The Fiery Furnace: Your Guide To Hiking Arches National Park’s Most Unique Trail

Desert wash between sandstone fins in the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

Tucked away in plain sight, is a twisted labyrinth holding towering fins and hidden arches that entice you to explore and transport you to a whole different world.

Each step feels like inching towards some treasure, masked amid a maze of glowing oranges and reds. 

Below is everything you need to reserve your spot to hike the magical Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park!

What is the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park?

The Fiery Furnace is a collection of sandstone canyons, fins, and arches set in the center of Arches National Park in Moab Utah. While entering the Fiery Furnace requires a reservation and therefore takes a bit more planning, it is the most unique adventure you will have when visiting Arches National Park.

Less hike and more free-range exploration, the Fiery Furnace offers visitors the opportunity to roam without being confined by a trail. Step inside and follow where your curiosity leads you to create an adventure that will be etched in your memory forever.

What Makes a Fiery Furnace Hike Unique

Male hiker in a deep slot canyon in the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

A Fiery Furnace hike starts out fairly similar to most other hikes in Arches National Park. You walk out of your car in the parking lot and descend down a sandy trail, stumbling over rocks and gingerly making your way around the fragile desert plant life. 

At the Fiery Furnace, you are quickly ushered into a maze of towering fins striped in gues of red, orange, and white. The refreshingly cool, crisp air from a series of shaded canyons hits you within a few steps and is a welcome contrast to the hot sun reflecting off the desert floor.

Unlike most hikes, in the Fiery Furnace, you are encouraged to forge your own path. The freedom is both a blessing and a curse. We gave ourselves full permission to explore and found ourselves enjoying the opportunity to put our critical thinking to the test. Sometimes we all need to get a little lost. 

Filled with carefree joy, the Fiery Furnace is the perfect place to play. Jump from rock to rock, remove your backpack to squeeze through a claustrophobic alley, scramble up to the top of a fin and shimmy across a narrow ledge, and then slide under a small archway to make it through to a secret tunnel. 

As you wander around, you will most likely find yourself wondering if anyone else has ever been in the spots you are discovering. This sort of whimsical adventure is exactly what is in store when you secure a permit for the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park. 

Not only does securing this permit allow you the opportunity to enjoy a really unique experience in this park through this natural labyrinth, it also allows you to bypass the need for an Arches National Park Timed Entry Ticket!

Reserving a Fiery Furnace Permit 

Group of sandstone fins at the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park

Permits for the Self-Guided Exploration of the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park are released one week in advance at 8am Mountain Time through

When you go to reserve, you will see options for a Ranger Guided Tour or a Self-Guided Exploration, depending on your preference. We wanted to be free to explore as we saw fit, so we chose the Self Guided permit so we could have the luxury of getting lost in the maze of fins and sandstone at our own pace.

We set an alarm reminder on our phones so we didn’t miss the permit release!

If you would prefer a guided tour along a set route, the Ranger Guided Fiery Furnace tour option would be a great choice. These are only offered during select seasons. Both self-guided and guided permits fill up quickly and we recommend advanced reservations for both cases.

Step By Step Fiery Furnace Permit Reservation Instructions

Step 1: Bring up and click on the Self-Guided option 5-10 minutes before 8 am

Step 2: Have a universal clock ready to ensure your time is accurate!

Step 3: At around 7:59:55 am (Mountain Time) refresh your browser

Step 4: Select the date that has just been released. This date will be 1 week out. Confirm the number of permits you need for your group (6 person max per group).

Following the process above, we were able to secure 2 permits on our first try for a Friday in June.

Cost: The cost is $10 per person you are reserving a permit for. Payment is required to reserve your reservation. You will be given 15 minutes to complete this purchase.

Picking up your Fiery Furnace Permit

Hooray! You secured your permit online, now what?

A few important things to note:

  • The confirmation of your reservation is NOT your permit
  • With your Fiery Furnace permit, you will NOT need a timed Entry Ticket to enter the park
  • You will need your confirmation email as well as personal information (address, vehicle license plate number) to obtain your permit
  • You are required to watch a 7-8 minute video to learn more about how to protect Fiery Furnace’s fragile ecosystem before receiving your permit. After learning more about Fiery Furnace and hiking regulations, you will receive a ticket to display on the dash of your vehicle as well as a tag to display on the outside of your backpack.

You Have 2 Options When Picking Up Your Fiery Furnace Permit:

Option 1: Advanced Permit Pick up. Pick up your permit the day before your hike at the Moab Information Center in downtown Moab between 1 pm and 4 pm.

IMPORTANT: You may be turned away even if you get there before 4 pm. We arrived at 3:50 pm and were told that the last video for the day had already started and that we would have to pick up our permit the day of our hike at the Arches Visitor Center.

Option 2: Same-day permit pick up. 8 am-4 pm at the Arches Visitor Center. Show the confirmation email of your reservation at the entrance station. You will be given a map with the day’s sticker to show to the Ranger stationed in the roundabout ahead. Then head to the Visitor Center. When you arrive head directly to the right through the doors to talk with a Ranger and fill out your permit with your information. Once complete, you will be grouped with any other permit holders and led to a theater to watch the Fiery Furnace movie. Allow time for this process and factor it into when you show up to do your hike. You will still have about a 20-minute drive to the Fiery Furnace trailhead from the Visitor Center. This permit is good for sunrise to sunset on your reserved day.

How much time should you budget for same-day Fiery Furnace permit pickup?

After being turned away when trying to pick up our permit in advance at the Moab Information Center, we arrived at the entrance station to Arches National Park around 2:40 pm on the day of our hike permit. After waiting in line, going to the Visitor Center, talking with a Ranger, watching the movie, and receiving the permit we ended up getting to the trailhead around 3:45 pm and finished the hike around 7:30pm.

Times may vary depending on how busy the lines at the entrance station and visitor center are and when other hikers are trickling in to watch the video.

Picture of Fiery Furnace permit on the backpack of a hiker at the trailhead at Arches National Park with the La Sal Mountains in the distance

Permits must be displayed on the outside of your backpack (or otherwise easily visible)

Fiery Furnace Hike Details

Purple and yellow wild flowers blooming in front of male hiker and fins at the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park

Location: Arches National Park, Moab Utah

Driving Time: 35 minutes from Downtown Moab to trailhead (without entrance station traffic)

Parking & Directions: After driving up the iconic switchbacks to reach the park, which sits atop a mesa overlooking Moab, you will drive past an overlook for the La Sal mountains and then Balanced Rock to your right. Continue on the main Park road until you see a brown sign for Fiery Furnace. This will be on your right. The parking lot and trailhead will be on your right as well. This is a large circular lot that was fairly empty; helped both by the permit requirement and timed entry system. You can view the Fiery Furnace and look out at the Salt Valley from here as well, even if you do not have a permit.

Fiery Furnace Trailhead Amenities: Pit toilets; no water (water available at the Visitor Center)

Distance: You decide! 2.1 miles for the “suggested” route that is followed on the Ranger Guided Tours, which includes a path through Fiery Furnace and a trip to Surprise Arch. Possibilities are unlimited so you can really do as much or as little as you like! This being said, you should really count on getting lost in this crazy maze so you might end up doing more mileage than you originally planned. It’s all part of the fun!

Elevation Gain: 492 feet when following the “suggested” route

Duration: 1-4 hours, depending on how much you plan to explore

When to hike this trail: Seasons: Best during Spring, Summer (although hot), and Fall (be mindful of conditions, check with Rangers)

Hiking Counter-Clockwise: From the parking lot, start the hike from the path to the right. This will allow you to pick up the trail arrows in the correct direction. These will help guide you through and out of the Fiery Furnace if you need them. This is also the route for the guided tours. This is the easiest way to navigate.

Hiking Clockwise: If you are not worried about the arrows for guidance, there really is no incorrect way to explore this area! Entering through the left trail from the parking lot will leave you heading in the opposite direction of the arrows, making them even more difficult to spot. If you want to pave your own path, there is no wrong choice!

Very small arrows that blend in easily with the rocks mark a suggested path through the maze. You WILL miss some and there are no cairns or other signage. If you adventure off-route to explore different sections, it can be confusing to find your way back out. We suggest having a downloaded map to help you navigate. Service is limited here and GPS may not work well.

Small arrow on brown post signifying the suggested route through the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

You will see signs that say “Dead End Ahead”. GO! Some of the best places we found were in these dead-end sections. As the Rangers will encourage, these areas are meant to be explored! Let go of those rigid plans and the pull of needing to follow the set path. This trail is all about exploring freely.

With our additional exploration, we ended up doing a total of 5.88 miles and just over double the elevation of the suggested route. We absolutely loved the ability to customize our Fiery Furnace experience!

All Trails Map

The route on AllTrails follows what Rangers use on their guided tours.

Rules & Regulations for Hiking in the Fiery Furnace

  • Permits are good for sunrise to sunset on your reserved day
  • You may not join up with other groups; no dogs are allowed
  • Carry in, carry out. All waste, food, etc. must leave with you.
  • You must only walk on rocks and in washes. This protects the Cryptobiotic soil and the abundance of life that exists here
  • It is asked that you keep your voices low to respect other hiker’s peace and solitude
  • Your permit must be easily viewed by Park Rangers (attached to your backpack)
  • Wear shoes you feel comfortable climbing rocks in (no sandals)! We also suggest a smaller backpack as you will need to navigate through some tighter spaces and plenty of water!
Picture of Fiery Furnace permit on the backpack of a hiker at the trailhead at Arches National Park with the La Sal Mountains in the distance

Fiery Furnace Arches & Points of Interest

While there is no set trail you need to follow while exploring the Fiery Furnace, it does contain some amazing features that Arches National Park is known for. Here are a few you may want to check out during your excursion:

Skull Arch

Skull Arch set among a blue sky in Fiery Furnace hike at Arches National Park

Surprise Arch

Surprise Arch nestled in a hidden canyon area in the Fiery Furnace hike at Arches National Park
Surprise Arch really did catch us off guard. It was the perfect place for a secluded picnic!


In addition to the unique arches to find, there are countless orange and red fins to explore, climb, and hike around!

Male hiker on top of a fin in the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park
Zach loved challenging himself while climbing to new heights on the fins of the Fiery Furnace!

Is the Fiery Furnace worth it?

Female hiker doing some rock scrambling down a steep section in the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

A Self-Guided Fiery Furnace hike is a free-form adventure that you can craft how you would like. If you do generally follow the “suggested route” it is a perfect balance of walking through thriving plant life, squeezing through narrow passageways, and light rock scrambling,

We love the endless possibilities the Fiery Furnace experience allows for. You could walk in a little bit and turn around, follow the 2.1-mile suggested trail exactly, spend most of your time climbing in boulder fields and shimmying up fins, or explore off the beaten path to find more nooks and crannies.

Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park is a natural playground. It is beautiful, unique, and set up in a way that makes you feel like you are the only one around. Finding solitude in popular National Parks is not always easy to come by and here it feels pretty effortless. In fact, we entered Fiery Furnace at the same time as another couple and never saw or heard them again.

In total, we passed two hikers enjoying a snack in the shade of one of the Fiery Furnace’s massive fins and then passed a group of five hikers right outside the exit as we were finishing. We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves and that made it so special.

No matter what type of excursion you are looking for, you can create it for yourself among the magical fins, canyons, desert washes, and boulder fields of the Fiery Furnace. That is what makes this such a unique and fulfilling experience. You get to create the experience and connect with this magnificent place in a way that speaks to you. A wonderful way to create a meaningful adventure that speaks to you and fits your needs.

Fulfilling Travel Tips

Be Present. Be Where Your Feet Are.

A Self-Guided Fiery Furnace Exploration is an opportunity for countless mindful moments depending on where your unique adventure leads you. With the different avenues you can explore, and with the ability to move through at your own pace without a true “destination” in mind, one great way to find moments of presence is to tap into the senses.

For example, you might crawl into a slot canyon or sit under a fragile arch and focus on your sight and really take in all the colors, textures, and features of the area around you. Or perhaps you close your eyes and really focus on all that you can hear or what you can feel from where you sit or stand. With so much to explore and a lot of freedom to do it, taking a moment to really focus on one specific sense of your choosing can be a great way to fully enjoy this unique experience while being fully present. Allow your curiosity to run wild!

Hiking couple in front of bright orange fins in the Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park


Reserve Your Arches National Park Timed Entry Ticket:

Timed Entry Reservation

Reserve Your Permit:

Reservations for self-guided Fiery Furnace hikes can be made 1 week in advance at 8am MT at

Steps for Improving your chance at securing a spot:

Step 1: Bring up the website and click on the Self-Guided option 5-10 minutes before 8 am

Step 2: Have a universal clock ready to ensure your time is accurate

Step 3: At around 7:59:55 am (Mountain Time) refresh your browser

Step 4: Select the date that has just been released. This date will be 1 week out. Confirm the number of permits you need for your group (6 person max per group).

Arches National Park Campgrounds:

Devil’s Garden Campground

Moab Area Accommodations:

Moab is full of great campsites, ranging from RV resorts to no-frills campgrounds, and free boondocking.

Here are some highly-rated campgrounds in Moab:

You can also check out HipCamp and TheDyrt for more unique camping experiences and accommodations.

RV Rentals: If you are looking to get closer to nature but don’t have an RV, try renting an RV Share rental near Arches National Park. We used this service when renting out our Casita and found them to be high quality and easy to use!

Another great option is glamping or nature-centric stays. Here are some great options near Arches National Park:

You can explore all Moab area accommodations and compare prices on, which is a great resource for unique stays at the best rates.

Looking for other resources to help you plan your most fulfilling trip to Moab & Arches National Park?

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