Mesa Arch: The Most Famous Feature in Canyonlands

Mesa Arch Canyonlands at sunrise

One of the most popular arches in Moab, Utah, is not located in Arches National Park.

Mesa Arch is the most visited feature in Canyonlands National Park. This arch is located in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands.

Here’s what to know about visiting Mesa Arch.

Getting to Mesa Arch

Map from Moab to Mesa Arch Canyonlands

Mesa Arch is located about 45 minutes away from Moab, Utah. It’s one of the first features you’ll encounter in Canyonlands, located only 10 minutes after passing the entrance sign and visitor center.

You’ll park in a small parking lot just for the arch, however, you cannot see the arch from the parking lot.

Hiking to Mesa Arch

The Mesa Arch hike is a 0.6-mile loop, meaning it only takes a 0.3-mile walk to get to the arch. You won’t see the arch until shortly before you arrive.

Map of Mesa Arch Canyonlands trail

The trail is not wheelchair accessible, and dogs are not allowed (except trained service animal dogs).

mesa arch canyonlands

About Mesa Arch

mesa arch canyonlands

Mesa Arch is interesting in that it sits on the ledge of the canyon rim. The arch is 27 feet long and not very tall.

mesa arch canyonlands

The result is that it provides a window frame to view the canyons below. You can see these views from anywhere along the canyon rim, including on both sides of Mesa Arch. But there’s something cool about that natural frame, especially when it gets lit up at sunrise.

mesa arch canyonlands

WARNING: WATCH YOUR KIDS! We visited the arch when our kids were younger. They ran in front of us on the trail and arrived at the arch before we did. The arch is a little deceiving in that it’s not immediately clear that there is a 1,200-foot sheer cliff on the other side of it. Once we arrived, we were horrified to see that our kids were sitting on the ledge looking down right into the canyon.

DO NOT Walk on Mesa Arch

mesa arch canyonlands

Walking on the arch is not allowed. Because it is connected to the canyon wall, it is physically possible, and quite easy, to walk on the arch. There are signs saying not to walk on the arch.

mesa arch canyonlands
mesa arch canyonlands

The last time I was there, a married couple both walked across the arch. I actually told them multiple times to get down, but they wouldn’t listen.

What to See at Mesa Arch

While at the arch, take the time to notice a few things.

Washer Woman & Monster Tower

Washer Woman is a formation seen through the arch. It’s an arch that bears a resemblance to a woman washing dishes. Monster Tower is to the right.

Washer woman and monster tower at Mesa arch canyonlands
Washer Woman is in the foreground, on the left.

La Sal Mountains

La Sal mountains through Mesa Arch canyonlands

In the distance, on the horizon, are the La Sal Mountains. These mountains tower over Moab and serve as a backdrop to the wonderful red rock features found in Canyonlands and Arches National Park.

White Rim & Colorado River

mesa arch canyonlands

At the bottom of the canyon, you can see the White Rim, the plateau below the canyon rim. Beyond the White Rim is the Colorado River. The Colorado River meets up with the Green River in Canyonlands and moves downstream through the Grand Canyon.

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Sunrise at Mesa Arch

mesa arch canyonlands

Mesa Arch is famous for sunrises because the sun splashes on the arch and the canyon wall.

The arch seemingly glows, making the picture-frame effect all the more pronounced.

mesa arch canyonlands

However, if you’re a photographer, you better plan on getting there very early to stake out your spot.

I visited in the dead season and was surprised to find a decent gathering of photographers. I can only imagine how packed it is in the summer.

mesa arch canyonlands

Is Mesa Arch Worth Visiting?

Mesa Arch is absolutely worth visiting and is especially beautiful at sunrise.

However, I’m kind of surprised at the attention it gets relative to other sites in the park. When I think of Canyonlands, Mesa Arch is not the first thing that comes to my mind. There are other viewpoints I prefer more, and other hikes that I like better.

Things To Do Nearby

For many people, Mesa Arch is the only thing they see in Canyonlands National Park. But there are some fantastic sites located nearby:

What Else Do You Need to Know?

There is so much to do in Moab, Arches, and Canyonlands. How do you know what you should see and do? You need help! Don’t miss out on the best things.

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites and still avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!



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