"Strenuous hikes: Fiery Furnace" Top 5 Page for this destination Arches National Park Things to Do Tip by goodfish

Arches National Park Things to Do: 387 reviews and 738 photos

As much as many of us like to go it alone, this is one hike that pretty much requires a guide: the furnace is a labyrinth of twists and turns, and there are no cairns. None. Zip zero. The park offers daily 3-hour guided hikes from March - Oct. that often fill up well in advance so reserve your spot via the web link below. It's not long - around 2-3 miles - but requires 3-point scrambling, ledge straddling, shimmies through tight cracks, jumping gaps, and fanny sliding so it's not exactly a stroll in the park either. You're also not allowed to throw in the towel partway through: once in it, you're in it for the long haul.

So assuming you can lift your legs 2 feet or so, do not have knee or back problems and aren't afraid of heights or confined spaces, you're good to go! And it's not really as scary as it can sound.

For all of the intimidating name, the Furnace has quite a lot of shade: its red glow around sunset gave it the "fiery". Your ranger will be stopping along the way for short talks about the geology, flora and fauna, and demonstrating best ways of scrambling the most challenging spots. He/she will offer to lend a hand here and there but learning how to do it yourself is all part of the experience. I got a few scrapes and scratches on this one but enjoyed the moments of levity when some of the folks performed, er, interesting acrobatics to get themselves from point A to point B. Hey, whatever works?

If there is one drawback, it's that there were few opportunities for taking photos: everything on you had to go in your backpack so the camera was tough to get to in a hurry. If you want to do some quick shooting, try to be at the front of the single-file line as the guide has to stop now and again to let slower hikers catch up, and that's when you squeeze off a few. You can also take some when stopped for lectures but those were often in places with lots of extreme contrast or poor lighting in general. I managed a couple when the line was at a crawl but no time for futzing.

To know before you sign on the line:

You must bring 2 full bottles of water
Wear hiking shoes or boots with a good tread - no open-toe sandals allowed
Wear a backpack - both hands must be free
Everything in your pockets must go in the pack to prevent loss while sliding
Hiking poles are not permitted
No children under age 5

You CAN do this one on your own with a permit (fee), a video safety session, and prior canyon navigation skills but they still strongly recommend going with someone experienced with the route: don't rely on GPS as some of them don't work in this maze, and cairns are strictly prohibited. Don't try sneaking in, either - you'll be escorted out and fined if they catch you. Some private companies also offer tours but they're expensive; park tours are a bargain at $10 an adult and less for children and seniors.

Address: Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Website: http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/programs.htm

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 26, 2011
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