Canyonlands National Park: Mesa Arch


Since I had been to the Island In The Sky section of Canyonlands several years ago, I decided to just hit a couple of the highlights this time.  Mesa Arch is certainly one of those places.

Mesa Arch is probably the second-most photographed arch in the Moab area.  It’s best to see it as sunrise, at the moment when the sun breaks over the crest of the La Sal Mountains.  But if you don’t feel like leaving Moab an hour before sunrise, don’t worry — it’s still beautiful throughout the day.

The trailhead for Mesa Arch is about halfway through the drive down to Grand View Point.  Seeing Mesa Arch requires a 5-minute hike to the edge of the “Island”.   Be sure you take the path on the right (hike counter-clockwise around the loop), so that you see this great view of Mesa Arch as you approach.

Mesa Arch is destined to crumble someday.  The arch has split away from the rest of the cliff.  While it might look like it would fall with one good push, in reality it’s quite secure — enough so that I walked across the top of it.

Mesa Arch is commonly used as a frame for photos of the surrounding canyons.  In pictures taken at sunrise, the underbelly of the arch lights up with a bright orange glow.

Looking straight out from Mesa Arch, you’ll get a nice view of the White Rim, which surrounds the Island in the Sky district on three sides.

You can also check out my previous visit to Canyonlands, when I made stops at Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, and Grand View Point.

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