While Arches National Park is (as the name suggests) known for its impressive arches, there are some equally spectacular ones outside the national park. Corona Arch, formerly known as Little Rainbow Bridge (and the nearby Bowtie Arch) rivals most of the arches in the national park. The approach to the Corona Arch hiking trail is very scenic, with Highway 279 (Potash Road) following the Colorado River along towering cliffs and past the Utah Highway 279 Rock Art Site.
From the large parking lot, the trail heads up the rocky talus slope towards a high cliff. There are a few people around – the Corona Arch gets 40,000-50,000 visitors a years – but it’s a lot less busy than the nearby Arches National Park.
The trail turns to the left to follow the base of the cliffs, crossing a railway line after about 0.1mi / 0.2km. The rail line was built for trains to haul potash from a potash mine (North America’s largest potash deposit is nearby).
The trail then continues along the base of a cliff, following an old road. There are some views over the Colorado River to the west.
There’s a short climb as the trail swings to the right along the cliff to enter Bootlegger Canyon, where the landscape opens up.
The trail now crosses sand and slickrock pavement, with the cliffs forming Bootlegger Canyon visible in every direction.
After the trail passes the junction with a track to Pinto Arch, it heads north-east along a sloping section of slickrock, beneath a low cliff. Corona Arch (and Bowtie Arch) suddenly come into view, beneath tall cliffs.
The best part of the hike comes next (unless you have a fear of heights), requiring a scramble up a weathered sandstone slab with the help of a cable and a five-step metal ladder.
The trail is now less obvious as it follows a wide slickrock bench towards Corona Arch. Towering above the trail is Bowtie Arch, a pothole arch (pothole arches are formed when a pothole, usually filled with water, erodes into a cave below it).
The trail soon reaches Corona Arch, is 140 feet (42.6m) wide by 105 feet (32m) high – making it significantly bigger than Delicate Arch, the largest arch in Arches National Park (which is 46 feet / 14m high and 32 feet / 10m wide).
You can walk up to the base of Corona Arch and across to the opposite side: the view of the enormous Navajo sandstone arch is impressive from every perspective.
The arch is so large that, although this is now banned, airplanes have flown through the opening.Corona Arch was also the site of the world’s largest rope swing (the video has received over 25M views since 2012!).
It’s back the same way from here; if you have time you can also add a side-trip to Pinto Arch (another pothole arch). I did the walk in about 45min as I had limited time; allow at least an hour so you have time to explore the area around the arch. As the trail is fairly exposed, in summer this hike is best done very early or late in the day.
Getting to Corona Arch
From Moab, take the US 191 north for 4 miles (6.4km), then turn left onto Highway 79 to the south and follow this for 10 miles (16.2km). There is a large, signposted parking area for the trailhead on the north (right) side of the highway. Moab is 235mi / 380km (about a four hour drive) from Salt Lake City in Utah, which has the closest major airport.
- BLM – Corona Arch