Dark Angel is a small (~125 foot) but dramatic sandstone spire located in the relative backcountry of Arches National Park. The spire is gently overhanging on all sides and is situated away from other formations. As a result it is visible from miles away including sections of the main park road. The spire has 1 published route on it (West Face
5.11- or 5.9 A0, 2 pitches) though the original Bjornstad guidebook to the desert (1st ed.) makes mention of a second line (Northwest Face
5.10 A2) without providing further details. The West Face
route climbs generally solid sandstone (by Arches standards). Besides stellar summit views, the approach hike is the
reason to do this short climb.
DON’T SPOIL THE SOIL!
Much of the SE Utah desert including the Arches National Park is home to Cryptobiotic Soil Crust
. Watch where you step as this stuff is extremely sensitive and this “stuff” is also what’s keeping erosion at bay on hillsides. The NPS recommends using established trails, sandstone slabs, and/or sandy washes for your foot travel throughout the park. For further information see the many links provided by Dr. Brian Jenkins
: link 1
, link 2
, link 3
, link 4
, link 5
, link 6
While on the topic, don’t soil the soil either! Don’t be a filthy animal and pack out your solid waste!
From US 191 just north of Moab (3 minutes driving time to downtown), Utah turn into Arches National Park (on NE side of US 191) via the main park entrance (Visitors’ Center complex is right here as well). Drive the main park road for ~18 miles to its end at the Devils Garden Trailhead ignoring turn-off's for Garden Of Eden (at ~9 miles, just past Balanced Rock) and Wolfe Ranch (at about 12 miles). The road has a one-way turn-around loop at its end. Don't park in the first parking lot you come to (this is Campground parking) - continue on the loop till you see a parking designated for hikers.
Hike the Double O Arch trail on a NW heading for about 2+ miles to the Double O Arch. Brief description of the Double O Arch Trail can be found here
. The trail passes many arches (and has many well-marked side trails) and is quite spectacular. On the down side, it is saturated with tourists. Just past the Double O Arch, you'll get your first view of Dark Angel Spire. You have another 10-15 minutes of hiking (good trail) left to be done.
The Dark Angel is located within Arches National Park. In addition to the entrance fees (see below) the usual backcountry behavior rules of the national parks apply here (no dogs in backcountry, no power drills, tread lightly, leave no trace etc….). Backcountry camping is allowed in designated areas only and you’ll need an overnight permit.
Entrance fees are as follows:
7-day pass (minimum required) is $10 per passenger vehicle. Entrance fee details can be found on the official NPS website here
Car camping within Arches National Park (Devil's Garden Campground is essentially at the trailhead for Dark Angel) will cost you $10 per night. Details of fees, reservations, regulations etc. can be found here
(official NPS website). Backcountry camping information can be found here
Unofficially, you can find very good camping at large on BLM land especially in Castle Valley. Good primitive camp sites can be found at the standard trailheads for Castleton Tower
The NPS has a climbing page on their official park website. It gives good information about seasonal and other route and formation closures. It can be found here
. For more up to date conditions, try calling the visitors center (NPS contact information can be found here
) or better yet the local climbing climb shop, Pagan Mountaineering
located in Moab, UT. Their number is 435-259-1117.
External Links(1) Dark Angel page
site (formerly climbingmoab.com). One photo and the route (West Face) description.
(2) West Face of Dark Angel TR
from Bill Wright
More when I find them...
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