Arches’ Fiery Furnace is a stunning and remote maze of sandstone canyons. The only way to access this part of the park is via a ranger-led hike or with a self-guided exploration permit.
Ranger-led tours are usually offered daily from March through October. Arches National Park staff recommend that first time Fiery Furnace hikers join the 2.5-hour ranger-led hike as this section of the park is extremely easy to get lost in. Each hike includes up to 14 people. Keep your eye out for the summer schedule at www.recreation.gov/ticket/234668/ticket/116.
Getting a Fiery Furnace Permit
Self-guided permits become available one week in advance at 8 a.m. on recreation.gov, and must be picked up in person at the Arches Visitor Center ideally the day before your hike. Permits are valid for up to six people and all members of your party must be present when you pick up the permit. Only 75 self-guided permits are available each day, so reserve yours as soon as possible. The park requires you to watch an informational video in person when you pick up your permit.
You won’t find traditional “trails” in this part of the park. There’s one 2.3-mile route marked by small signs on the rock, but the draw of this area is the labyrinth of unmarked passageways to explore. You’ll need to squeeze through tight canyons, balance on precarious ledges, jump gaps and hoist yourself up using your upper-body strength. GPS signal is often weak among the sandstone towers, so keep your wits about you to ensure you know where you’re going and where you’ve come from. You’ll likely encounter many dead-ends. If you’re an experienced canyoneer, you can even find routes in this area that require ropes.
The Fiery Furnace is like a maze, so once you start, you must finish by finding your way out.
Because of the strenuous nature of this part of the park, children under five years old aren’t allowed to hike here. Be sure to wear hiking boots or hiking shoes with good grip. Sandals aren’t allowed and other footwear like skate shoes are not recommended. Each person in your party must carry at least one liter of water. Bring a backpack for your water, snacks and camera to keep your hands free for climbing and balancing.
Reduce Your Impact in the Fiery Furnace
Be sure you know how to identify cryptobiotic or “living” soil before hiking in the Fiery Furnace and all desert ecosystems. Small living organisms make up a crust that protects the fragile desert landscape from erosion and harnesses the precious little water the desert receives each year. This crust can take thousands of years to form, and one footstep or tire track can kill it. Since there are no trails in Fiery Furnace, stick to sandy wash bottoms or rocky areas, which is required by your permit.
Another important place to avoid walking in Fiery Furnace is on the sand dunes. These dunes are important habitats for plants and wildlife, and walking on the dunes can destroy the plant roots that keep them intact.
Talk softly in the Fiery Furnace as your voice bounces off the canyon walls, amplifying it and potentially disturbing wildlife and other parties. Be sure to pack out everything you pack in including fruit peels and nut shells and human waste.