Hiking the Fiery Furnace in Moab

Fiery Furnace in Utah


A natural labyrinth of narrow passages  — that’s how Arches National Park in Utah describes the Fiery Furnace. Other websites describe the 3-hour hike as an extremely rugged scrambling area.  And then there are the photos of the red sandstone walls and pillars that make up the trail. For a desert lover like me, it’s irresistible.


Then there is the whole limited access thing, which only makes it more tempting.  First of all, they only let 50 people into the area each day.  And getting a permit is difficult as they do sell out – so you can’t just wake up and say “hey, let’s hike the furnace today.” 


Secondly, there is a whole untouched aspect to the Fiery Furnace – mostly because there are no marked trails.  There is nothing like checking the “trail condition” and see the words “nonexistent.” In other words, getting lost is extremely possible – and happens often.


Discovering the Fiery Furnace

I planned to hike the furnace in June – naturally during a heat wave because that’s how I roll and a little scorching heat has never stopped me from doing something. And I had a 4 pm flight that day. Both these things meant that getting lost in the Fiery Furnace was not a good option for me.  

Plus, I read on forums that cell phone reception was a little sketchy in the area. 


Thankfully for people like me whose internal compass is not always reliable, there are guides who will take you through the furnace.  

I hired a guy from Moab Hiking (http://www.moabhiking.com) to take me around and he was fantastic.  He had me jumping over crevices, scrambling up rocks and stretching myself over large cracks so that I didn’t fall in. 


We started at 7 am when the park opened and by 10 am it was already 110 degrees so I was happy for early start. The hike is not long in terms of distance, and my guide said he customizes it based on the fitness levels of the person – so less scrambling if you aren’t used to it and more intense if you have been training for a marathon like was.  

However, regardless of your fitness level, the Fiery Furnace is a beautiful hike. 


Getting to the Fiery Furnace

One of the reasons it took me so long to make the trek to the Fiery Furnace is that it is in the middle of nowhere.  From Phoenix it’s an 8-hour drive.  From Las Vegas, it takes 7 hours. And from Salt Lake City it takes a little over 4 hours.  Yeah… it’s far no matter how you look at it. 


I decided to do the Grand Junction option. 


There’s a direct flights from Phoenix to Grand Junction.  And from Grand Junction, it’s takes just over 2 hours to get to the Arches National Park and the Fiery Furnace. It’s a pretty drive.  I did it at sunrise which made it spectacular.


Because I was arriving at Grand Junction at 9:30 pm and needed to get up at 4:30 am to meet my guide at 7 am, I rented a room through AirBnB.  My host was Pat, a woman in her 70s who is an inspiration to all of us with adventurous heart – and those who want to be.


She’s been a ranch hand and a trail rider.  She’s also an author and a poet.  Anyone who thinks getting old is boring needs to spend a few days with her and you will be cured of that misconception.  Especially when she tells you she just did a horseback riding trip in Australia and had a book published.  

I’m just saying, when I grow up, I’m going to be just like her.

Here’s her airBnB listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1361015
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