Winter Camp Arch

Round Trip Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4969 - 5105 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Lost Spring Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: Natural arch

Winter Camp Arch is located in the desert area northeast of Moab and southeast of Cisco, Utah. The interesting arch sits above a wash that drains into Lost Spring Canyon which is within the boundaries of Arches National Park. The arches location along Winter Camp Ridge is where it gets its name. There is no established trail leading to the arch but multiple options exist.

There are several routes for getting to the trailhead. One good one is to take Exit 193 on Interstate 70 east of Thompson, Utah. Follow the Yellow Cat Road for 9.3 miles and turn right. Go left at 10 miles and continue on the Highlands Road. At the 12 mile point stay to the left and continue for another 4.3 miles and turn right. Follow the Winter Camp Ridge Road for 3 miles to the Lost Spring Canyon Trailhead. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for the last 3 miles due to possible deep sand and a rocky outcrop about a half mile from the trailhead.

You can also park at a primitive campsite right before a rocky outcrop at the knob of a hill and get to the arch by finding your way down to the wash and following it. The arch is visible from the slickrock area behind the primitive campsite if you know exactly where to look. Follow the cliff from right to left until you can see it. Finding a good route down to the wash from this spot requires doing some exploration but once you get into the wash it is very scenic.

For this post we drove all the way down to the Lost Spring Canyon trailhead and began from there by walking back up the road for about a quarter mile before cutting cross country toward the arch.

If you zoom all the way in on Google Maps it looks like there is an old double track that leads to the arch but once you actually get there it is indistinguishable from the rest of the terrain. We had hand drawn the route that we wanted to take on Google and then exported the kml and converted it to gpx format and preloaded it into our GPS and that is what we followed.

There was nothing special about following our preloaded route and the last part of it to get into the wash ended up being a big hassle. Once we were in the wash though it became pretty neat.

As you head down the wash you have to hike past the arch to find a good spot where you can climb on up to it. The wash is deep enough below the wash that you can't see the arch and have to guess where you think it might be from having seen it earlier.

Winter Camp Arch isn't exactly spectacular but it is a nice change from most of the other arches in the area. Instead of the red wingate or rosy colored entrada arches around Moab this one looks more like light colored Navajo or perhaps Dakota sandstone.

There is yet another route that you could take from the Lost Spring Canyon trailhead to Winter Camp Arch by hiking north along the fenceline until you reach the wash and then hiking up the wash to the arch. That route is quite a bit longer and a lot more adventurous. It all comes down to how much time and effort that you want to put into your hike.

For the trip back we found a better route to get back to where we had left the road by following a side wash that is across from the arch. That is the route that the GPS file included with this post follows. There is a big spillover that you have to hike around but overall it is a better route.

Winter Camp Arch would be easier to get to with a trail to follow but judging from the complete lack of tracks around it there aren't many people that know that it is there. It didn't look like anyone had been anywhere near it in years. As remote an area as it is we've never been back in here without seeing other vehicles. Most of the other people are canyoneering one or more of the 3 nearby slot canyons or hiking to Convert Arch. As for us, we knew the arch was there and wanted to find it. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.