When you think of Arches National Park, you probably think of its most famous feature, Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch

If you’ve only ever seen a picture, you may not realize how big it is.

Hint: it’s big.

The park also has a number of features called “fins”. These are tall vertical ridges formed by erosion of water, ice, and wind. Most of the park’s arches were fins before wind scooped out the lower openings.

A number of fins, seen from “Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop”
The top of “Double O Arch”, looking finny

The Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop trail is the best way to see the fins of Arches. The trail starts in the popular, highly accessible area near Landscape Arch. There is an actual sidewalk up to this point. Walking up a sloped fin attains Navajo Arch, a popular turnaround point. The crowd really disappears after Double O Arch. There are signs warning that the trail is more difficult after that, which is completely true. Arch enthusiasts will be disappointed by the rarity of arches on the rest of the trail, but it’s the best place to see the fins.

Fins on the other side of “Private Arch”

Off the side of the already lightly traveled Primitive loop is a detour to Private Arch. Go there. It’s a great arch, and you’re likely to have it to yourself. The arch provides some shade, making a nice lunch spot.

Not on the trail, but you can walk on Private Arch.

Walk through the arch and look to the sides to see more fins. The remainder of the Primitive loop takes you around and through the fins, on occasionally difficult scrambles. The Primitive Loop is a pretty full day, especially in the heat of Summer. Definitely worth it, though.

The other “fin” hike at Arches is Fiery Furnace. You can only go there with a ranger tour, or with a special permit. They restrict it because the area is deep inside the fins and it’s easy to get lost. We took the tour.

Fins in Fiery Furnace

Fiery Furnace is named for its bright red colors, not its heat. Because it offers more shade than most of the park, it’s actually cooler.