Mesa Arch
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Visit this mesa at sunrise for the best scencic views.
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  • Charles M
    Virginia101 contributions
    Stunning views through Mesa Arch's window on the vastness of Canyonlands.
    Mesa Arch is a must see in Canyonlands National Park. While popular, therefore crowded, going at less busy times will be rewarded with life affirming views. More wildlife also comes out when fewer visitors are around. Gaze across the miles at the vastness of the park through the arch's window. (Tip: Spend some time at the Island in the Sky Visitor Center for informative insights into the park and safety tips from the Park Rangers.)
    Visited June 2022
    Written March 28, 2023
  • Claudia10229
    Dallas, Texas430 contributions
    Nice sized arch, fairly easy access and short hike.
    Limited parking but people do leave often since the hike is short and return to their cars quickly. Approximately .6miles round trip and it is a loop trail. The arch is a good size and easy to access. Great photos to be taken from different angles. Stop here if you don't have time to go to Arches National Park and you can view natures creations.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 6, 2023
  • Richard N
    Stroud, United Kingdom374 contributions
    THE Destination in Canyonlands
    It's a half mile gentle walk to the Arch from the car park. There's a fair turnover of people there so if it's full as it was when we arrived, you'll very soon find someone leaving and can nab their space. The Arch is a phenomenon in a stunning location and of course is a photo heaven. When we were there an orderly line formed and people waited patiently in turn for their opportunity with their queue neighbours taking the album photo shot. It was certainly quite busy when we were there so not really possible to get the ultimate photo through the arch with no people in the view, but that's OK. If you have a phone/camera with a magic eraser function you can eliminate them!
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 16, 2023
  • Jet10596190533
    2 contributions
    Just stunning!
    The sunrise at Mesa Arch is truly spectacular. As indicated in other reviews, you need to arrive well in advance of sunrise because many photographers set up tripods to capture the perfect shot. That means getting to the park before the entrance station is open (so you have to find your way to the arch without a map!), and hiking about a quarter of a mile on a fairly easy trail in the dark. (Headlamps recommended!) Well worth it even if you’re generally not a morning person or hiker!
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written October 24, 2023
  • JW041
    Evansville, Indiana352 contributions
    Stunning but crowded.
    A must see. Not a long hike and I think just about any skill level can do it. Not wheelchair assessable though. Lots of people. Some will take turns letting others get some photos and some are plain jerks hogging up the space and not letting others get photos. Despite the crowdedness and photo hogs, it’s really special to see.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written November 5, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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BruinDan
Fullerton, CA2,883 contributions
Oct 2020
Of all the vistas, sights and formations in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, none is more famous than Mesa Arch. For many visitors, the arch is their first stop. Is it worth it? Absolutely -- it’s popular for good reason.

From the Island in the Sky Visitor Center, drive south for 6.3 mi/10.1 km and turn left into the parking area for Mesa Arch (if you reach the intersection with Upheaval Dome Road, you’ve gone too far). The trail to the arch is 0.5 mi/0.8 km with an elevation gain of 75 ft/23 m, and it is appropriate for most ages and fitness levels. There are vault toilets at the parking lot.

The trailhead begins at the parking lot. After a brief ascent, the trail comes to a fork (or “Y”); you can take either path and it will take you to the arch. As you approach the edge of the mesa, you’ll get your first glimpse of the arch. When you get to the end of the trail, you’ll find yourself at the top of a 500 ft/152 m cliff staring in awe at a 50 ft/15.2 m long arch. As you step closer and look through the arch, you’ll see how it perfectly frames the view of the canyon below.

NOTE that Mesa Arch is an extremely popular spot for photographers at sunrise trying to catch the sun rising through the arch and lighting up the inside of the arch with a warm glow. Even if you aren’t the sunrise type, you should still see Mesa Arch in the early morning. We arrived at the end of the trail a little before 9:00 am and were able to see the inside of the arch glowing with the morning light. It’s a remarkable sight and well worth the early wake-up alarm.
Written November 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

NatParkLove
Peoria, IL1,831 contributions
Jul 2020
If you're OK not getting the "sunrise shot" of the sun through the arch, show up just after. There can be 50+ photographers waiting for sunrise at the arch. In July, we showed up to the trail around 7 AM and the last of the photographers was leaving. We had Mesa Arch all to ourselves!

This is a short loop hike and it will be hot mid-day so that's another reason to go early. Before you know it, you are at the arch. Make sure to go up to the opening to see the breathtaking view of the park beyond. This was honestly my favorite view of the entire trip.

One word of advice: the vault toilets were closed for construction and the port-o-potties in the lot were absolutely disgusting. You can tell they hadn't been cleaned out in days. Yuck! So I would plan to use the restroom elsewhere in this park.
Written July 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LSUTraveller
Watson, LA1,856 contributions
Jan 2021
One of the finest sunrise moments in a National Park, second only to sunrise at Haleakala N.P. Be sure you adjust for the hour drive in off Hwy 191 and get to Mesa about 30 min before sunrise to get a good spot. The sun coming up on the cliff face is incredible, and don't miss the colors on the illuminated rocks on the cliff face. It's an easy hike but parking may get limited.
Written January 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kumi M
Palo Alto, CA1,465 contributions
Sep 2020
This one will require a small hike to get to. The path is easy enough and you can take your time. One side goes in and an adjacent route will bring you back.

The parking lot isn’t very big though - not when it comes to popular hours it seems. And we tried to visit for the sunrise, like almost everyone else in the park that pre-dawn morning. I think we took one of the last available spots. We rushed the hike a bit and when we got to the open rocky area we saw plenty of others roaming around or strategically placed in spots in front of the arch with their camera equipment all set up, anticipating the sunrise.

If you thought you were going to get a pristine shot of the sunrise and the arch, think again. Chances are you’ll have someone else’s equipment and/or backside featured in your photo!
Show up earlier than you think to get that perfect spot (and hope someone else won’t set up their tripod right in front if you!

On either side of the arch are amazing views too. Don’t miss those. Scramble/walk up the rocks and look down and into the distance. If you’re afraid of heights, maybe skip the looking down part.

The morning we arrived, the sunrise wasn’t as exhilarating as the images we’d seen prior to our Canyonlands visit. The weather wasn’t cool and a slight haze in the air just kept the sky a bit subdued The sun did come up and added some nice color to everything it touched though!
Written October 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

AlpinerHut
Chantilly, VA1,226 contributions
Oct 2021
My memory of this magical arch is marred by something else I saw: a man walking on top of it, risking a 1,300-foot fall if he tripped, slipped or got blown canyonward by a gust of wind.

Part of what makes Mesa Arch so special is its location: on the edge of a cliff. That, of course, is also what makes it dangerous: crowds of people moving in close quarters around and under the arch, often focused more on taking a picture than on watching where they step.

The other thing that makes this arch special: the way the rising sun makes the underside of the arch glow bright orange.

I'd rate this the second-best stop in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, the best being Grand View Point Overlook (see my review, "Top attraction in Island in the Sky district").

TIPS:

* Sunrise here is reportedly special, but even arriving at midmorning you'll still get that glowing underside of the arch on a sunny day.

* The trickiest part of the half-mile (roundtrip) hike to get to the arch is not losing the trail, which seems to come and go. Follow the crowds or, failing that, look for the piles of rocks which serve as trail markers.
Written November 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

FjordFan
Milwaukee156 contributions
Oct 2020 • Family
We came here for a late October sunrise, it had snowed the night before and was bitter cold in the morning (wind chills near zero). Yes we were very cold, but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. The views were stunning, and seeing Canyonlands covered in snow added to the experience. You do have to maneuver around all the professional photographers who get there early to snag the best locations for photos, but you can still get some magical shots of your own.
Written November 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelingSoccerLoon
Saint Paul, MN3,421 contributions
Aug 2020
Pretty cool to see. Not really a hike but a short walk. Makes for a good photo op. Easy to get to the Arch from the trailhead but this also means it is heavily visited. Views at sunrise are told to be spectacular
Written March 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ashar G
Houston, TX325 contributions
Jul 2022
Easy Hike. Different view at Sunrise and PM. Greater crowds before sunrise. It rained on the day we went so didnt get the money shot but people left right after sunrise so then it was empry with light rain and clouds.
Written July 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

wirttravelers
West Virginia547 contributions
Oct 2022
It is impossible to take a bad photo of this arch. There's a short hike to the arch with some ups and downs. Be sure to follow the trail closely because it is easy to lose in a few places. I saw some people get side tracked and end up on a ledge that didn't lead to the arch.

For the best photos, I recommend the morning. The lighting is the best then. Be aware that you will NOT have this arch to yourself. This is a very popular stop and you will have to wait a long time to get a distance shot without people in it.
Written November 4, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jrdc2017
Washington DC, DC28 contributions
Sep 2020
The arch itself is impressive as is the view through it to the canyon and the steep drop on the other side. The hike isn't strenuous, but go early if you can since it will get crowded. You can find lots of places nearby to get views of the arch and get nice shots, a little patience to wait for different groups to clear out will give a photo without anyone in front
Written October 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Mesa Arch - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)