Hiking the Grandstaff Trail to Morning Glory Arch

March 27, 2018

Our family has been trying for years to finish the Grandstaff Trail near Moab, Utah. There was always something stopping us. Once we went rather spontaneously, and then we discovered we didn’t have enough water to finish the trip. A couple times we took our dog, who just wasn’t physically able to finish it. And one time our daughter fell into the water, got her pants wet, was mad, and didn’t want to hike any further.

We were even trying to finish it back when it had the unfortunate name of Negro Bill Canyon Trail. The trail is now more appropriately named after the African-American prospector named William Grandstaff who grazed livestock here in the late 19th century.

So this year our kids decided that we needed to get to the end of this out-and-back trail to see the prize at the end, the Morning Glory Arch. We felt a little bad going without our dog, Roxy, who loves to go on hikes but is too old to hike that far. Read on to see how we made sure a part of her made it to the end, too.

This post should not serve as a trail guide, but I hope it lures you into wanting to hike the trail!

(You can read about our week-long trip to Moab, Utah in this post.)

Why hike the Grandstaff Trail?

The Grandstaff trail is a 4.6 mile round-trip out-and-back hike. It is a moderately challenging hike on the grand scheme of things. We are not in super fit condition, and we were able to do it with plenty of water. I will say that it was probably only 67 degrees F, and we were really hot. I can’t imagine trying this (or any) hike in Moab in the summer!

The trail has a lot of great features:

  • It is dog friendly, so you can bring your pooch or hang out with all the other dogs you’ll see on the trail.
  • There are a lot of fairly safe creek crossings. We counted 11 of them one way. It makes the hike challenging and fun, especially for kids.
  • There is some shade. Not a ton of shade, but when you’re in the desert, you’ll take it. There was a lot of shade under Morning Glory Arch.


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Where is the Grandstaff Trail?

The trailhead is located three miles east of Highway 191 on Utah Scenic Byway 128, just over 5 miles northeast of Moab.

Scenes from the Hike

Below are some scenes from the hike. It’s a beautiful, fun adventure!

Morning Glory Arch

And the prize at the end? Morning Glory Arch was, well, glorious. You get to go right up under it, which is very cool. It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch.

Oh, and how did we make sure a bit of Roxy made it to Morning Glory Arch? Well, she was on our minds and hearts the whole way. And we plucked dog hairs off of our gear and left them under the arch. 🙂


  • Reply
    April 12, 2018 at 8:59 am

    I’m adding this to my hiking bucket list! Love the pictures you shared????

    • Reply
      April 12, 2018 at 9:06 am

      It’s a great hike, very popular but not in the national parks. My cousin and his wife just went to Moab, and this was their favorite hike, too. My pictures don’t do it justice. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 12, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    This is now on our “Moab” list!
    One of our twins would have got mad at getting wet too:) Glad to hear I’m not alone

    • Reply
      April 12, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      It’s an awesome hike! So scenic and fun. She ended up getting wet on this trip too, but she didn’t whine about it this time. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 24, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    This is a great hike, I highly recommend it too. A word of caution, poison ivy is taking over many of the canyons around Moab. If you’re allergic, like me, be hyper aware of the surrounding foliage and be prepared for rash first aid. I grew up in Moab and to beat the heat during the hottest months we did our hiking before 10:am or after 4:pm. The author makes an excellent point in stating they did not even try to finish the hike with insufficient water. Desert safety requires you drink more water than many people are used to consuming. The basic recommended amount is one gallon per person per day, and that doesn’t necessarily include what you need for activities like hiking.. Gearheads on Main just south of City Market has a free filtered water station, so byob and stay hydrated! My favorite hike growing up was Delicate arch two nights before the full moon. Start at the trailhead around 4:00 and you can watch the moon rise behind the arch with plenty of evening light to hike back down safely. Finish up with all you can eat pizza at Zax and you’ll have a day to remember!

    • Reply
      April 24, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      How lucky to grow up in such a beautiful place! My husband would love to move there, but I think the real estate prices have gotten a little crazy now that people have discovered it.

      Yes, we noticed the warnings about poison ivy and tried to be very careful. (Scary if you’re allergic!) The Delicate Arch hike is great…I’d love to see it at sunset! And we loved the food at Zax! 🙂

  • Reply
    Deepika Malani
    April 29, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Love those pictures! We’d done Arches national park a few years ago, this post brought back some memories. Though we didn’t particularly hike, but perhaps next on my list now 🙂

    • Reply
      April 29, 2018 at 11:48 am

      This is a really lovely hike! I’m not so into the “physical exertion” part of hiking, but I do love the views. 😉

  • Reply
    Shreya Saha
    April 30, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Wow, I was never aware of Grandstaff Trail before. The pictures are great and I really loved the content. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      April 30, 2018 at 6:23 am

      It’s a hidden gem. We love it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Becca Talbot
    April 30, 2018 at 2:25 am

    I love how you made sure Roxy (sorta) finished the trail with you – even though she couldn’t be there in person! Your family is so cute ☺ x

    • Reply
      April 30, 2018 at 6:23 am

      Thanks! Roxy is family, too. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 30, 2018 at 8:44 am

    I’m a complete newbie when it comes to hiking, but I’d love to try this one. The name Morning Glory Arch is one I won’t forget either!

    • Reply
      April 30, 2018 at 9:00 am


  • Reply
    Alexander Popkov
    April 30, 2018 at 10:43 am

    The place looks quite surreal to me. I am quite used to hikes in green national parks. in Finland. These orange mountains are very different from what I am used to see.

    • Reply
      April 30, 2018 at 11:27 am

      The desert really is a different scene, for sure. But it’s absolutely beautiful in this area….red rocks, big canyons and valleys, arches. Just amazing.

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    May 2, 2018 at 3:02 am

    So nice to go on a hike with your entire family (sorry that you couldn’t bring your dog along though). I am glad you finally made it after having faced challenges so many times previously. The hike does seem a little strenuous for someone who is not in a great shape (like me) but the scenes are lovely! The morning glory arch is lovely, totally worth the hike.

    • Reply
      May 2, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      I am not in super good shape, but I definitely survived. There are some challenging spots on the trail, and the length is certainly challenging. Luckily there is some shady places to rest, especially under the arch. 🙂

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