Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch
The Fiery Furnace is a highly sought-out hike through a maze of sandstone and slickrock in Arches National Park. Hikers must have a permit to hike this trail or join one of the Ranger-lead tours through this area. If you are able to secure a reservation, this trail is not one to miss.
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Route Description for Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch
The Fiery Furnace is an incredible, unique area in Arches National Park. The trail through this sandstone maze can be challenging to find and follow, so an adventurous spirit (and maybe a GPS) is necessary on this hike. This trail can also be done as part of a Ranger-led tour. It is recommended that you join one of these tours before venturing into this area on your own. If you are eager to get out there by yourself, you will need to obtain a permit from the Parks Office. Due to high demand, we recommend getting your permit far in advance. The Fiery Furnace is shaded despite the name, so this is a good hike for a hot day. Bring along a jacket as the temperature can be drastically different in the shade if you are heading out in cooler weather.
If you are able to obtain a permit or a ticket to a guided tour of the Fiery Furnace, this area is well worth it. The trail is confusing and maze-like, but that’s all part of the fun! Every twist and turn through this sandstone jungle will bring you to another amazing arch or hidden passageway.
Head into the maze and turn right to follow the loop clockwise from the trailhead. Without a guide, it is near impossible to make it through this trail without getting a little bit lost. The official trail is only 1.9 km long and has one spur trail 0.6 km in that leads up Skull Arch and another offshoot trail 1.3 km in that will take you north to Surprise Arch. Do your best to follow the NPS arrows that mark this route (if you can find them) and have fun picking your way through this labyrinth.
If you are able to complete the loop and make it back around to the trailhead—congratulations! If you have to turn around and follow your own path back out, don’t worry, this happens to about 50% of folks who try this trail without a guide. No matter how you do it, revel in the fact that this trail is an awesome adventure unlike any other in Arches National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you hike the Fiery Furnace without a guide?
Yes, you can hike the Fiery Furnace without a guide but you do need a permit. Permits for a “self-guided” hike are available through the National Park Service.
Insider Hints for Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch
- This trail is a maze! Try a guided tour before venturing in on your own.
- Bring a GPS or a map if you are heading in without a guide.
- Bring your water and layers in a backpack—you will need your hands to scramble up and squeeze your way through sections of this trail.
- Book your reservations at least a week in advance, this is a hugely popular trail in Arches National Park and spots are limited.
Getting to the Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch Trailhead
Take the turn-off to the Visitor Center off of highway 191 and follow Main Park Road for approximately 23.8 km. Take a right at the sign for “Fiery Furnace Viewpoint” and follow the road a short distance to the parking area. The Fiery Furnace Trail begins here.
Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch Elevation Graph
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