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Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail - R1



6.1 mile 9.9 kilometer point to point
88% Runnable


Ascent: 1,335' 407 m
Descent: -739' -225 m
High: 5,715' 1,742 m
Low: 4,619' 1,408 m


Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 60% (31°)


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Map Key

Trail shared by Andrew Walters

A tour of the second greatest concentration of Arches outside of Utah with a 3rd/4th class scramble.

Andrew Walters

Features Cave · Views · Wildlife

Backcountry camping restrictions from the BLM - "NOTE: Overnight camping is prohibited in and around the arches, along the cherry stem road (last 1.5 miles of access road), and the parking area at the trailhead. Use of firepans and/or stoves may be prohibited during high fire danger periods." Check with the BLM regarding fire restrictions if you plan on camping out.

Runner Notes

If you decide to complete the loop, be sure you are comfortable climbing steep sandstone slabs as there is serious fall potential on the scramble through the final arch. It is very easy to see all of the arches and backtrack to avoid the scramble (backtracking adds ~1 mile).

Bring plenty of water as there are zero reliable sources and no water at the trailhead. Avoid this trail if rain is imminent. Flash floods and sticky mud are inevitable in wet conditions.


Starting from the Pollock Bench Trailhead, follow signage for the trail Pollock Bench Trail - P1 as it climbs up out of the parking lot. Around 1.5 miles, there will be a junction, stay right heading for Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail - R1.

There will be a junction at mile 1.8 for horses, but continue to the next junction to join the Rattlesnake Canyon Arches Trail - R1 most directly. Once on the main trail, it is well marked with sign posts, cairns and a well worn track as it weaves in and out of washes, and over sandstone slickrock.

After a long and loose climb up to the beginning of the long traverse, around mile 6, you'll come to a junction with the Upper Rattlesnake Arches Trail. Go right cruising over flat ground as you head to the end of the route on the final sandstone cliff formation. When you round the final corner, start looking up and left to see the arches. You'll pass by a number of smaller arches, finally arriving at Rattlesnake Arch (the main event). Continue another quarter of a mile to the final arch (Cedar Arch). Here there will be a sign indicating you have reached the end of the trail. You can either turn around here, or scramble through the arch via some steep chopped steps (Class 3/4) and join the Upper Rattlesnake Arches Trail.

If you choose to scramble, go through the arch and head right to get on a doubletrack trail. At the first junction you reach, head left and down off the top of the mesa back to the trail you came up earlier. Retrace your steps all the way back to the junction with the P1 - Pollock Bench Trail. Either follow your steps back to the car for the most direct route, or take a right to join the P1 - Pollock Bench Trail, either way you'll eventually end up back at the first junction of the day - take a right to retrace the final 1.6 miles back to your car.

Flora & Fauna

Lots of standard high-desert pinyon-juniper ecology and prime mountain lion terrain.

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Jun 3, 2018
Aimee Crittendon

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in Colorado


166 Views Last Month
4,640 Since Jul 17, 2015



Cedar arch (or First Arch). The scramble goes up the middle.
Nov 1, 2015 near Loma, CO
Rattlesnake Arch
Nov 1, 2015 near Loma, CO
Span from above
Nov 20, 2015 near Loma, CO
Rattlesnake Canyon
Nov 1, 2015 near Loma, CO
Looking up at the final arch and the 4th class scramble route (contour from right to left until you reach the chopped steps and then head up through the arch).
Jul 17, 2015 near Loma, CO
Rattlesnake Arches.
Oct 6, 2015 near Loma, CO


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