Photograph of Colorado Mountain Range
OHV Storm_King Roan Drill_Rig Kayak
BLM>Colorado>Field Offices>Colorado River Valley Field Office>Recreation>Rifle Arch
Print Page
Rifle Arch

Hiking to the Arch

Entrance to the Rifle Arch Trail

Looking through the Arch

Flower on the Rifle Arch trail

Download A Trail description

Map (comming Soon)


Length: About 1.5 miles; allow between one and three hours for the hike

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate

Elevation: About 520 feet elevation gain

Use: Moderate

Recommended Season: All seasons
Maps: 1:100,000 Glenwood Springs Map
Highlights: This arch is 60 feet high and 150 feet wide and was formed by wind, water and erosion. It is located on the sandstone formations of the Grand Hogback. The forces that created the Grand Hogback pushed a sandstone layer up to a steep pitch. Water then ran through the fracture lines, creating fissures. Once the fissures were wide enough, the wind went to work on them, widening them more. Freezing and thawing also played a role in creating this formation. The arch is unique because it stands alone. Caution: There is private property west of the trail. Please do not bother the residents and stay out of the private property.
The trail meanders across sagebrush flats before winding up a hill. It then connects with an old road or jeep trail, and there are trail markers along the way. Take a good look when the trail joins the road, so you can find it when you return. The trail winds down the roadway and across a ditch before starting back uphill. The last stretch of the trail is through a pinyon and juniper forest. Enjoy the shade of the woods and just keep moving toward the hogback. You will have spotted the arch long before this time and can use it as your guide. The trail ends at a bench, or you can clamber over rocks right up into the arch.
Keep an eye out for spring flowers and cactus blooms in April and May. On warm days, look for playful little lizards, which dart about on the stumps and rocks. Down in the gully to your right, listen for the sound of running spring water. Enjoy the spectacular views of the Colorado River valley and the battlements.
Access: Take Highway 13 north of Rifle to mile marker 7. There is a parking area on the right and a gate with a Boy Scout sign that marks the trailhead.
Safety Concerns: This can be an extremely hot hike in the summer or early fall, so come prepared with water and maybe a snack for when you reach the arch. Wear good hiking boots or shoes and use plenty of sunscreen. Be sure to pack out your trash and leave everything the way you found it.