Rattlesnake Arches Trail

HARD 77 reviews

Rattlesnake Arches Trail is a 13.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Grand Junction, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. 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.

DISTANCE
13.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2444 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

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.

hiking
1 day ago

Spectacular views! A challenge but definitely worth it. Plan ahead, stop at the Colorafo National Monument visitor center or the BLM office and get a map. Road from CMN to the trailhead (upper) is steep and rocky, and you won't get all the way to the trailhead unless you have serious high clearance 4WD. I got within about 3/4 mile in a Forester. Minimal road and trail markings; map and a hiking app essential. Hike is mostly flat with a couple (short) steep and "are you serious?!!" portions. At the "first arch" sign, find the trail to the right to descend the mesa and hike around the backside. As soon as you round the end of the mesa you will begin seeing to the 7-9 arches. I was told you can't make it a loop so round-trip was 6.5 miles; but a (younger!) group I met on the way back was told you can scramble back up just past the first (last) arch. Oh, well! Watch the weather. I had some overcast and it was great -- but if sunny it would be incredibly hot. And the road could be impassible if muddy.

6 days ago

backpacking
7 days ago

This is definitely not a moderate hike. There were some sketchy ledges where you have be very careful and make sure you have a really good grip. Granted, we had a 30 lbs pack because we were backpacking so if you're just doing a day hike it would probably be easier. Also, bring lots and lots of water. It gets very hot and there are no sources of water. Whatever you think you'll need, double it. It was a very pretty hike with lots of beautiful scenery and not a lot of people on the trail. Overall, we had a blast.

hiking
13 days ago

Footnote: With lightweight packs and trail running shoes made it a 5.2 slab free solo climb.

hiking
13 days ago

Great hike with fantastic views of red sandstone walls and formations. We found the trail pretty easy to navigate other than when we arrived at Pollack Canyon. What helped us immensely is that we saw the trail sign in the bottom of the canyon which helped us navigate down the cliff on a trail marked with cairns to the trail sign. When going or coming, it is helpful to look for cairns and the trail sign in the canyon to help you navigate. We also found climbing through the 1st arch to be about a 5.2 free solo climb. Short but definitely not for someone without rock climbing experience. The weather on our hike was moderate with cloud cover most of the day. Even with that we each drank about 3 liters of water. Definitely worth the hike but also very challenging for someone who’s not used to navigating a trail and does not like exposure.

17 days ago

Beautiful hike but not well marked at all. Bring plenty of water and be careful when getting on slanted rocks to locate trail, slipped on loose rock and broke my leg on this trail 3 miles in! My friend and I were so lost trying to get me out. Trails need to be marked better.

20 days ago

Absolutely beautiful hike! A few points I will make, I would say this is closer to 15 miles round trip so BE PREPARED! Double the water you think you need and allow for 7-8 hours for round trip. The trail is not well marked in many places, we were lost for half of a very terrible hour. The way out is worth the effort, the way back is tiresome. Not sure I’ll do this again. A gps device is highly recommended for this hike.

hiking
26 days ago

Wide variety of opinions on this trail. I found it to be a destination hike. I didn't expect much to see enroute to the arch but instead found it to be gorgeous all the way in. A lot of varied scenery, nice canyons, overlooks with views. I also found the trail easy to follow and had no trouble staying on route.

I would agree I would not try to climb out unless experienced with class 5 climbing. Further the effort to ascend under the arch and then descend again back to the trail would not be worth the energy expended doing it.

Overall a great hike. Recommend to all.

backpacking
27 days ago

Lovely views while hiking the canyon ridge. Got completely lost after turning right at the R1 sign hiked past the sign with some difficult rock climbs up and down with an overnight pack. Lost the trail
Several times and never found our way down into the canyon. I wonder if the sign was incorrect? App didn’t seem to be working at the tome. If we are ever back in western co will try it again!

hiking
1 month ago

The trail is great with some incredible views of the valley. However, the hike was no joke. Moderate is a very kind way of putting it. Some of the climbs were fairly intense and the markers were scarce. If you plan on doing this hike know the following:
1. The hike is closer to 14-15 miles if you are starting from the PB parking lot.
2. Take whatever water you think is appropriate, double that and then bring more. Trust me.
3. Allow for at least 6 hours to complete.
4. The arches are over rated IMO. The views of the valley just prior to reaching them were way better.
5. Dont listen to someone if they say you can climb "through" the final arch. You cant
6. Bring a gps device. The trail markings are non existent in a few critical areas. Without one you wont be able to find where you need to go

hiking
1 month ago

Started from the Pollock Bench TH. Great views of the monument but relatively boring trek first 1.8 miles. after that point, thus trail is amazing. lots of walking into canyons directly without switchbacks. trail is hard to identify at points up until the last 3 miles to the destination point. used my wits and the app to find the trail when needed. I'd say the trail is about 25% shady, I picked a day with good cloud cover. I opted to climb through rainbow arch, wasn't as bad as I thought and took my time as there were some solid wind gusts. Once through the arch, go to the right for one last climb and follow the trail. Nice elevation gain throughout, about 13.25 miles out and back with the shortcut. Very peaceful and serene....only saw 3 hikers. One of my all time faves so far! Only negatives: Seeing orange peels thrown on the trail and dog feces. Pick up after yourselfs jerks!

hiking
2 months ago

Fantastic trail! I did this trail a few years ago and found it hard to follow. However, with the new signs, following "R1" all the way made it easy to get there and back without getting lost. I think this can be done in about 4 hours if you know the trail and can move quickly. Moderate to difficult in some parts. Definitely bring water and food. Might not be great for some kids or dogs with the class 3-4 downclimbing sections. Otherwise, amazing trail in the spring.

hiking
2 months ago

This is a great overnight backpacking trip. Difficult trail to follow once you drop down into the canyon. Didn't make it to the arches due to the fact we lost the trail, so we wound up camping over the lip of the canyon once we picked the trail back up. There's a good bit of cairns to watch out for - some are placed where you shouldn't go and some are placed where you should go, so they can be deceiving. There's some scrambling involved and if you bring dogs, be prepared to help them scramble as well. Bring water and high protein snacks because you're going to spend a lot of energy in certain areas. Worked up a good sweat even when the temperature was in the mid 50's.

With all that being said, the views along the way are pretty amazing! It's well worth it. Going back again this weekend to make it to the arches.

hiking
3 months 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).

3 months 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!

hiking
3 months 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.

5 months 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.

hiking
5 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.

6 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.

6 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

hiking
6 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.

9 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.

hiking
10 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)!

backpacking
11 months ago

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

hiking
11 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!!

backpacking
11 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.

backpacking
Friday, May 12, 2017

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.

Monday, May 01, 2017

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

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