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Across The Great Wall at Arches National Park

Saturday, February 18, 2023

I was originally planning to spend all three days this holiday weekend in the Bears Ears region, but a winter storm had come through earlier in the week that dropped some snow in the area, so I figured I had better postpone that trip for a little while since the roads would probably be a melting muddy mess. Although we got a fair bit of snow in Grand Junction from the same storm, it looked like Moab was mostly spared from new snow, so on Saturday morning I decided to head that direction for one last day trip this winter before things really start to get busy down there. I went to Arches National Park so I could finally do a hike that I’ve been thinking about for many years, which would be to hike across The Great Wall. I’ve driven below The Great Wall may times over the years and thought it was finally time to hike across the top of it for a closer look!

I left home early on Saturday morning and made it into Arches just as the sun was coming up for the day. It was a bit overcast this morning, so there wasn’t much of a sunrise, but I still stopped for a couple photos as I made my way to the northern end of The Great Wall to begin the hike.

The Organ

The Organ View

Driving below The Great Wall

Below the Wall

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

Rippled Landscape

Rock Pinnacle

Rock Pinnacle

As soon I started hiking to the top of The Great Wall the sun finally started to come out a little.

Along the Edge

The views were nice as I made my way to the top of The Great Wall.

Morning Wall Walk

Across The Great Wall

Rock Pinnacles View

Rock Pinnacles View

At first I tried to stay as close to the rim as I could, but that didn’t last long because there are a lot of deep canyons that bisect the sandstone ridge, so I did the best I could.

Walking the Rim

Around the Chasm

Birds Eye Arch

Birds Eye Arch

I hiked south a couple of miles until I reached the rim of Courthouse Wash. Look closely and you might be able to spot Ring Arch in the photo below.

Courthouse Wash

I continued out to the end of a peninsula of sandstone that juts out into Courthouse Wash.

Sandstone Wandering

Sandstone Wandering II

Peninsula Point

Peninsula Point

Here’s a view from the end of the peninsula overlooking Courthouse Wash with Gold Bar Rim and Arth’s Rim on the horizon.

Peninsula Point Overlook

I stopped to rest and eat a snack at the point and then I turned around and started heading back. I tried to take a more direct route back, but I’m not sure it really saved me much time and energy…

Heading Back

Looking Back

From the top of The Great Wall there were good views to the northeast of Elephant Butte and The Windows throughout the hike.

Elephant Butte View

Making my way back toward Balanced Rock.

Back Toward Balanced Rock

Barbed Arch

Barbed Arch

>> The Great Wall Photo Gallery


  1. Jim Hirschinger, Fruita
    Jim Hirschinger, Fruita February 21, 2023

    Question. So on a hike like this (or the drive below), how do you identify the specific features that you are naming in photos? Is there a specific hiking or mapping app that you use? We use Google Maps, Hiking Project, Alltrails, park maps, and none of them in my experience name as many features as you do.

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat February 21, 2023

      I reference a lot of different sources.

      A number of older guidebooks have some of the commonly-used local names, especially for the Moab area (guidebooks by Fran Barnes, for instance), plus the maps by Latitude 40 have some names that are not found on Topo maps. Kelsey books have some names of features. As far as arches go, this database (which requires a paid subscription to access) has most of them:

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