The Fiery Furnace: The Most Amazing Hike in Arches

Among its over 2,000 natural stone arches, Arches National Park holds a particular labyrinth that captivates the adventurous spirit like no other: the Fiery Furnace. This complex network of sandstone canyons, towering spires, and narrow passages offers an immersive experience that is easily the best hike in Arches National Park.

The Fiery Furnace is not your typical hike; it is a maze-like exploration through tight slot canyons, along sandy washes, and up slickrock scrambles that require physical fitness, good navigation skills, and respect for the delicate desert ecosystem. Unlike the park’s more defined trails, the Fiery Furnace allows visitors to explore off the trail and encourages exploration and adventure. As Utah locals, we’ve hiked all over Arches National Park and throughout Southern Utah, and we can confidently say that the Fiery Furnace is one of the best hikes in Utah.

Fiery furnace hike

What is The Fiery Furnace

Unlike what the name may seem, the Fiery Furnace isn’t just a super hot hike. In fact, it has some of the best shade while hiking in Arches National Park of any hiking area. It’s a series of rock spires, fins, and arches that are twisted together in a mazelike configuration. It’s disorienting and inspiring all at the same time.

Here’s what the National Parks Service has to say about the hike:

“Hiking in the Fiery Furnace is a different experience from other trails in the park. You may encounter dead ends and it can be easy to get lost. There are small markers for one counter-clockwise route in the Fiery Furnace, but there are many other possible paths, and getting lost is a real possibility. GPS units do not work well due to the towering sandstone walls. Navigating its complex passages requires physical agility and careful observation. To protect the wildlife and plants that inhabit sand dunes and drainages between the rock walls, you will need to choose your steps wisely.”

Fiery furnace hike

If you’ve got a good sense of direction, love adventure, are happy to scramble up and down rocks, and the thought of taking a few wrong turns doesn’t scare you, then the Fiery Furnace just might be the hike for you! If you are looking for a great itinerary for going to Arches National Park make sure to read our 1, 2, and 3-day itineraries and check out bucket list adventures in Arches and Canyonlands.

Fiery Furnace Hiking Regulations

The fiery furnace is the only place in Arches Park where you are encouraged to go where you want. Instead of following a set trail, you must follow guidelines. Here are the rules for hiking the Fiery Furnace:

  • Hike only in washes or on rocks
  • Do not disturb or step on vegetation or cryptobiotic soil crusts
  • Do not climb on top of any arches
  • Groups of 6 or less
  • Permits are required
  • All hikers must be age 5 or older

In the past, there was not an age minimum, as we did this hike when our oldest was a baby in our baby backpack. However, now, kids must all be over age 5, even if a young child will be carried the whole time.

Fiery Furnace Hike Information

Fiery furnace hike

The journey through the Fiery Furnace is less about following a set path and more about weaving through an intricate network of sandstone walls. The area is named for its vibrant red and orange hues, which seem to glow like fire under the sun’s intense rays. The hike can take a minimum of 2 hours, though we can pretty easily spend 4-5 hours in there exploring. If you’re interested in doing some canyoneering inside of the fiery furnace, you could spend an entire day there. The time you spend inside depends on how much of the area you wish to explore and how often you stop to admire the unique rock formations and hidden arches.

Fiery furnace hike

We love hiking the Fiery Furnace because it gives us so much freedom to explore off the beaten path, which is typically frowned on in the national parks. As long as you’re hiking in washes or on top of rocks you can go just about anywhere. This is a place where you’ll want to explore dead ends (that’s where some of the best arches are), shimmy through narrow canyons, and scramble up to great viewpoints. Our kids especially LOVE hiking here since we avoid the crowds and there’s no one telling them they need to get down off of everything.

Read Next: Ultimate Guide to Lake Powell

The Fiery Furnace Hike “Trail”

Fiery furnace hike

The Fiery Furnace hike doesn’t have an exact trail, though there is a loop that’s occasionally marked with arrows. If you turn right when you get on the trail at the parking lot, you’ll start down the path that follows the arrows. Initially, the trail descends on a rocky path into a sandy wash where the marking arrows begin. There are 20 arrows in total, though it’s easy to miss a few, so don’t worry if you don’t see them all. The first few arrows are easily spotted, leading through narrow passages and over rocks, but as the hike progresses, spotting these markers becomes more challenging. The “trail” sticks to washes or rock surfaces, avoiding any vegetated areas to protect the fragile ecosystem and living soil crusts. Some parts of the trail require light climbing or scrambling and there are plenty of narrow slots to squeeze through.

What to Take in the Fiery Furnace

The Fiery Furnace isn’t incredibly remote, but the chances of getting lost mean you need to be extra prepared. Here are the absolute essentials to take on your hike:

  • 2L water per person (more if you plan to be gone over 2 hours)
  • Snacks
  • Weather-appropriate clothing – dress in layers for the cooler temperatures inside
  • Small First Aid Kit
  • Backpack to keep hands free for scrambling
  • Durable pants (they will rub against the rocks a lot)
  • Sturdy shoes with excellent traction
Fiery furnace hike

Map for Fiery Furnace

The Parks service does not have an official map of the fiery furnace map and most GPS tracking is not super accurate in there. However, having an offline map downloaded to your phone before you get into Arches can be a lifesaver (literally). While it’s difficult to track every step of your journey (sorry Strava lovers), you can get a good idea of where you’re at if you can get a signal (which is probable whenever you get to an open area or closer to the top of the canyon walls. This is really helpful to gauge where you’re at in the area, and critical if you get lost or turned around.

We like to download the offline maps on the app or download one section from google maps. I find the offline maps in to be the most comprehensive and since it allows you to download an entire region, it’s really useful in the Utah desert!

Self-Guided Permits for The Fiery Furnaces in Arches

Fiery furnace hike

The Fiery Furnace is a heavily regulated area in Arches National Park. Only 75 permits are issued per day and the park rangers are diligent about checking permits both as you go in the area and whenever a park ranger sees you inside of the fiery furnace. Permits are ONLY available online 1 week in advance of the day you want to hike, starting at 8am. Self-guided permits for the Fiery Furnace cost $10/person and allow you access to the area for the entire day.

Permits must be picked up in person and every member of your group must be present at pickup. You’ll be required to watch a video about safety and regulations in the Firey Furnace and answer follow-up questions. Permits can be picked up the day before your hike or the day of.

Groups are limited to 6 people and everyone must be age 5 or older. No permits are issued the day before or the day of a hike, and the Arches visitor center stops passing out permits 1 hour before the visitor center closes.

Note: In the past, permits were only available in person at the Arches visitor center. If you see this information out there, it is out of date and inaccurate.

Fiery furnace hike

Other Adventures Nearby:

Fiery Furnace Ranger Led Tours

Fiery furnace hike

Guided ranger tours are available from March-October and cost $16/person and take 2.5 hours. Ranger-led hikes can have up to 15 people in a group and are very popular. The parks service recommends that if you do not have experience hiking the fiery furnace that you go on a ranger-led hike. Ranger let tours of the fiery furnace are available to reserve online 7 days before your requested tour date.

What to do When You’re Lost in the Fiery Furnace

Not sure what to do when you get lost in the Fiery Furnace? Notice I said WHEN, not IF…nearly everyone gets a little lost on this hike, so know you’re not alone. First of all, don’t panic. Getting a little off the path and exploring is part of the adventure here. Try going down somewhere new and see if it sparks some sort of idea of where you should go.

Fiery furnace hike

If you’re totally lost and starting to panic, try and get a GPS signal to see where you are on your offline map. Signals are easiest to pinpoint your location when you’re in an open area or closer to the top of the canyon. Safely find your way to one of these to determine your location!

Best Time to Hike the Fiery Furnace

The best time of year to hike the Fiery Furnace is in the spring and the fall. Our last visit was during the winter and it was really cold inside (with a little bit of ice too). The temperatures for the fiery furnace hike are the best from mid-March to May and again in October and November.

Is the Fiery Furnace too hot to hike in the summer?

While the Fiery Furnace does provide pretty good shade, it can still be really hot in the summer. We recommend hiking there early in the morning while the air is still cooler. While we recommend that many hikes in Arches are great in the early evening, we do not recommend hiking the Fiery Furnace close to dark. The chances of getting lost in the Fiery Furnace are pretty high, and getting out in the dark can be incredibly difficult.

Parking for the Fiery Furnace

The parking lot for the Fiery Furnace is quite small, probably only fitting about 15 cars. On our last visit, we went in around 9am and got the last available parking spot. When we came out, there were at least 5 cars waiting for a parking spot. If the parking lot is full, you might want to take a quick trip over to check out the Devil’s Garden area for a bit while you wait for the crowds to die down.

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