finsPerhaps one of the most strenuous hikes in Arches National Park is the one through the Fiery Furnace, so called from the vivid color of the stones in late day.  The Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins, created over the years by erosion.  The route requires scrambling and squeezing through tight spaces.  This relatively small area is one of the most incredible and spectacular places in the park.This hike can only be taken with a guide, or a special permit, as it is very easy to lose your orientation among the rocks and get lost, or to fall and get injured, or both.

IMG_0707 We chose to take the morning hike, to avoid the heat of the day.   Over two dozen people  gathered early in the morning at the entrance to the area.

We spent the next three hours, walking and climbing on irregular and broken sandstone, along narrow ledges above drop-offs and in loose, sometimes wet, sand. There are cracks which must be stepped over and narrow places in the rock that you must squeeze into and pull yourself up and through. In some of these places, you must hold yourself off the ground by pushing against the sandstone walls with your hands and feet.

There is no trail, and due to the maze-like nature of the terrain, one is committed to completing the hike once they have entered the Fiery Furnace.  It was one of the most enjoyable hikes we’ve made.

As always, pictures speak much more eloquently than words.  Have a look at our hike:slideshow start