||Eye of the Whale
Arches National Park
of the Whale is an interesting arch inside the Herdina Park section of Arches National
Park. This arch is easily accessible to all able bodied family members. The arch also
provides excellent access to those wishing to explore the seldom visited Herdina Park
Eye of the Whale is a wonderful
desert adventure the entire family can enjoy. Plan on spending 1 or 2 hours at the arch
depending on how much exploring you want to do. The route is 1/4 mile each way along an
established path. Elevation gain on this hike is virtually nil. This route should be easy
for most family members. Eye of the Whale requires
you carry a least enough water for half-a-day in the desert, depending on current
Navigation for this route
is easy. GPS waypoints are provided for convenience. There is nothing difficult about the
hike. The USGS 7.5' Map titled "The Windows Section" shows Eye of the Whale. All
waypoints and maps for this route use the WGS84 datum. The route is rated class 1 I using
the Yosemite Decimal System.
Eye of the Whale Facts:
Eye of the Whale is an old
fin style natural arch weathered into the Entrada sandstone. It has a span of 37 feet, a
height of 12 feet, a thickness of 25 feet, and a width of 41 feet. The arch was added to
Arches National Park (then a monument) on January 20, 1969, when the monument was more
than doubled in size by presidential proclamation.
From Arches National Park Visitor Center drive into the park for 8.7 miles to the signed
"Balanced Rock" parking lot on the south (right) side of the road. Directly
north of the parking lot is the Willow Flats 4-wheel drive road. This is the old entrance
road to Arches National Park used from 1936 until 1958. Follow the Willow Flats road west,
past a pit toilet and picnic area, for 0.7 miles to a rough 4-wheel drive road on the
north (right) side. All vehicles should be able to access this point, but the rest of the
route requires 4-wheel drive, mountain bike or a little extra hiking.
Follow the rough 4-wheel drive road northwest for 1.9 miles to the signed "Eye of the
Whale" Trailhead. The arch should be visible to the southwest. The trailhead easily
accommodates several vehicles. There is no restroom or kiosk at the trailhead.
From the Eye of the
Whale Trailhead (N38° 42' 55", W109° 36' 06"), you should have a reasonable
view of the arch to the southwest. Follow the well-traveled use trail 1/4 mile southwest
as it leads directly to Eye of the Whale (N38° 42' 47", W109° 36' 13"). The
arch is not very impressive when viewed from the trailhead (east) side. To get the
dramatic "eye" look you must scramble through the eye and look back at the arch.
This route is often used by those who wish to further explore the Herdina Park section of
Arches National Park.
In 1982, Gerry Roach
wrote a self published book titled "Arch Bagger". This was his first book and a
mere 300 copies were printed. The book is long out of print, and it is very rare. Eye of
the Whale was one of the 39 arches identified in Arch Bagger.
After Roach published Arch Bagger,
the National Park Service defined new rules for climbing in Arches National Park. Climbing
is prohibited on any arch identified on current USGS 7.5 minute topographical maps. This
rule presumably affected 16 of the 39 arches described in Arch Bagger. One of them being
Eye of the Whale.