Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 4650 - 5050 feet
Cellphone: 3-5 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 45 mins.
Trailhead: East Creek
Attractions: Natural arch
Wombat Arch is located in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area near Grand Junction Colorado. The arch can be found along the rim of one of the branches of Bangs Canyon on the Whitewater end of the management area. How the arch came to be named after a four legged marsupial that is native to Australia is one of those mysteries that we might never know the answer to.
The parking area can be found off of Highway 141, just before the bridge over East Creek. Measure about 1.4 miles from the junction of Highway 141 and Highway 50 on the outskirts of Whitewater as you head west toward Gateway.
Just inside the gate there is a new double track trail that takes off on the left paralleling East Creek. Construction on the trail began in 2016 with the purpose of opening this section of the Tabeguache trail to 4x4 vehicles. While the new section of trail is basically complete we have never been here when the gate was unlocked. For this post we followed the new trail but either route works fine to get you up the hill.
Both routes lead to the top of the ridge where there is one of the Tabeguache trail markers.
The Tabeguache trail climbs steadily as it heads west. At times it will climb over a few slickrock benches while other stretches are a varying mix of dirt and gravel. In some spots there are some good specimens of jasper that might catch your eye. Some pieces would be big enough for a ring or pin but few would make a large enough cab for a bolo.
There are a variety of different routes that could be taken to get to Wombat Arch. For this post we are going to make use of an orange metal fencepost that makes a good trail marker. The post is on the righthand side of the road just past the 1 mile point from the trailhead.
If you walk straight toward the canyon from the fencepost for about 250 feet you should be able to spot Wombat Arch in the rim on the opposite side of the canyon.
From here the route is primitive in nature and requires a bit of scrambling in places. Try to find a faint trail that heads left along the rim.
After following the rim for about 500 feet watch for a few small cairns that point out a good route into the canyon.
Once you get down to the wash in the bottom of the canyon you can either follow it downstream a short distance to where you should be able to pick up a faint trail that leaves it and heads toward the arch or you can cross the wash and follow along the side of it to the same point.
Finding the faint trail is the easiest route to follow to the arch. We took a little detour to check out one of the many rock shelters in the area. Most of them have been reused in modern times significantly having an adverse effect on their archaeological value.
The trail continues past the arch to a spot where you can climb over the rim to get a view of the arch from above. Or you can do what we did and scramble up a narrow passage on the west side of the arch that is marked by a large cairn. We opted to scramble up the cliff to get on top and then take the other route to get back down. All in a days fun.
From the top the arch doesn't look all that solid making a person wonder if they should have spent all that time lounging around below it.