Take an easy hike through a gorgeous canyon in Moab, Utah to the stunning Morning Glory Arch.

This natural arch, located within Grandstaff Canyon, is reached by the Grandstaff Trail. This is one of our favorite trails in Moab.

The Morning Glory Arch

Morning Glory Arch is one of the largest natural arches in the Moab area, with a span that stretches over 243 feet. It is the sixth longest natural rock span in the United States. (The second longest arch is the Kolob Arch in Zion National Park. We also did the longer 14-15 mile hike along the La Verkin Creek Trail to see the Kolob Arch.)

Morning Glory Arch in Moab
Morning Glory Arch in Moab

This arch has a one-of-a-kind shape that looks beautiful against the desert sky.

This arch has been shaped by hundreds of years of erosion. The colors at sunrise and sunset change based on the lighting. The sunlight turns the sandstone bright orange, red, and adds cool shadows over the curved rock.

Hiking the Grandstaff Trail to the Morning Glory Arch

Grandstaff Trailhead

To reach Morning Glory Arch, take the Grandstaff Trail. It is a relatively easy hike that meanders through the very photogenic Grandstaff Canyon.

Grandstaff trailhead sign in moab
Grandstaff trailhead sign in Moab

The Grandstaff Trail, overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is situated in an area distinct from Arches National Park. While it is close to the park, it lies on the opposite side of the Colorado River. (The map below provides the location of the trailhead.)

We camped about a mile and a half from here at the Goose Island Campground, which was an amazing place to wake up each day. This BLM campground is right on the Colorado River and backs up to Arches National Park. The photo below is of our Airstream when we camped there with the background of the cliffs of Arches National Park behind us.

Airstream at Goose Island Campground
Airstream at Goose Island Campground

Read more camping at the Goose Island Campground as well as a few other RV park and campground options.

What to Expect on the Grandstaff Trail

The Grandstaff Trail is about 4.5 miles round trip, and it goes along a stream in the canyon. It’s a nice change from the desert scene with green plants and huge sandstone canyon walls.

Morning Glory Bridge sign at beginning of trail

The hike starts off easy, winding up through a tight canyon. When you get closer to the Morning Glory Arch, about 2 1/4 miles in, you’ll cross a few wooden bridges, do a bit of climbing over rocks, and cross a few streams.

Grandstaff trail in the snow
Grandstaff Trail in the snow
Grandstaff canyon stream
River running through Grandstaff canyon along hike

The trail is easy to follow and not difficult. Be sure to wear good shoes (no flip flops!) and bring lots of water, especially when it’s hot out. You can even fill up with natural spring water at the Matrimony Springs which is located just down the road on the way to Moab.

Dog in Utah canyon in Moab
Hiking with our dog along Grandstaff trail
Stream running through Grandstaff canyon
Stream running through Grandstaff canyon
Cactuses covered with snow in Grandstaff canyon in utah
Cactuses covered in snow along the Grandstaff trail

The History of the Grandstaff Trail

Grandstaff trail along a stream in the utah canyon
Grandstaff Trail along a stream in the canyon

Originally known as Negro Bill Canyon, the trail was renamed in 2017 to honor William Grandstaff, a mixed-race cowboy and prospector who settled in the canyon in the late 19th century.

William Grandstaff history sign
William Grandstaff historical sign

Grandstaff, of African American and Native American heritage, ran cattle in the canyon and lived in Moab until he left the area in 1881.

The renaming of the trail to Grandstaff Trail was part of a broader effort to recognize the contributions of individuals of all backgrounds to the history of the American West. It was also to move away from names that could be considered derogatory.

Hike to Morning Glory Arch via Grandstaff Trail in Moab
Hiking along the Grandstaff Trail in the snow

This change is to help show appreciation for the different people that have helped shape the Moab area.

Hiker crossing a stream on Grandstaff trail
One of several stream crossings on the hike to Morning Glory Arch
Grandstaff trail in the snow on the way to Morning Glory Arch
View of the hike to Morning Glory Arch in the snow

Scenery along the Grandstaff Trail to Morning Glory Arch

This trail has beautiful Utah scenery as you go through a canyon to get to the Morning Glory arch at the end of the trail.

Canyon trail to morning glory bridge in moab
Grandstaff trail in Moab
canyon hiking to morning glory bridge on grandstaff trail
Grandstaff trail hike scenery on way to Morning Glory Arch

The out and back trail is about 5.7 miles long and has some gorgeous views along the way. Don’t forget your camera! We highly recommend this hike.

Creek running through utah canyon in moab on grandstaff trail
Crossing water along the hike in the canyon

The cottonwood trees along the trail provide shade. This is a welcome cool break from the desert sun.

Best Time to Visit

The trail is accessible year-round. However, the best time to hike to Morning Glory Arch is during the spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler. Summer months can be extremely hot, so if you plan to hike in the summer, go early in the day.

Prickly cactuses covered in snow

We hiked the Grandstaff trail in October, and it was chilly. There was even snow on the ground covering cactuses. If you bring a dog, like we did, be careful to make sure your dog doesn’t step on the cactuses. Dogs not familiar with this terrain could get badly injured as the cactuses are no joke.

Morning Glory Arch Final Thoughts

Morning Glory Arch is a fabulous hiking destination in Moab. It is easy to drive to, an easy hike, and ends with a rewarding view of the beautiful Morning Glory Arch.

Morning Glory Arch approach
View on the hike as you approach the Morning Glory Arch

The last bit goes up a little before showing off the amazing view of Morning Glory Arch.