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Jug Handle Arch - Zion National Park

Challenging to reach view points or challenging to reach summit hike your choice.
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 2.7 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview:  I love the Arches of Zion National Park. Breathtaking in their elegance, these Arches often go unnoticed simply due to the shear... more »

Tips:  Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Parking

Jug Handle Arch is located in East Zion. Proceed North on Highway 9 toward Mt. Carmel Junction. Parking is 1.9 miles East of the small tunnel. This parking lot is used for Keyhole Slot Canyon and is usually crowded with cars. A small pullout further East (holds about 4 cars) makes for the ideal parking spot.

At this small parking spot, look... More

2. Trailhead and Slickrock Drainage

From this small parking spot, hike North on Highway 9 toward Mt. Carmel Junction about 100 yards. Drop down into the gully on the North side of the road. Use caution, blind curve for vehicles.

Once in the gully, continue North along the slickrock bed. Use the ledge system and weakness on the Right hand side to make the travel easier. At the... More

3. Hoodoo View Point

Jug Handle Arch hike can be divided into two different types; view and summit.
The best and easiest view point is directly up the wash to the Hoodoo's at the saddle. This 1/4 mile hike is difficult, but the view into Keyhole Canyon and the view of Jug Handle Arch is worth it.

4. Keyhole Slot Canyon

If you decide to proceed further, drop down the steep, sandy, slick trail into Keyhole Canyon. Keyhole Canyon is one of Zions most popular (and populated) canyon routes. On my visit I could hear a group already in the canyon. A group of eight was getting ready to enter. Followed by a team of 2, then another group of eight! Slot canyons require... More

5. Exit Keyhole Slot Canyon

Continue up stream about 75 feet (just before the canyon narrows again) on your left is a steep ramp that exits the slot canyon. This is the direction of travel. Work your way up the ramp, using the vegetation as handholds. At the 3/4 mark are a pair of small Hoodoo's. Step on top of these small Hoodoo's for another view down into Keyhole... More

6. Ridge Line

Continue North toward the Arch, following just below the ridge line and moving toward the large slickrock slab.

7. The Foundry & Decision Point

Dropping down from the ridge, you cross a large (red) slickrock slab littered with black lava rock. The black lava rock contain amazing shapes and remind one of being on the foundry floor of a ship yard. Impossible shapes and thin square sheets make for an interesting study in geology.

Decision point. View or Summit? For the best View continue... More

8. Jug Handle View Point

The view point located just below the Arch, is reached by following the distinctive white slickrock ridge. Using the ledge systems, work your way up the massive slickrock as high as you are comfortable. This 3rd class scramble allows you to reach an ideal viewpoint just below the arch.

9. Bushwacking and Slickrock dryfall toward Summit

If your decision is to stand atop the Arch, then continue North, don't down hike into the drainage floor, allow the floor to rise to met you as you progress around the West side of the white slickrock. Soon bushwacking through the pine trees and underbrush become normal. Staying close where the rock meets the sand allows for easier travel. ... More

10. Sandstone Slab to Chute

Again using the ledge systems and weakness in the slab, negotiate higher up this slab. The chute to the top should be very evident now and a faint trail begins to take shape as the firm footing of the sandstone slab gives way to loose sand and rock.

11. Chute

As you reach the chute, you'll notice two distinct pathways up. On your left is a dead tree that sits directly in the chute. This is the direction of travel I decided to take, using the tree as solid handholds and footing. Also this side of the chute has some slickrock areas that allow for more solid scrambling. Use caution as some sections of... More

12. Plateau and Jug Handle Arch

Once the plateau is achieved, head East. The farthest point allows for a fantastic view into East Zion. Looking back North the rocky outcrop of Jug Handle Arch can be seen. It is difficult to recognize from this angle because the eye of the arch does not allow for light to be seen through it.

Walk North along the rim (use caution as the edge... More