously! We knew we were in for a long day when it took us an hour just to find the actual entrance and the first sign. If you’ve never been on this hike and are judging me right now, just wait. You’ll discover why it was so hard to find that first sign.Arches National Park Fiery Furnace Hike

While there are several potential hazards if you hike on your own, there are also big payoffs. We were able to explore, discover hidden arches, and enjoy the solitude. Since the number of permits is limited, the Arches Fiery Furnace hike certainly does not feel crowded!

Arches National Park Fiery Furnace Hike

The park service recommends going with a ranger your first time hiking in the Arches Fiery Furnace. We did, and I agree with this recommendation. We certainly didn’t remember the specific route. However, we commented several times that we must not be on the right route because we didn’t recall the ranger taking us on anything this extreme.

Arches National Park Fiery Furnace Hike

The Arches Fiery Furnace is an amazing place. If you are in reasonable shape, I do recommend hiking this unique area one way or the other. Keep in mind, the permits are in demand, so make sure you research options on the National Park website far in advance of your game plan.

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