Arches National Park, Utah
Eye of the Whale Arch
The off-road trail is about 2.7 miles one way.
The hiking trail is about 1,000 feet to the arch.
5037 ft at the Balanced Rock turnoff
4950 ft at the arch
Allowed in vehicles only
There are entrance fees for Arches National Park
Bring your own water.
Spring, Summer, Fall
The park is open year round
Very little shade on this Trek
Off-road trail. You will need a high clearance vehicle. 4X4 recommended.
Yes. Right when you make the turn from Balanced Rock
Yes. At the entrance to the park.
Only in designated spots only and with proper permits
Bring snacks if needed
Bring a spare tire, jack, enough fuel to get there and back. Bring food and water.
Off-road Portion Begins: 38.70172, -109.56687
Picnic area and outhouse: 38.7026, -109.56898
High Clearance Vehicle Portion needed: 38.70147, -109.58026
Eye of the Whale Arch Trailhead: 38.71527, -109.60171
Eye of the Whale Arch: 38.71303, -109.6038
The driving directions get you to the picnic area. Then use the Trek guide below for the details on how to get out to Eye of the Whale Arch.
This Trek is separated into two sections: The off-road portion and the hiking portion.
Since ATVs are not allowed in Arches National Park you will need a high clearance vehicle to successfully make the trip out to the arch. Or if you wanted, you could simply just park your vehicle and hike the rest of the way.
The off-road portion was pretty easy. If you just go slow over all the small and medium sized rocks you will be fine. But since this is mostly a sand road, I would highly recommend you use a vehicle with 4×4 capability. If this road gets wet, it will be harder of course to traverse.
Also, make sure you have enough fuel and supplies before you head out. This includes a jack, spare tire and food and enough water.
The off-road part begins right at the turn off near Balanced Rock. Just make the turn on the dirt road and you will quickly come to the “secret” pit-style outhouse and also a picnic area. Keep travelling down the dirt road called Willow Springs Road, and you will pass a maintenance area for the park, the 4×4 boundary fence, and then you will come to a signpost.
Once you see the signpost (below) make a right to continue to the arch. The road you are on now is called the Salt Valley Road. You will travel a few more miles until you come to Eye of the Whale Arch trailhead.
It is here that you will need a vehicle with high clearance. If not, you will high center many times and get stuck. There aren’t any tricky 4×4 spots that require lots of off-roading skill but I can imagine it would be exciting if this road is wet or snowy. Overall, it was a piece of cake to traverse and I quite enjoyed being the only person out on this trail!
You have arrived at the Eye of the Whale trailhead when you see the parking area with a sign. Park here and begin your 1,000 ft hike to the arch.
The hiking portion is also pretty easy. You can see the backside of the arch from where you park. The trail is also dirt and sand and doesn’t gain much in elevation.
The trail leads right up into the arch. Once on the other side you can see why it’s called Eye of the Whale. It literally looks like a giant eyelid. It is really cool to see!
If you take a look to the east you will see Balanced Rock, Elephant Butte and even the La Sal Mountains. This really is a beautiful area!
You can continue down the dirt road to Tower Arch or you can turn back and find another adventure.
I really enjoyed this short drive and hike to Eye of the Whale Arch. When I come to Arches National Park I usually just hike Devils Garden and Delicate Arch but I would like to start adding these off-road adventures to my list as well.