'Fiery Furnace' - The best hike in Arches National Park!
I love birthdays. I look at them as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate life; something not to be missed. We have an entire year to reflect on who we want to be, but birthday to me, is a day to celebrate who we are. And I am always looking for something special to do for my birthday and of those close to me. I love National Parks, outdoors, hiking and fun challenges. So, planning a trip to Arches National Park to hike outdoors in a spectacular landscape seemed like a great way to celebrate my birthday. During my research for this trip, I came across this particular hike which needed a permit and that intrigued me. And then I found out that this hike is really a maze where you have to figure your way out and there is a real possibility of getting lost! Okay, sign me up baby!! What better way to spend a birthday - than getting lost and finding yourself ;)
Needless to say, I was super excited about this hike. While there is no actual trail, there are 20 tiny markers in this huge area that you can carefully follow to get out of the maze. If you follow this route guided by markers, it is about 2 miles and takes around 2 hours. But this is only an option and people can explore the area as they see fit and get lost in the process :). I have seen some pictures of people scrambling up huge rocks, squeezing through narrow passages and having to do some tricky maneuvers to get past the boulders. I also read accounts of people spending hours in here, trying to find their way out and finally tagging along a guided tour to eventually get out. As much as I love adventure and challenge, the planner in me (or is it the "Type A" personality) needs all the back-up necessary to make it out of the maze in a decent amount of time. So, I downloaded an "All Trails" map of this hike in advance, just as an option in case we do get lost. After browsing through several pictures and reading through numerous reviews, the only tip I got was this - Take the path to the right at the Parking Lot.
So, to everyone reading this, take the path to the right from the parking lot and begin your own adventure. I have taken pictures of all the 20 arrows but I would be spoiling the fun if I share them. Most of the fun in this hike for me was trying to locate these arrows. I remember how excited I got whenever we found an arrow and I don't want to rob you of that excitement. But I do want to share a picture of a camouflaged arrow and see if you can spot it. If you can, you are almost ready for this hike :) If you can't, don't worry - though all arrows are of the same size, most of them are set on a pole, clearly visible to everyone who is on track.
|Kudos to my husband for spotting this and more arrows like this...
And sometimes just going under the rock to see if there is a trail (which there is none by the way):
Sometimes the trail surprises you with sophisticated stairs like this (though you can't see them in the pic):
This is when my husband said, "Let's just climb on the rocks, we might see something". We did and right around the corner, there it was - a path forward. Just like in life. Sometimes, it is hard to see a path forward from our vantage point. We just have to trust and take a few steps forward and right around the corner, we shall see a path.
|A happy "me" towards the end of the hike
While this is not your normal hike and is challenging, we never felt it was too tough or dangerous. If you are reasonably fit, armed with an "All Trails" map and shoes with a good grip, you can make it. Be ready for some rock climbing and keep an eye out for those arrows. So, if you are anything like me, put this on your itinerary for a fun-filled, challenging and a memorable day. You will be glad you did it!
For the rest of our itinerary of Arches National Park, click here.