THING TO DO

Hike to Mesa Arch

A broad stone arch with mountains and rock pinnacles in the background
Mesa Arch is a popular short hike at Island in the Sky

NPS Photo

You may have seen it on your friends' social media accounts, or maybe you have photos of it as your computer background image. It's a popular photo for a reason. Mesa Arch is a spectacular stone arch perched at the edge of a cliff with vast views of canyons, rock spires, and the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

It's also a relatively easy trail to hike at just a half mile (0.8 km) long. Along the way, you'll see signs pointing out some of the common Canyonlands plants and their traditional uses.

During busy seasons, the parking lot at Mesa Arch can fill. If you can't find a parking spot, come back at another time. We recommend visiting early or late in the day.

Read more about hiking at Canyonlands.

the sun's rays shine beneath a broad, silhouetted arch
The sun rises behind Mesa Arch and illuminates the underside of the arch each morning.

NPS/Kirsten Kearse

Photography

Sunrise is a popular time for photographers. The sun rises in the distance behind Mesa Arch and photographers catch the rays of the sun at the horizon or beneath the arch.

Because of this popular photo spot, Mesa Arch can be very crowded at dawn. Please be patient and give everyone a chance to get their photos.

The sun continues to illuminate the underside of the arch for several hours after sunrise, so if you don't catch the dawn, you can still get excellent shots after many other photographers have departed.

Throughout the day, the changing light and clouds over Mesa Arch makes it an excellent photography spot. Any time of day can provide a variety of light and textures on the famous arch. Consider other angles and perspectives to get a different view.

a group of people stand near an arch with distant mountains and canyons in the background
Mesa Arch sits on a cliff edge with spectacular views of canyons and the distant La Sal Mountains.

NPS/Chris Wonderly

a sign reading "keep off arch" with a broad arch in the background
Protect the park, keep yourself safe, and let other visitors photograph Mesa Arch by not walking or climbing on it.

NPS/Chris Wonderly

Protect your park. Protect yourself.

Protect fragile biological soil crust by hiking only on established trails, bare rock, or in sandy washes (where water flows when it rains).

To protect the arch, keep yourself safe, and allow everyone to enjoy and photograph this spectacular feature, do not walk or climb on Mesa Arch.

Mesa Arch is a great hike for kids; everyone should use caution as there are unfenced overlooks and steep drop-offs on this trail

Practice safe hiking. Avoid hiking in midday summer heat. Carry and drink water and eat salty snacks during your hike. Read more about staying safe.

Details
Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.
The Mesa Arch trailhead is located about 7 miles (11 km) south of Island in the Sky Visitor Center, or about 6 miles (10 km) north of Grand View Point.
Accessibility Information
  • The trail rough, uneven, and requires walking up and down a rocky hill and stone steps. It is not accessible to wheelchairs.
  • In winter, there may be snow or icy conditions; we recommend traction devices for hikers.
  • Service animals are allowed in national parks. For a definition of a service animal, please see the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Pets are not allowed on this trail.

Last updated: May 1, 2018