Rifle Arch

Round Trip Distance: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5820 - 6350 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Rifle Arch
Fee: none
Attractions: Natural arch, rock climbing, wildflowers

Rifle Arch is located north of Rifle, Colorado just off of Highway 13/789. The arch is cut into the Grand Hogback sandstone formation. At 60 feet high and 150 feet wide this isn't what you would consider a small arch.

The trailhead is at a pullout along the highway just past mile marker number 7.

The trail crosses the sagebrush flat to the hillside where it climbs up to the top of the hills along the road.

The easiest part of the hike is probably where the trail crosses the mesa on the top of the hills.

The trail drops down what looks like an old road. The arch can be spotted in the hogbacks to the east.

After the trail descends the old road it crosses the gully at the bottom and begins climbing through the pinon and juniper forest heading toward the arch. As the trail nears the arch there is a side trail that breaks off to the left that rock climbers use to get to where they scale the hogbacks.

The trail ends at a bench below the arch. The arch can be clearly seen from here but if you are trying to take a picture of the arch you will find out that it blends in so well with the cliffs behind it that it doesn't show up very well. From here you can scramble the rest of the way up the mountain as far as you like to get better pictures or to climb around under the arch.

There is a lot of talus and loose dirt if you do decide to keep climbing but it is easy enough if you have your hands free. Once you get this close it is easier to appreciate the size of the arch.

Further north along the cliff you can see the slightly sloped wall that is popular with rock climbers.

On this day there were more people that had come to climb the hogback than there were hikers that had come to see the arch. Rifle Arch is worth the little bit of effort that it takes to see it. Of course, you can also see it with a pair of binoculars from the highway but what fun is that. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.