Swanky Arch

Round Trip Distance: 1.4 - 6.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4769 - 4941 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 4 hrs.
Trailhead: Lost Spring Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: Natural arch, scenic views

Swanky Arch is located in the Lost Spring Canyon area in the backcountry of Arches National Park. It is accessed from outside the park via the Lost Spring Canyon trailhead. From there the route follows a 4-wheel drive road for 1.6 miles before cutting cross country for another 0.7 miles to where the arch can be found in a fin of rock that juts out into the canyon. To actually see the opening in the arch a person has to hike around the rim on either side. The arch itself lacks the same appeal that many of the more well known arches in the Park but the scenery in the area makes it worthwhile for experienced backcountry hikers to visit.

There are several options 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

From the trailhead follow the road through the gate and go right at the first fork. If you decide to drive the road to get closer to where the unmarked trail begins you will have to stay exactly on the road because as soon as you leave it you are in a Wilderness Study Area that is restricted to hiking and horseback riding only.

Continue straight toward a distant hill for 1.3 miles. At this point the road is climbing up the side of a small hill. Right between the 2 junipers in this photo there is a big rock that outcrops into the road. The place to leave the road and head toward Swanky Arch is just before the outcrop where there is just enough room for one vehicle to park. For this post we hiked the entire distance from the trailhead but this is where we left the road. There are no markers of any kind but the jist of finding the arch is to hike around the east side of the hill.

Once you get around the east side of the hill you an see the canyon a little more than a half mile away. Swanky Arch is in a fin of rock that juts out into the canyon.

A keen eye might be able to pick out the Park Boundary sign after hiking around the side of the hill. The sign is a good target to heard toward if you can spot it. From the sign you need to angle off to the left to get to the arch or you can simply keep hiking until you reach the rim of the canyon where you can actually see the opening of the arch.

The scene can be breathtaking when you first reach the rim of the canyon.

Swanky Arch by itself is a bit more hohum although after going through all the trouble to find it just so you can mark it off your list it is a welcome sight to see.

This is a view of the arches opening from the other side where you can get a little closer look at it.

And this is what it looks like from the top if you hike out onto the fin of rock.

There are a few other arches that you can see from the vicinity of the hill. This is a shot of Delicate Arch from about 1.4 miles away. If you click on the photo and enlarge it you can see a throng of hikers heading to it. From where we were we could even hear them.

There is a lot of nice scenery if you take the time to hike around the rim in both directions to see it. The road continues past the hill and dead ends at the Park Boundary where there is another neat canyon to see. One drawback of hiking around the rim is that the domes of petrified sand dunes are like obstacles that you have to find routes around or over requiring a lot more energy. As far as the 4-wheel drive road goes, not everyone will have a vehicle that can handle it but we have mountain biked it in the past and had an okay time doing that. It took us 2 trips before we found Swanky Arch which is about par when it comes to arch hunting without any directions to follow. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.