Looking for an off-the-beaten-path Moab experience? Keep your eyes peeled, or you’ll drive right past the entrance to Culvert Canyon—it’s literally a culvert under the train tracks. Passing through the surprisingly spacious tunnel feels like walking through the looking glass. Away from the noisy highway and crowded campsites lies a taste of canyon country at its best. The trail to Jeep Arch leads up and out of the wash. The hike isn’t strenuous in terms of elevation gain, but requires paying close attention to the cairns marking the trail.
What Makes It Great
If you were guessing by its name, you might think Jeep Arch is a stop on the annual Moab Jeep Safari. The natural sandstone arch bears uncanny resemblance to the popular off-road vehicle—it’s as if the driver floored it and went barreling through the wall, leaving a cartoonish Jeep-shaped hole behind. No motorized vehicles (or pedal bikes for that matter) are allowed on the trail.
The trail is well-cairned but requires some light scrambling. You’ll want to avoid stepping on delicate cryptobiotic soil, which stores water for thirsty desert plants. Stick to durable slickrock and sandy washes—a single footprint could take decades to repair. You can do the hike to Jeep Arch as an out-and-back, but for maximum fun, find the easy scramble up to the arch, take in the view of the La Sals, and drop down onto the trail on the other side for a lollipop back to the marked loop starting point.
Who is Going to Love It
Moab hikers seeking a reprieve from spring break crowds will find Culvert Canyon refreshing. Plan to bring water and, in high summer, start early or late—there’s little shade. There are a number of ways to scramble up to the arch. A hidden ramp offers the easiest scrambling but doesn’t eliminate exposure. Approach this hike with caution as the spring runoff can swell from storms. The culvert providing access to the canyon may be waterlogged after a heavy rain.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown, head north on US-191 (Main Street) for about 4 miles, then turn left onto UT-279 toward Potash. Follow 279 for 10 miles as it follows the Colorado River—you’ll go around a big bend. Keep an eye out for the signs for Corona Arch on the right; the culvert is about a hundred yards down the road. Park in the gravel pullout. Be sure to keep dogs on leash for this hike; it crosses lambing grounds for the tiny population of desert bighorn sheep.