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Corona Arch

Trail rating: **

Scenic value: ***

Arches National Park contains the greatest concentration of arches in the world. However, there are some great arches found outside the park and one relatively unknown arch southwest of Moab.

Corona is a sizable arch that reportedly some small airplanes have flown through. Its nickname is "Little Rainbow Bridge" because its shape is reminiscent of Rainbow Bridge along Lake Powell.

This is a great family hike because it's not too crowded, and it's on Bureau of Land Management property, so you don't have to pay park fees.

Distance: 1.2 miles, one-way

Elevation gain: 440 feet

Time required: two to four hours

Difficulty: Easy, except for climbing one eight-foot ladder and climbing one 40-foot section of steep slickrock.

Directions to the trailhead: Turn right onto "The Potash Road," a scenic highway numbered U-279, just before crossing the Colorado River heading into Moab on Highway 191. Travel west 9.7 miles along the river to a dirt parking lot on the right side that has a Corona Arch sign along the roadway.

Trail description: The path climbs 100 feet in the first 300 yards and then levels out on a plateau. Here, the trail crosses an active railroad track without any signal lights.

The trail generally remains a gradual climb with rock piles to mark small slickrock portions. Portions of the trail follow and old washed-out jeep road. After a mile, it crosses a slickrock section protected by steel cables, though there is only a 15-foot dropoff below. Next, there's the 40-foot section of steep slickrock, but it has footholds cut into the rock and some steel cables to hold onto.

One hundred feet later is the small ladder that puts you on level with Corona Arch.

Cautions: This is definitely an early spring or fall hike because dark rocks in the area create extra heat. In summer, this hike is best done on a cool day or the first thing in the morning. Take plenty of water.

Small children will need assistance to climb the ladder and steep slickrock section. They should also be discouraged from the cliff areas south of the arch and also from walking the active train tracks near the hike's first 400 yards.

Highlights: Seeing the railroad line cut into a narrow gorge is great, and kids seem to enjoy the ladder climb and the slickrock sections.

One trail section provides good views of the Colorado River below.

On top you can see Corona Arch but also Bowtie Arch and another unnamed arch as well. There are plenty of rocks to the north to rest or picnic on.

There are also some ancient Indian writings to enjoy along the Potash Road.

Tidbits: The railroad gorge was cut in 1964 and includes a mile-long tunnel, used as a shortcut to U-273 toward Moab.

No one is sure where the Corona name came from, but the arch's Rainbow nickname does create confusion on most maps.

Facilities/camping/water: There's a BLM sign-in register at the trail's start, but no restrooms or water is available. Moab is the closest source. Primitive camping spots are available along the Colorado River.

For more information: Contact the Moab BLM office, 1-435-259-6111.