Eye of the Whale

Eye of the Whale

Arches National Park

          Eye 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 area.

General Information:
Click Here for Map           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 conditions.

          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.

Sierra at the Trailhead Eye of the Whale

Trailhead Information:
          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.

Eye of the Whale

Route Information:
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.

Arch Bagging:
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.

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