Exploring the Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park

On my annual birthday trip of 2010 I got rained out of the Behind the Rocks area near Moab. So the next day I tried my luck in the Fiery Furnace and luck was my friend that day. It was beautiful.

I’ve been able to visit the Fiery Furnace maybe 6-7 times in the past few years. It has become one of my favorite desert hikes – alongside places like Moon House Ruin in Cedar Mesa and Spooky Gulch near the Escalante River.

There are some really interesting side canyons as you approach Skull Arch. They are short and you have to do some stemming or scrambling to get into them but they are typically great places to sit and think. [Apologies for the poor sound in these videos. The iPhone wasn’t quite up to the task.]

As with most side canyons in FF, you can explore quite a ways up the canyon above Kissing Turtle Arch. You have to work pretty hard to avoid the cryptobiotic soil by only walking in washes or sandstone. But with some effort you’ll see amazing little alcoves and get up on some fins for outstanding views.

While exploring the canyon above Kissing Turtle Arch (I should mention there are 3 canyons there and 2 seem to dead-end), I found a way out the top of FF. The final exit takes you through a 100 ft crack/cave and leaves you maybe a mile southeast of the Sand Dune Arch area and probably just a quarter mile east of the road to Devil’s Garden.

If I’m lucky I’ll be taking my two sons through the Fiery Furnace in January. Brennen (17) has been through once. Ethan (11) has not. Should be huge fun. I’ll let you know if we find anything interesting.

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Gearing Up to Camp “Behind the Rocks” Near Moab

I’ve finally made it to Moab for my annual solo trip – my favorite birthday gift from my wife each year.

The Monarch Butterfly Backpacking Chair

I left home around noon but with a side trip to REI (to pick up a sweet backpacking chair) and traffic I didn’t get here until around 6. Rough. I checked in to my $35/night camping cabin / tough shed and promptly inflated my sleeping pad after trying out the fabric-wrapped collection of springs masquerading as a mattress in there. I locked my room, with provided padlock, and am now enjoying some trout and mashed potatoes at Smitty’s.

Enjoying dinner and some reading at Smitty's Golden Steak Restaurant

I’m excited for tomorrow. I’ll be backpacking into the Behind the Rocks region on the southwest mesa above Moab. I’ll camp there Friday night. Hopefully I won’t get soaked. Maybe I’ll let you know how it goes.

Behind the Rocks Topo Map - near Moab

If I’m not back in Pleasant Grove by Saturday night, someone tell Gisele there’s a topo map on the fridge with my planned route. My emaciated (but certainly smiling) frame should be huddled somewhere near one of the hand drawn lines running between two of a few dozen sandstone fins.

Update:

Here’s my post about backpacking into the Behind the Rocks area via the Hidden Valley Trail.