Hike to the colossal Broken Bow Arch

Tom’s Experience hiking to Broken Bow Arch: 

Broken Bow Arch was much larger than I expected it to be and really one of the coolest arches I’ve ever seen. The trail to get to the arch is sometimes a little difficult to follow, on more than one occasion we were stumped by the boulders, mud and debris we had to navigate around.

Sunset at Broken Bow ArchThe hike wasn’t too steep or difficult, other than the trail finding, so I was happy to have had my gps with me. The trail starts out going down a very sandy trail to the canyon floor. The trail passes right next to an interesting rock formation called Mortarboard Rock.

Mortarboard Rock on the way to Broken Bow ArchOnce you get onto the canyon floor, follow the canyon until it intersects with another canyon. Continue going straight in the same canyon you entered from. Look for the trail to take off to the left, after the intersection, up and over a hill. We missed it and continued through the canyon which still got us to the same place, but that may have been why we struggled so much with mud and boulders.

Hiking Through Willow GulchOur footprints were not the only ones to have missed the trail and follow the canyon, so I think it is a fairly common mistake. Eventually, the trail and the canyon come together farther down the canyon and you follow the canyon the rest of the way to the arch.

Willow Gulch

Eventually, the canyon leads right to the arch. We had fun exploring the valley the arch was in to get different vantage points for the arch. The arch has a span of nearly 100 feet, and was named because of a broken native american bow that was found below the arch.

Hiking to Broken Bow ArchMake sure you pay attention to the trail as you leave the Broken Bow Arch. We were able to find the actual trail on the way back and it was a lot faster and easier than trying to navigate through the canyon, like we did on the way down. We also heard two rattlesnakes as we were hiking back from the arch, so be careful. Make sure you look for the trail exit from the lower canyon so you don’t miss it. We were able to see Mortarboard rock from inside the canyon so that helped guide us in the right direction. It is about 5 miles from the trailhead to the arch and back. Dogs are allowed on this trail but must remained leashed.

Tom’s Rating:

Trail Info: From Escalante, Utah, drive east on highway 12 until you reach the signed Hole in the Rock road. Stay on the main Hole in the Rock road for 41.6 miles until you see a road heading to the left that is BLM road 276. Follow that road until it dead ends at the trailhead with a small parking lot. There is a trail register and a sign for Willow Gulch Trailhead so you know you are in the right place. The Hole in the Rock road is dirt but it shouldn’t be too difficult to make it to the trailhead if the road is dry. Make sure you have plenty of water and gas because there are no facilities off of Hole in the Rock road.

GPS: Trailhead = 37.324812,-111.023019.

Broken Bow Arch = 37.328576,-110.999914

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Climb the terrifying Ancient Art tower

Tom’s Experience Climbing Ancient Art: 

Climbing the  Fisher Towers Stolen Chimney Route of Ancient Art is extremely exposed and very scary to climb. Ancient Art is very popular, many call it a classic, and may require long wait times in order to climb to the top. This rock formation has been on the cover of numerous posters, magazine covers and guidebooks, as well as the Citi bank commercial. The Stolen Chimney Route is not a climb you will easily forget.

Belaying on Ancient Art

My family and I (including our dog, who had to wait at the bottom of the climb with my pregnant wife) left the Fisher Towers trailhead at 7:00 am and were the third group to start climbing. However, there were maybe a dozen groups after us, so it was important that we started early.

Climbing Ancient Art

It is 4 pitches, but the last pitch is the highlight of the climb, and is very exposed; it is also the pitch that receives the most publicity. The route is rated 5.10 but can be made easier if using bolts to create ladders. Most of the route was fairly well protected for an experienced climber.

4th pitch of Ancient Art

My dad is an excellent rock climber and has been climbing for many years. He led our family on this climb. The first pitch is up an easy rock pile to the base of a chimney. The second pitch is through a dirty chimney to a nice natural platform.

Ancient Art Height

The third pitch is up an exposed face to the bridge. The fourth pitch is walking about 20 steps across an extremely narrow and exposed ledge to a diving board, then up to the tip of the narrow summit. As you look over the edge from the bridge, there are hundred foot drop offs on either side; which make for a very airy ascent.

Summit of Ancient Art

Depending on the group size and how many groups ahead of you, climbing Ancient Art could take anywhere from a few hours to all day. It took our group of four most of the day. We climbed it in the spring, so the temperature was fairly nice, and waiting for others wasn’t much of a problem.We ended up rappelling to the bottom, but people looking for an even bigger thrill can base jump to the bottom.

Tom’s Rating:

Ancient Art Trail Info: Start at the Fisher Towers trailhead and hike in about .5 miles. The trail brings you around to Ancient Art, where there is another well worn trail to the left of the main trail that leads to the base of the climb. Dogs are allowed in the Fisher Towers Area.

GPS Coordinates:   Trailhead – 38.724844,-109.308826                              Ancient Art Rock Climb – 38.721663,-109.304223

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