Uranium Arch

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 6.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 4567 - 5108 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Monitor & Merrimac
Fee: none
Attractions: Natural arch




Uranium Arch is located in the Mill Canyon multi-use area north of Moab, Utah. The arch is a very popular destination for all types of OHV enthusiasts as well as the occasional horseback rider or mountain biker. Other than an overall elevation gain of more than 500 feet the route to Uranium Arch is even an easier hike than its round trip distance might suggest.


Uranium Arch can be reached by several different routes. One is via the M&M (Monitor and Merrimac) trail and another is via the Sevenmile Rim trail. For this post we began by turning off of Highway 191 onto the Mill Canyon Road, continuing past the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Track Site, where there is an outdoor privy if you need a restroom, and taking the left fork onto the unmarked Cotter Mine Road at the sign in this photo.


Staying on the Cotter Mine Road as it passes the turnoff to the Halfway Stage Station leads to the spot where the M&M trail branches off on the right where there is ample parking near a primitive campsite.


The M&M trail begins with a steep climb that takes it up to Courthouse Rock. No camping is allowed from this point on.


The climbing continues on a moderate slope up a long stretch of uneven slickrock that later transitions to broken slickrock before becoming mostly a dirt track.


The various intersections that come up are all well signed for those heading to Uranium Arch.


There is a spur trail that branches off on the left that heads over to the Sevenmile Rim trail that doesn't have a sign at present. After passing the area above Corral Canyon there are a few other spur trails that come up. It's funny that this was our first time taking this particular route yet we had quite a few people stop and ask us for directions and advice. We not only had brought along a couple of maps but we also printed out a Google satellite view of the area and having already done some of the other trails we did end up being able to provide the needed assistance.


Shortly before reaching the arch the trail drops over a ledge that might be a problem for some vehicles especially on the return trip. We're mainly thinking of a couple of pickup trucks that we saw along the way that made us wonder how our Tundra would have done.


If you followed the signs you will have little trouble finding Uranium Arch as it appears all of a sudden after crossing a wash. There isn't any uranium up here so there is no need to worry about that. The uranium occurs in the Chinle Formation at the base of the towering redrock Wingate cliffs that Moab is so well known for. Core drillers came up here to to drill down through the cliffs as they prospected for mining opportunities in the valley below.


There is a nice big alcove behind the arch where you can look out to the west toward Monitor and Merrimac buttes.


When we made our visit for this post there was a raven feeding a couple of very noisy chicks in a nest that was tucked away on a ledge behind the arch. It made us wonder if the one that made the most noise got the most food.


There are several loop options for getting back as well as lots more country to explore over toward Determination Towers and Tusher Canyon. A map can come in handy for figuring it all out. We had parked our truck at the bottom and hiked our way to Uranium Arch and back. Even with stopping to take a few hundred photos of the trail and some of the countless wildflowers along the way and giving directions to other people we only managed to spend 3 hours from start to finish. Other places to visit in the Mill Canyon area include Slickensides Arch, Tusher Tunnel, the Halfway Stage Station and the 2 Mill Canyon dinosaur sites. As far as Uranium Arch goes, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.