Figuring out the Fiery Furnace

Hello everyone, before we begin I must introduce myself. I am Ranger Min*. Please pay close attention to my guide or you may not make it out of the Fiery Furnace.

IMG_9157.JPG20180504_132303.jpgThe Fiery Furnace in my opinion is the best attraction of Arches National Park. It is a natural labyrinth. You will have to hike, climb, squeeze, jump, and maybe even crawl through this natural wonder. Though the object of most mazes is to get out, the object of this maze is to get lost.

Now you may be asking me: “Ranger Min, why would we want to get lost in a natural maze? It might take us the whole day to get out!”

Well, great question! After a few hours in the maze, you eventually do want to get out, but I promise you, the most WOW views and moments are when you venture away from the trail and explore.

There are small trail markings along the trail that will direct the way out of the maze. If you only follow these markings, you will have a mediocre time. If you want a superb experience, I would hike any other direction other than the direction the trail marker is pointing.

“Ranger Min, what if I do get lost?”

That is awesome! You will see some extraordinary things that many people probably haven’t seen. However, if you want to get un-lost, I highly recommend taking pictures of memorable landmarks. You can then look back at your pictures and then retrace your own steps. Also, it is important you remember where you saw the last trail marking. Make sure you do not make your own trail markings. This means do not leave goldfish or any other delicious food on the ground to mark your trail and do not create cairns. This labyrinth is meant to be as natural as possible with little human influence._DSC0969.JPG20180504_102253 (1).jpg

“Ranger Min, so can I walk everywhere since I am supposed to explore?”

No. Though there isn’t a trail, you cannot walk just anywhere. It is important that you do not walk on biological soil crust, plants, or on top of arches. You can walk on rocks or in sandy washes.

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I just love walking on sandy washes and rock. NOT on biological soil crust.

“Ranger Min, is there anything I have to worry about?”

Nope! There are some lizards and you are lucky if you get to see a snake but they like to stay hidden. Just be careful of poison ivy. There isn’t a lot of it but it is in the area. Also, there is cactus so make sure not to walk on or into it. LRG_DSC02002.JPGLRG_DSC02063.JPG“Perfect, now last question Ranger Min, can I go to the Fiery Maze whenever I want?”

No. Only 75 people are allowed in the maze from sunrise to sunset each day. There are also only two ways you are allowed to enter the maze.

One way is you have to book with the ranger led program. This hike is $16 for adults and $8 for children. If you want to book this hike, make sure to book it in advanced because it can fill up pretty quickly. For more information, check out the Ranger-Led Programs at Arches.

The second and I think this is the better way for exploring the maze is by getting a permit. Permits are purchased at the visitor center and are $6 per person. Permits are limited and are issued for specific dates. We purchased our permit the day before, however, I would get it a few days earlier because they sell out pretty quickly. You are required to watch a 10 minute orientation video. For more information about getting a permit, check out the Fiery Furnace website.


Now that you know about the labryinth, lets begin the hike.

You will park in the Fiery Furnace parking lot. There is a bathroom in the parking lot however there is no running water, so make sure you fill up your water bottles before you arrive. You can fill up your water bottles at the visitor center or at the Devils Garden Trailhead/Campground. Also, make sure you go to the bathroom before entering the maze.

Before you start the hike, I would definitely wear hiking boots. There are some sections of the hike where you will need great traction. You also get more protection from a hiking boot because you may hit your foot against a rock.

When you start the hike, you will notice there are two ways to enter the labyrinth. The best way to do it and the direction the arrows point is counter-clockwise._DSC0758.JPG20180504_101038.jpgRight away, we started the hike by having to climb down rocks. When you are climbing up or down, make sure your hands are free to hold on to rocks and to keep your balance. Don’t hold your phone in your hand while climbing or you will have both a cracked phone screen and cracked body.

Lastly, make sure your camera is tightly strapped around your neck or in your backpack so it doesn’t swing into a rock when you are climbing.

LRG_DSC01893.JPGWhen you enter the furnace, you are surrounded by tall, narrow canyons. You will feel so very small. The maze doesn’t even look large from the parking lot, but when you are inside you feel like you are in another world.

IMG_9191 (1).JPG_DSC0957.JPGLRG_DSC02133.JPG_DSC0835 (1).JPGThe best part about the furnace is that you feel like you are on undiscovered land that you are on a mission to explore the area. Since only a limited amount of people are allowed in the furnace every day, you barely see anyone when you are there. While we were in the maze, we saw about 10 people in the span of three hours. LRG_DSC0216620180504_113816.jpgBeing in the maze requires some athletic ability. You will have to squeeze through tight spaces and use your hands and feet to scramble up and down rocks. There are sections of maze that can be as easy or as challenging as you make it. It is up to you if you want to go up or under a rock.LRG_DSC02048.JPG_DSC0828.JPGLRG_DSC02080.JPG_DSC0791.JPGLRG_DSC01949.JPGIMG_0456.jpgThroughout the hike, you get a variety of scenery. The rock formations are truly stunning and the colors are something I have never seen before. We stumbled across a few arches and caves. Check out the spoiler at the end of the post to view some other arches in the furnace.LRG_DSC01961.JPGLRG_DSC02000.JPGLRG_DSC02119.JPGLRG_DSC02120.JPGIMG_9174.JPGThough there are not many trail markers, they are fairly easy to spot.

You will most likely not get cell service in the Fiery Furnace. If you are worried about getting lost and want a map, I highly recommend using the app maps.me. You can download the map for Utah and it includes a basic trail for the area. The best part about the app is that it knows your location even if you do not have any cell service. You also should use the compass app on your phone.

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Attempting to use the compass on my phone

After about three and a half hours in the furnace, we did it! We made it out! It was such a rewarding when we got out. Don’t worry, my sister is the one that took the picture below…we didn’t leave her behind in the maze.

_DSC0022.JPGLRG_DSC02220.JPGLRG_DSC02222.JPGIf you are little hesitant about doing the Fiery Furnace, don’t be. You will easily navigate yourself out. You too can be a ranger! This maze was the highlight of my Moab trip and it will be one for you as well.

Please let me know if you make it out and send me cool pictures of what you saw. We did not see everything and I would love to know what you uncovered!


To Do & Not To Do

What to do in the Fiery Furnace:

  • Get your permit or sign up for the ranger-led program early.
  • Bring lots of water. You don’t know how long you will be in the maze and there are no ways of getting water down there, so make sure you have enough for the whole day.
  • Bring food. You don’t want to be lost and hungry at the same time.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat. Though there is shade, you will still get burnt, so protect your skin!
  • Take your time. Give yourself at least three hours to solve the maze.
  • Explore and get lost.

What to not do in the Fiery Furnace:

  • Do not make you own trail markings.
  • Do not walk on biological soil crust, plants, or on top of arches.
  • Do not litter. If you bring a snack, make sure you take it out as well.
  • Try not to go to the bathroom in the Fiery Furnace. If you need to do #1, do it far away from a water source. If you need to do #2, you must carry it out with you, so bring a plastic bag…
  • Be quiet. Though there aren’t many people in this area, the rocks act as an amphitheater and if you talk loudly, everyone will be able to hear you.
  • Be respectful of people and nature.

**SPOILER ALERT**

There are two sections of the hike where there are signs that say there is a dead end. Go down this dead end. This means that there is a beautiful arch at the end of it.

The first dead end is to the skull arch. It will be on your left and it is about 1/3 into the trail. It really does look like a skull!IMG_0468.jpgThe second dead end is closer to the end of the trail. This arch is called the Hidden Arch and it really is hidden.IMG_0510.jpg_DSC0997.JPGThese are not the only arches in the Fiery Furnace, so keep your eyes open for other arches as well.


*Disclaimer: I am not a ranger. I just like to pretend to be one. I have only completed the Fiery Furnace once, however, I did make it out.