Place

Balanced Rock Viewpoint and Trail

Sandstone boulder atop a its pedestal glows bright orange at sunset, snowy peaks in background
Balanced Rock at sunset

NPS/Chris Wonderly

Quick Facts

Parking - Auto, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Trailhead, Wheelchair Accessible

Balanced Rock can be seen from the park road 9.2 miles (14.8 km) from Arches Visitor Center. View the feature from a viewpoint or hike the short trail around it. Climbing on Balanced Rock is prohibited.

  • Roundtrip Distance: 0.3 mi (0.4 km) 
  • Time: 15-30 min 
  • Elevation Change: 35 ft (11 m) 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Hike Description: This is a loop trail at the base of a picturesque rock formation. Part of the trail is paved. 
  • Accessibility: The beginning of the trail is flat and paved. It passes alongside Balanced Rock to a viewpoint of The Windows and the La Sal Mountains in the distance. The trail continuing around Balanced Rock has steps, slopes, and rocky, uneven surfaces. An accessible picnic area and toilet are located up a gravel road across from Balanced Rock. 
  • Dogs are not allowed on this trail. Service animals are allowed in national parks. What is a service animal? 

One of the most iconic features in the park, Balanced Rock stands a staggering 128 feet (39 m) tall. While this formation may appear to be an epic balancing act, it’s actually not balanced at all. The top boulder of Entrada Sandstone sits attached to its eroding pedestal of Dewey Bridge mudstone. The exposure of these two rock strata layers are ideal for the formation of arches and balanced rocks.

Balanced Rock defies gravity but this won’t always be the case. Eventually, the 3,600 ton (over 4 million kg) boulder will come tumbling down as the erosional process continues to shape the landscape. In the winter of 1975-76, Balanced Rock’s smaller sibling “Chip-Off-the-Ol'-Block” collapsed (view Then and Now photos), proving that there is no better time than the present to see this awe-inspiring giant.

At sunset, Balanced Rock becomes saturated in a deep red-orange making it a great place to end a fun-filled day in the park. This is also an ideal place for stargazing and night photography. Its location is just far enough from the city lights of Moab, Utah and provides whimsical rocky spires in the foreground.

A picnic area is located across from Balanced Rock to the west down a gravel road. The picnic area offers multiple picnic tables, covered canopy, vault toilet, and spectacular views of Salt Valley. We encourage you to leave no trace by using trash/recycling bins in the picnic area. Feeding wildlife can be harmful and is prohibited in the park.
 

A stack of 5 orange colored rocks in various sizes. The stack creates a half a foot pile and sits on exposed hard rock.
A cairn marks the trail.

NPS/Christian Wright

Find Your Way

Cairns are the rock piles that you see along many of the trails in the park. They are carefully placed by rangers to mark the route. Building your own cairns may be tempting but consider the how that may impact other hikers. "Cairn clutter" and "sculpture gardens" can be confusing to others on the trail. They can also damage park resources and impair the natural beauty of the park.

 

Arches National Park

Last updated: June 13, 2022