Yellow Cat Flat

Round Trip Distance: 6.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4536 - 4707 feet
Cellphone: 1-5 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Yellow Cat Flat
Fee: none
Attractions: Rock collecting, solitude

Yellow Cat Flat is located just north of the Devils Garden area of Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Yellow Cat Flat is not part of the National Park but this post follows a trail that does cross inside the parks boundaries. The Yellow Cat area is dotted with uranium mines that played an important part in the countries history. The area is also popular with rockhounds that come looking for colorful specimens of agate, jasper and chert.

Access to the area can be made from two directions. From the north take Exit 193, the Yellow Cat exit, on Interstate 70 and drive south for 6.3 miles. Turn right and drive for another 3.5 miles watching for a double track that crosses the parched white flats. When the road is in good condition a passenger car can make the trip but something with just a little clearance would be better. To get there from the west take a dirt road about 4.5 miles south of Crescent Junction, drive 1.2 miles and turn right, continue for 2.5 miles, turn left and drive another 11.2 miles to the same spot. There aren't any signs that let you know that you have arrived. You have to depend on the pictures and a map.

The trail follows an old jeep road that is open to all means of travel for anyone that wants to follow it. As soon as you get to Yellow Cat Wash you will probably need a high clearance 4-wheel drive.

After crossing a small hill the rest of the route comes into view with the red sandstone of Arches National Park setting the scene in the background.

We made a little excursion from the trail near a small butte. We found several small rock shelters in the area and what looked like some exploratory holes that a miner may have dug.

Rockhounds will probably want to spend some time canvassing the area.

Continuing south toward Arches the trail is met by another road that comes in on the right.

At the Parks boundary we passed through the gate and followed the road to the right. A Park Service pickup went wherever the other road leads.

The trail eventually enters a wash and disappears. We continued hiking until time started running short before turning around. This part of Arches National Park is primitive with no official trails in the immediate area. It is illegal to collect rocks or anything else once you enter the parks boundaries.

The barren desert landscape has it own beauty wherever you look. It can also be unforgiving for those that visit without proper preparation.

One can't help but to wonder if it is possible to hike far enough up one of the canyons to connect to the Devils Garden Primitive Loop. We have hiked in Devils Garden numerous times and always stayed on the designated trail. There are several side trails along that route but none come to mind that head in this direction. The Yellow Cat Flat area should be appealing to off road explorers, rockhounds and curious hikers. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.