The Moonshine Arch Trail in Vernal, UT is a family friendly 1.5 mile roundtrip hike with a fantastic reward at the end. If you happen to be in the Vernal, Utah area, it’s a hike worth experiencing.
The closest two attractions are Red Fleet State Park and the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument. Both are worth your time.
The arch is about 85 ft long and about 40 ft high. It is beautiful as are the caves/hollows beside them.
Let’s take a closer look at this hike and see if it’s right for you.
Where Is The Moonshine Arch Trail Head?
The Moonshine Arch Trail head is 8 miles outside of Vernal, UT. Google took us to the wrong location, so use caution. The AllTrails app gives decent directions. But these listed here will get you there without issue.
Here are very specific directions:
- From Vernal, drive North on HWY 191. Less than one mile past the entrance to Steinaker State Park, watch for a dirt road on the left about mid-point in the curve of the highway.
- It is a little hard to see from the highway.
- Turn left onto this dirt road. It’s covered with gravel, but there are no signs.
- Drive 0.5 miles to the 4-way intersection and turn left from the gravel road onto a wide dirt road.
- You will see Molly’s Nipple on your right (it’s what you think it is).
- Then follow the red metal Moonshine Arch sign and veer left.
- Drive another 0.7 miles until you reach the end of the dirt road and arrive at a green gate. Park in the lot. It’s an obvious parking lot.
- Finally start the hike by hiking through the green gate.
Here are the coordinates for the Moonshine Arch trailhead: 40.551913, -109.537445
The parking lot has been updated since the satellite images were published.
The Moonshine Arch Hiking Trail
The trail starts off on what looks like a Jeep trail with several small uphill ascents and downhill descents. On occasion, the trail evolves into a few slippery rock slab ascents.
The trail is well marked and does not require backtracking or any real uncertainty when hiking.
Definitely wear good hiking shoes as the terrain is sandy, rocky, semi-steep in parts, and can be slick at times.
The Moonshine Arch trail changes terrain frequently enough to prevent a monotonous hike. You’re surrounded by uniquely shaped Juniper trees much of the way to the arch.
There are outstanding views on top of the arch at the end. But you’ll appreciate the shade under the arch first after hiking in the bright sun.
What Type Of Arch Is The Moonshine Arch?
Parts of the trail are a blend of dirt road, OHV trail and hiking trails. The closer you get to the arch, the more hiking trails you’ll follow.
There are parts that are sandy and others that are very rocky. Some of the rock is slippery when covered with a little sand. So proceed cautiously.
There’s very little shade on the trail, so use sunscreen, appropriate clothing and a hat. You’ll appreciate having all mentioned.
Conditions Of Moonshine Arch Hiking
If you’re hiking mid-day during the summer, it will be hot. Be prepared and bring plenty of water and snacks! A snack at the end of the hike in the shade of the arch is a delight!
Make sure to wear good quality hiking shoes. The different terrains and sand covered rocks offers some challenge. But I would not consider this a difficult hike.
Again, you would also be well advised to wear a hat and apply ample amounts of sunscreen. Despite it being a short hike, the sun in Utah can be intense.
Is The Moonshine Arch Hike in Utah Dangerous?
As with any hiking trail, you have to constantly watch your footing. The terrain changes quickly and can present slippery situations on the slide-rock.
Use serious caution if you are deconditioned or not accustomed to hiking in the desert. And exercise good judgement, which goes without say on any hike.
Dangerous Conditions On The Moonshine Arch Trail
As mentioned before, the incline/decline slide rock which a coating of sand is slippery. Step cautiously.
Stopping frequently to rest and drink is advised. Also, a snack for your kids (if applicable) under the arch at the end is enjoyable.
This brings us to the second dangerous aspect of this hike. The top of the arch is thin and it’s high. A mis-step could result in a fall that’s serious or fatal.
If you’re uncomfortable with heights or prone to dizziness, stay off the top. I don’t mind heights and I was still a bit leery at the top.
Is The Moonshine Arch Trail Kid Friendly?
Yes, it is. It may be challenging for younger kids, but we saw several kids who hiked the whole trail with ease. Our kids made it with zero problems.
Again, it’s crucial you bring enough water for the kids and yourself as well as a snack. Especially if your kids are younger.
And it’s advisable to stay with your kids on the top of the arch or avoid it all together if you’re uncomfortable with them in a dangerous situation.
Use your judgement wisely.
What’s The Best Time Of Day To Hike The Moonshine Arch Trail?
Early morning of early evening are great times to hike in the summer. The terrain is very light in color, which reflects sunlight well. Read that as tough on the eyes on sunny days.
So, wear sunglasses!
For the sake of safety, mid day is not the best time to hike the trail unless you are well conditioned. We did it and were fine, but really welcomed the shade of the arch at the end.
Is There A Fee To Use The Moonshine Arch Trail?
No, the hike is free to the public. Save your money for a swim at Red Fleet State park.
How Long Does The Moonshine Arch Trail Take?
The trail is a 1.5 mile (total round trip) hike. It took us about 25 minutes to make it to the arch. We then enjoyed a snack, rest and time on top for another half hour.
So, if you go to the arch and immediately turn around, budget about an hour. If you want to enjoy the arch, budget about 90 minutes for the hike.
It’s worth budgeting the additional time at the arch. It’s part of the whole pleasure.
Final Verdict For The Moonshine Arch Trail In Vernal, UT
We absolutely loved this hike for the awesome reward at the end. That is, of course the big Moonshine Arch!
So, if you find yourself in Vernal, UT and want a hike that’s off the beaten path, check out the Moonshine Arch hike. You won’t regret it!
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