A highlight in Arches National Park; still wonderful the second time!
Hiked Saturday, October 6, 2012; reviewed October 19, 2012 See this review on Trip Advisor.
This was the second time through the Fiery Furnace as part of a Ranger led hike for my wife and I. We first went through in the fall of 2009. On that hike we were just 2 folks in a group of 25 or so. This time around, there were 20 of us all from the same group and no one else, just us and our guide, Ranger Mike. Both experiences in the Fiery Furnace were highlights of our trips to Arches National Park and the Moab area.
This was a great hike and lot of fun for the whole gang. Since our group was the only ones on the hike, we really had a great time both poking fun at and supporting each other along the trail through the fins that make up the Fiery Furnace. Ranger Mike was an outstanding guide and provided a great balance between on the educational aspects, safety and keeping the pace along the trail.
The trail through the Fiery Furnace is about 2 miles and is really fairly easy. The Ranger-led hike takes about 3 hours, but there is a good amount of time spent learning about the area. During the hike, there are three or four obstacles that everyone must overcome, but none are that difficult. The Ranger first explains how to negotiate the obstacle, and then demonstrates the method after which then the whole gang will help each person make it through. It is a great learning experience and a lot of fun. Our group ranged in age from mid-forties to mid-seventies and was of varying degrees of fitness (although all were fit) and everyone made it through the hike with flying colors.
There are a limited number of folks who can go on the hike each day. The National Parks Service leads two hikes each day, each limited to 25 people (there are also hikes lead my private guides, but I have no info on those). You should make reservations for the hike through the recreation.gov website; reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance. Cost (as of 2012) is $10 per hiker; a great deal. This is a popular hike and general does sell out.
I’ve read a lot about the pace of the hike and how it is slow as the Ranger has to set the pace to the slowest hiker. Honestly, that is OK as this is a hike and an area that should be savored. Plus by going with the Ranger you get several other advantages: the Ranger knows the route through the maze of fins; the Ranger will point out all the stuff that you will otherwise miss if you are not looking up or down or to the side at the right time; and the Ranger will teach each hiker how to care for the environment of the area, something that each hiker should strive for.
There is a lot to see and do in Arches National Park and the Fiery Furnace hike is one of our many favorites. If you are unable to get a reservation, do not fret as there are many other great hikes in the park (do the Devil’s Garden loop, particularly the primitive trail, and you will get a little of the feel for the Fiery Furnace). But if you can get the reservation for the Fiery Furnace, by all means, take the hike. It is truly a gem in the National Parks system.
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