Free activities Hikes

Moonshine Arch | Vernal

(Last Updated On: November 6, 2019)

Moonshine Arch is a wonderful vista just north of Vernal at the end of a short, but moderate hike. We did this hike in the Fall when the air was cool, but be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat if you try it in the heat of summer.

Hike Info:

  • Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • Rating: Easy to Moderate because of hiking in sand and along slick rock.
  • Tips: No shade. Best in morning, evening, Spring, or Fall.

Some websites suggest that you can drive all the way to Moonshine Arch, but that is impossible. You can park just about a mile away and hike gently uphill to the arch. Once there, you get a sense of just how massive it is! There is a large grotto behind the arch, which makes a great echo chamber. You can also climb on top of the arch though be careful! It’s narrow up there. You can walk under the arch as well.

In order to reach Moonshine Arch, see our detailed directions and map below. The parking area is next to a green fence. The trail to this arch starts at this wide area through the green gate. Ignore the two roads that head in either direction along the fenceline, and instead walk down through the steep gully. On the other side, turn right and continue a very short distance to a left turn in the trail. You can’t miss this turn because another green gate crops up in front of you blocking your path.

Park your car in the open area here. Don’t follow the road that goes to the left. Walk through the gate and begin the hike.
Head straight down the steep gully.
Head right at the top of the gully. Then when you see the second green gate, take a left on this trail.

After the turn, the trail gets considerably sandier, and comes to another fork. Take the trail to the right in order to reach Moonstone Arch. After a short distance, the trail starts to climb over the slick rock outcroppings, and it climbs steadily for the last half mile. Finally, the side of the arch comes into view. At times the trail might seem tricky to find, but follow the other footprints, as well as tire marks on rocks left by ATVs.

The trail start out on the dirt road.
Soon the trail will turn to sand.
At the next junction, head right.
When you get to a large open area, head up the slick rock to continue on the trail.
The trail climbs up for awhile along the slick rock.
There are some steep sections, but the trail is mostly easy.
There are not many signs to help along the way, but once you see this Moonshine Arch sign, you are about 1/4 mile away from the arch.

Moonshine Arch is mostly hidden until come around the final corner. It is a large arch and you can take great pictures on either side. Once you’ve taken a few pictures, go through the arch and climb up into the grotto. Be careful as the rock is slick, but there are two separate areas to explore. Make sure to check out the acoustics, as the stone rings quite nicely.

This is the first sign that you have found Moonshine Arch.
You can walk right underneath and to the other side.
Standing under Moonshine Arch is amazing.
We also enjoyed climbing up behind Moonshine Arch into the open areas and caves.
There are lots of great views of the arch.
We think Moonshine Arch is a great Fall hike, but also fun in any season.

Moonshine Arch is a little piece of southern Utah in eastern Utah. It was a highlight of our trip to the Vernal area. For other family friendly things to do in Vernal, visit our post on Things to do in Vernal.

Directions

We used this map and directions to help us get there. We found it to be a little confusing. First of all, after you turn off the main highway, don’t turn onto the first dirt road you see–it’s pretty rough and you’ll be sorry. Take the second turn onto the wider gravel road. Then follow the directions on the pamphlet. And at mile 7.8 make sure to park by the green fence in the obvious wide parking area. Then follow our hiking directions above.

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