Rattlesnake Arches Trail

MODERATE 56 reviews

Rattlesnake Arches Trail is a 14.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Grand Junction, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

14.1 miles
2424 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




horseback riding

nature trips

trail running



wild flowers



Rattlesnake Canyon provides outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation. Geologic features in this area includes arches, spires, windows, giant alcoves and desert patina. Between these canyons are pinon-juniper covered mesas which slope downward to the Colorado River.

5 days ago

Hiked this with perfect weather (Nov-2017), should have read more of the reviews beacuse it took us a while to realize we had to hike through the arch (which isn't for everyone; some will be uncomfortbale climbing up).

10 days ago

Stunning!! Go if you can! The road to get to the 5 mile hike is horrible! Have good clearance. We got stuck and had to get a tow. Otherwise it is one beautiful hike! You’ll want to spend the day there so bring a lunch, a camera, a hammock, a friend, and lots of water. :) enjoy!

13 days ago

Incredible! Strenuous with some dangerous rock scrambles. Very difficult to follow trail so use your app!! Climb down and up from canyons to ridges with beautiful views of sagebrush, juniper and resident birds. Ferruginous structures abound! The arches are all the way at the end, but very worth it. I climbed down through first arch - 5.8 free climb slabby and sussed out, I would recommend hiking to the end of the trail and then deciding to climb up if you have it in you, this can cut out a mile or so. Did this on a 50 degree February day, hiked very fast and finished in 5 hours, but should plan for closer to 8 hours with plenty of water even in the winter.

1 month ago

I thought this trail was beautiful. I started from the upper rattlesnake arch trail head, which makes this hike around 7 miles instead of 14. The trail head requires 4wd, though only for the last 2 miles really (of course there wasn't much snow on the ground. ) You can make this trail a loop, cutting off a lot but you have to climb through the first arch, (or last if you cut down to Pollock bench first) but it seemed pretty steep and the dog couldn't make it. So then we hiked back. The trail sign that indicates the end is a little hard to see as it is not actually on the trail, I added about 1/2 mile one way thinking "there's supposed to be a sign". It doesn't help that you can't really see the second to last arch until you're looking back wondering where the hell the sign is. The arches were so beautiful, honestly I kept saying to myself "this is amazing! I can't believe it! " Well worth the effort to get there.

2 months ago

One of my all-time favorite hikes but I have to disagree with the "moderate" rating. There is significant trail-braiding that makes it super hard to follow. There are some class 3 sections that are really exposed. If you hike in the summer, you will need at least 4 liters of water and know that shade is almost non-existent on this 14-mile hike. But the arches are worth it . Second-largest collection of natural arches in the world. It's gorgeous. I know there are other, easier ways to the arches but that's not the point The trail as listed and described on this page is awesome, challenging, beautiful, solitary and hot. Really really hot. 4 liters of water, minimum. I also recommend a GPS. I built a couple of cairns to help those who came after. If you successfully find this route, you might think about doing the same.

3 months ago

Spectacular hike but make sure you bring Lots of water! Stunning views and well worth the effort. Hiked this in June with a friend and had a great time.

Easy to lose the trail, had to turn around. Trying again with app. Hope we make it this time.

3 months ago

You can get to the top of the Arches by taking a right instead of a left at the last. 2.2 trail split (loop). Some people choose to climb up through rainbow arch, thus the "loop." Pretty sketchy if you mess up but, a little girl said it was easy..gulp...I wish I saw the route they took. #mountainkids

3 months ago

This trail is great. Seems like just a plain trail for a while then boom you're at one arch then another. Hiked in and had lunch we brought then hiked out. Dogs went nuts at one point but never saw why. Just growled and kept looking around like they weren't sure either. Bring lots of water.

One of my favorites. Best in the spring and fall and well worth the miles.

6 months ago

This is a poorly marked trail. If you start from the Pollock trail, the beginning is well marked, but about half a mile after splitting off toward Rattlesnake Arches you start hitting exposed rock areas. Other reviews mentioned cairns...they are great where they haven't been knocked over, and a knocked-over cairn is just a pile of rocks that is indistinguishable from the surrounding scree. I was clearly not the only person to have difficulty following this trail because those rock areas have several well-worn, false trails leading away in different directions and all you can do is pick one, follow it until ends, then backtrack and pick a new one. This wastes a huge amount of time...in the desert sun.

This trail (as I hiked it today) was potentially dangerous. If you bring enough water for a 14 mile hike and spend several hours (cumulative) searching for the right path, you could be in serious trouble.

I made it half way through this trail, and had to turn back because I was running low on water. Maybe next time I will drive in the back way.

7 months ago

THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE MORE THAN A 5M HIKE!!!! While you will probably have trouble getting to the trailhead (definitely need a 4WD..we drove an Xterra and still had to park .4m from the trailhead and walk because it got so bad. Also, the spiderwebbed roads are not well marked until you get past the confusion) it is very much worth it! We hiked to the first arch or arch overlook (.5m). Climbed down, and then through the arch...hit all of the other arches and then turned around and backtracked (back through arch). Climbing down/up the arch is very doable however, I would not recommend doing so without another person with you. There are spots where we had to boost one another but there is also plenty of places to get your footing. If we had not parked the car where we did, we only would have hiked 3.5-4 miles. Once you past the last arch...you are just hiking around and up the canyon so we just turned around. Trail got hard to follow once or twice, just hug the canyon and pay close attention! We almost missed one!! So much better than Arches National Park if you ask me, totally secluded but just as breathtaking. Plus, if you tell them where you are headed they will not charge you a fee. Do your research before going (always)!

8 months ago

Splendid hike! Camping was simple and peaceful. Make sure to bring plenty of water!

8 months ago

We did the hike from the Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead... get there by driving into Colorado National Monument and turning onto Black Ridge Road taking you out of the NPS park and into the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness area. The dirt road you take to get there is pretty rough at certain points definitely requiring 4x4 to get past some of the obstacles in the road. We actually parked about a quarter mile from the trailhead because there was a huge rocky obstacle we didn't want to go over in our SUV. Nevertheless we made it to the trailhead and it's 5 miles total out and back from the trailhead instead of doing the whole 14 miler from Fruita. The hike was on flat ground most of the way right to the big eye candy arches and formations that are truly amazing to walk alongside with just as cool formations in the canyon behind you. Bring water and sunscreen!!

8 months ago

My Wife, dog, and I made this trip an overnight backpacking trip. Solid info was a bit hard to find and a little ambiguous. From Fruita, you can access the Pollock bench trailhead by following 340 until you get to Kings View rd, turn right and follow this road until you get to the Pollock Bench trailhead. Entering at this trailhead is the 15.5 mile out and back version of this trail. From the start, follow P1 (Pollock) until you see R1 (Rattlesnake), this is the split towards Rattlesnake Canyon/Arches. The trail is not that hard to follow as long you know how to look for cairns and to realize when a false trail is blocked off by rocks or logs placed over them. This version of the trial is 5 miles until you reach the 'loop' for the arches. We set up camp 5 miles in and then hiked the 2.2 miles (one way) to the arches. There are some class 2/3 scrambles to navigate, but nothing too intense. The last mile to mile and a half (before the arches loop) is steep UP and where the majority of your elevation gain comes from. The arches loop is fairly flat and easy. We started at 8am on Saturday and finished around 10am on Sunday. As other have said, there is no water, so bring it all with you. We each carried 5.5 liters and the dog carried 2. This was enough, but would not have wanted any less.

There is also the 5 mile round trip version of the trail to see the arches, this is accessed by Rimrock dr (via the National Park) and then following Blackridge road to the rattlesnake arches trailhead.

9 months ago

Did this as an overnight backpack trip with 7 women. Requires removing packs and handing them down at the final drop down into the bottom of Pollack, and then some removing and handing up on the ascent a half mile later. Great camp spot opportunities at about mile marker 4, between some large rock formations. Dropped heavy packs there and continued on to the arches.
The "short cut" through the last arch "Rainbow" is rather challenging and not for the feint of heart. It requires steep rock climbing. The only saving grace is the grippy sandstone. With 7 women of varying heights, it took lots of shoving, pushing, and pulling each other up to make it to the top. That being said, it felt amazing once we did, and the ability to cut off a mile from the return trip was great. Warning: if you take the short cut, at the top TURN RIGHT for the short cut. If you turn left you will follow the ridge and add back on the mileage. Happy trekking.

9 months ago

I wasn't in love with this trail the trail was clear not many signs got lost 3 times I never did see the aches maybe I'll fly in so I can. Most definitely do not take a baby on your back

9 months ago

This was a wonderful hike with many beautiful views.

9 months ago

Amazing. Definitely recommend camping out there. BLM asks you camp about 200 paces from the trail. It is about 7mi from pollock bench TH to the arches. The trail is flat for the first mile or 2, then begins to descend and then is flat again until you reach Pollock Canyon which is a steep in and out and back up on flat for a bit until more intense incline up to the last part which is all flat. This is about 5 mi in where the trail stops inclining and it's a 2mi walk to the arches. I camped in this area... A few points of consideration:
1. Study the map before going as the trail is hard to follow and there are many "false trails" created by people who have gone astray
2. Don't forget this app will show your location on the map-even in airplane mode. This will help you check and even find your way back to trail.
3. Bring enough water- obviously
4. Once you get into Pollock Canyon, and are trying to find your way out, there are 2 brown tall and skinny signs showing you where to go to take the trail out and continue towards the arches. Note, if you find yourself heading down the canyon looking for the signs you've gone too far.
5. Just pay attention to the trail ahead and any trail markers (signs, stacked rocks, juniper logs blocking a false trail, etc.) and you'll be good. Don't just stare down at your feet or you will easily follow "false trails"

This is well worth the effort and is an amazingly scenic and diverse adventure.

10 months ago

great landscape and arches and not very crowded! camped near the black ridge wilderness area and heard mountain lions at night. such a hidden gem.

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