Covert Arch

The north side of Covert Arch facing Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
The north side of Covert Arch

Arches National Park has over 2,000 arches within its borders.  Some arches – like the Windows, Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, etc. – are famous, while others – like Ring Arch – are off the beaten path.  Covert Arch is part of this latter category.  In fact, Covert Arch barely makes it into Arches National Park: the border is the rim of the canyon, and since the arch branches off of the canyon wall, it’s technically in the park!

Quick Stats

Round Trip Length: 5.2 miles Trail Type: Out & back Elevation Gain: 784ft. Pets: No Fees: None

Zoomed in on the south side of Covert Arch near Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
Zoomed in on the south side of Covert Arch

Covert Arch is not easy to access, however.  While many of Arches National Park’s arches are found on the west side of the Salt Creek Drainage, Covert Arch (sometimes called Convert Arch) is on the east side.  The only “easy” way to access it is to take a high-clearance 2WD dirt road to the parking area for rock climbers exploring the upper reaches of Lost Spring Canyon.  From here, you can walk (or drive if you have 4×4) the rough dirt road to a social trail across the desert to the arch.  I got lost along the way, but it was still a really great hike if you don’t mind wayfinding and seeing no other human beings.

The High Clearance Trailhead for Covert Arch and canyoneering Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
The High Clearance Trailhead

From the high clearance trailhead, you want to keep walking down the dirt road (on the other side of the gate which may or may not be closed).  In the early morning, the views were quite good across the grasslands surrounding the road.  No wonder ranchers liked this area for cattle back in the early part of the 1900s!

Hiking off down the 4x4 road en route to Convert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Hiking off down the 4×4 road

You can see into Arches National Park, proper, from along the road – I spotted the South Window and Landscape Arch was visible from the parking area.  At the road junction after a quarter mile, be sure to take the right (more westerly/northerly) of the two roads.

The South Window (right) from near where I turned off of the road to Covert Arch and the viewpoint over Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
The South Window (right) from near where I turned off of the road

About 0.7 miles from the High Clearance Parking Area, you’ll cross a wash and then pass between two large trees, one on each side of the road.  Just after the trees, you’ll likely see several social trails going off on the right.  Take one or any of these right (north-ish), off the road, to begin the cross-country section of the hike.  Most of these social trails will bring you where you want to go, sooner or later.

The turnoff is near those two trees on either side of the Winter Camp Ridge Road toward Convert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
The turnoff is near those two trees on either side of the road

Not too long after leaving the road, the sometimes-cairned route crosses a wash.  What we should have done here was to go left (downstream) a short distance to pick up the cairns again.  But not knowing any better, we went straight across and possibly a bit right to pick up a wash that headed generally west.  It was pretty easy hiking and I congratulated myself on finding a good route.

Morning views into Lost Spring Canyon en route to Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Morning views into Lost Spring Canyon

The trouble with this route is that it doesn’t take you to Covert Arch.  It gets you to the canyon rim where we had a fantastic view into the upper part of Lost Spring Canyon about mile 1.5.  On the one hand, this is not a very good way to get to Covert Arch.  On the other hand, this view is amazing and I’m really glad I didn’t miss it.

Looking down on Lost Spring Canyon en route to Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Looking down on Lost Spring Canyon

From the view over Lost Spring Canyon, we turned left generally along the canyon rim.  We scrambled over slickrock rises, tried to avoid cryptobiotic soil (please don’t step where others haven’t stepped before – there are rocks and trails you can use), and generally blundered our way west.

A panorama one of my group members made of Lost Spring Canyon en route to Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
A panorama one of my group members made of Lost Spring Canyon

With my GPS and a good sense of direction, we ended up above Covert Arch about mile 2.1.  Not bad for getting lost along the way!

Covert Arch (on the right) from the first viewpoint.  You can see where it is, but that's about it.  Lost Spring Canyon and Arches National Park, Utah
Covert Arch (on the right) from the first viewpoint. You can see where it is, but that’s about it.

Our first viewpoint was on an outcrop of rock about as close to the arch as you can get and still get a reasonably good view of it.  While you can see the arch from here, it’s off to the side a bit.

Covert Arch from the second viewpoint.  Much more impressive!  Lost Spring Canyon and Arches National Park, Utah
Covert Arch from the second viewpoint. Much more impressive!

Several of us walked about 0.3 miles left (south) along the canyon rim and then west to get a view from across the sidecanyon.  It’s a very impressive vantage point on the arch.

A closer-up photo of Covert Arch from the second viewpoint above Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
A closer-up photo of Covert Arch from the second viewpoint

I’d read that there was a way down onto the rock shelf that passes under Covert Arch.  On our way along the rim, I was pretty sure I’d seen where the route went over the edge.  It’s near a larger-than-the-others-nearby tree and may be marked by a cairn, near where the canyon rim makes a jag from north-south to east-west.

The beginning of the route down off of the cliff to get to Covert Arch above Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
The beginning of the route down off of the cliff

The route looks steep and slippery, but it also looks doable.  Per my exploration, this is the one and only possible place along this section of rim to scramble down.  Also, note that you’re in Arches National Park as soon as you go over the rim, so national park regulations apply (for example, no rope swings, no drones, no fires on the slickrock, etc.).

Hiking along the shelf toward Covert Arch above Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
Hiking along the shelf toward Covert Arch

Once down on the shelf, walk north toward Covert Arch.  The slickrock slope is steeply sloped at times and is littered with rocks that have fallen off of the cliff above.  However, it is walkable.  Even one of my group members whose shoes weren’t very grippy made it all right (though I do recommend decent grip for this part of the hike!)

One of my group members under Covert Arch... can you even see her?  Arches National Park, Utah
One of my group members under the arch… can you even see her?

Standing under Covert Arch is awe-inspiring.  It’s so much bigger than it looks from above!

Silhouette of another group member under Covert Arch near Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
Silhouette of another group member under Covert Arch

For the best views, walk through Covert Arch and scramble up/over the jumble of rocks on the north side.  It’s a little sketchy in places, so take your time and use care.  But once up on the rocks and dirt, you can look down on Lost Spring Canyon, into Arches National Park, and get a great view of the rib of rock of which Covert Arch is a part.  This is a panorama one of my group members took; it’s hard to get far enough away to take it all in with a single photo.

Panorama of the north side of Covert Arch over Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
Panorama of the north side of Covert Arch

Once you’re finished enjoying the arch, retrace your steps along the shelf and scramble back up to the rim.  From here, we were able to pick up the vaguely cairned trail that led us in a much straighter line (and on a much easier path) back to the wash by the road.  So if you’re following my GPS track, you’ll probably want to follow my return track to get to Covert Arch!

Hiking back from Covert Arch to the Winter Camp Ridge Road, Arches National Park, Utah
Hiking back to the road

Round Trip Trail Length: I did 5.2 miles.  Not taking in the Lost Spring Canyon View shouldn’t change the mileage significantly.

Elevation Gain: 784ft. (4,721ft. to 5,072ft.) – given GoogleEarth’s ability to deal with cliff edges, I’d guess the elevation gain listed here is fairly generous.

Facilities: None

Fees: None, though technically if you enter Arches National Park you should have some sort of entrance fee.  We had our park pass with us and didn’t think about it one way or the other.

Looking up Lost Spring Canyon from the north side of Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Looking up Lost Spring Canyon from the north side of Covert Arch

Trail Notes: Remember to walk on rock or social trails/washes so you don’t crush the fragile soil in the area.  That shouldn’t be too difficult.  Use care near the edge of the canyon, as there are no guardrails and it’s a long drop.  If you’re canyoneering, you must first get a free day-use permit from Arches National Park (available online).  I highly recommend the scramble down to the shelf if you’re up to it – the views are so good from under and around the arch.  Most of the hike is in the Lost Spring Canyon Wilderness Study Area, so regular wilderness regulations apply.

The Dark Angel formation in the Devils Garden area of Arches National Park, Utah
The Dark Angel formation in the Devils Garden area of Arches National Park

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

The cave beneath Covert Arch near Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
The cave beneath Covert Arch

GPS Coordinates for Covert Arch

TH: 38.779601, -109.481800 (38°46.77606′, -109°28.90800′ / 38°46’46.5636″, -109°28’54.4800″) (5,076ft.) (0.0)

Road Junction: 38.776991, -109.482698 (38°46.61946′, -109°28.96188′ / 38°46’37.1676″, -109°28’57.7128″) (5,080ft.) (0.22)

Leave Road: 38.772771, -109.489766 (38°46.36626′, -109°29.38596′ / 38°46’21.9756″, -109°29’23.1576″) (5,025ft.) (0.71)

Holes and swirls in the rock near Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Holes and swirls in the rock near Covert Arch

Lost Canyon View: 38.778286, -109.497581 (38°46.69716′, -109°29.85486′ / 38°46’41.8296″, -109°29’51.2916″) (4,892ft.) (1.49)

Covert Arch Viewpoint 1: 38.781257, -109.504467 (38°46.87542′, -109°30.26802′ / 38°46’52.5252″, -109°30’16.0812″) (4,804ft.) (2.12)

Views down Lost Spring Canyon en route to Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Views down Lost Spring Canyon

Covert Arch Viewpoint 2: 38.779963, -109.504889 (38°46.79778′, -109°30.29334′ / 38°46’47.8668″, -109°30’17.6004″) (4,808ft.) (2.41)

Trail down: 38.780348, -109.503296 (38°46.82088′, -109°30.19776′ / 38°46’49.2528″, -109°30’11.8656″) (4,808ft.) (2.60)

Covert Arch: 38.782058, -109.506243 (38°46.92348′, -109°30.37458′ / 38°46’55.4088″, -109°30’22.4748″) (4,786ft.) (2.85)

The north side of Covert Arch near Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
The north side of Covert Arch

Regain road: 38.772746, -109.48974 (38°46.36476′, -109°29.38440′ / 38°46’21.8856″, -109°29’23.0640″) (5,025ft.) (4.47)

End: 38.779560, -109.481783 (38°46.77360′, -109°28.90698′ / 38°46’46.4160″, -109°28’54.4188″) (5,077ft.) (5.17)

Views across the desert toward Lost Spring Canyon en route to Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Views across the desert toward Lost Spring Canyon

The gpx file for my trek to Covert Arch (including to the Lost Spring Canyon Viewpoint) can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

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(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Looking down Lost Spring Canyon from the north side of Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Looking down Lost Spring Canyon from the north side of Covert Arch

Getting to Covert Arch

The recommended route to Covert Arch begins at I-70 Exit 193.  (I hear there are two other ways of getting in – one from US-191 (I tried that and it was flooded and too sketchy for my van) and another from Owl Draw Road off of UT-128, but neither of these are recommended for 2WD vehicles).  Take the exit (it should be signed for Yellowcat) and turn south.  All of my mileages will be from the westbound entrance/exit ramps.

The 4x4 portion of the Winter Camp Ridge Road en route to Covert Arch, Arches National Park Utah
The 4×4 portion of the Winter Camp Ridge Road

After 6.2 miles, a road will go off on the right (west) at approx. 38.8679514, -109.5499733.  Continue straight (south) to mile 7.8, where you want to go left at a Y in the road (approx. 38.8489544, -109.5358285).  A half a mile beyond this Y, you will see a couple of old ore hoppers on the left (north) about 38.8479059, -109.5283851.  This is the Yellowcat Mine.

Landscape Arch (on right) at sunrise from the parking area for Covert Arch and Lost Spring Canyon, Arches National Park, Utah
Landscape Arch (on right) at sunrise from the parking area

Keep driving to mile 9.3.  Take the road that goes right (south) about 38.8504449, -109.5107063.  At mile 12.0 (approx. 38.8242522, -109.4966222), a road on the right leads west to the trailhead for Lost Spring Canyon.  You want to continue straight (south).  Ignore the sideroads, just like you’ve been doing at several points along the route.  The next turn is at mile 16.3 (approx. 38.7975664, -109.4352337); turn right (west).  This is Winter Camp Ridge Road.  About a tenth of a mile down the road, a second way in from the “main” road enters from the left.  Continue west.

Map provided by the park service showing the routes to Lost Spring Canyon and Covert Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
Map provided by the park service showing the routes to Lost Spring Canyon and Covert Arch

The roughest part of the Winter Camp Ridge Road begins about mile 1.75, near an area often used by campers (“Winter Camp” approx. 38.786794, -109.463053).  The road crosses rocks and slickrock.  It’s totally doable by a high clearance van like mine, but we were a bit worried about making it back up the hill and through this section on the way back (we spun just slightly but were fine).  Right after this, the road descends steeply to a lower flat area, where the road once again becomes quite passable.  At mile 3.0, the road reaches a fence and gate about 38.779601, -109.481800.  A small parking area on the left (south) is the High Clearance Trailhead.  To the left of the gate is an informational sign about hiking to Covert Arch and climbing in Lost Spring Canyon.

Visual trail map and elevation profile for my trek to Covert Arch and Lost Spring Canyon and back, Arches National Park, Utah
Visual trail map and elevation profile for my trek to Covert Arch and back

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If you’re looking for hikes beyond the traditional routes in Arches National Park, check out this guide.  It sticks (generally) to trails and established routes, but it will also likely bring you on adventures most visitors miss out on for lack of knowledge of their existence.

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