|Eye of the Whale Arch
Length: 0.5-mile round trip
Description: Eye of the Whale Arch is located at the southwest end of the Herdina Park area of Arches National Park between the Willows Flats Road and the Park Road 19 that goes up to the Klondike Bluffs—almost directly east of Balanced Rock and the Windows. The Eye of the Whale sits on the southeast end of a reef-style outcropping of sandstone fins and arches, a playground for bouldering enthusiasts and rockhoppers everywhere. The arch has long been used as a gateway into the entire Herdina Park area, allowing visitors to literally pass below the arch and into the less-frequented area of Arches.
To get there, take the Arches Entrance Road from the bottom up to the Balanced Rock turnoff. Instead of turning right, into the Windows area, turn left, onto the Willow Flats Road. Just under a mile up the Willow Flats Road, visitors will find the jeep trail that meanders 2.2 miles up to the trailhead. From there it is only a 0.25-mile hike up to the Eye of the Whale Arch and the desolate sandstone playground behind it.
Jeep Road off of Willow Flats Road
The Willow Flats Road was the official park entrance between the 1930’s and 1958. This jeep road connects Willow Flat to Park Road 19, going northwest up to the Klondike Bluffs.
Eye of the Whale ArchTrailhead
There is another arch accessible from this trailhead. Instead of heading south to the already-visible Eye of the Whale, follow the trail that goes north from the parking area for 0.26 miles, circling around the top end of the reef. The trail leads hikers toward an unnamed arch set within the sandstone fins.
Eye of the Whale Arch
From the trailhead-side of the fin, the arch does not look so spectacular or cetaceous. It is not until hikers have passed through the arch and looked back at it from the Herdina Park side that the heavy brow and circular eye socket become visible.
Herdina Park Area
The Arches National Park border is less than 2 miles from the Eye of the Whale Arch, and all of that desert between is known as the Herdina Park. Characterized by the same beautiful redrock formations as the rest of the park, but lacking the crowds or the development, this is a prime area for exploration in solitude.