FKT: Justin Watkins - Devil’s Garden, Arches NP (UT) - 2020-10-20

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1h 10m 51s

Huge credit and kudos to original route poster & FKT holder Lapo Mori. Thanks Lapo for showcasing the adventure in these Utah Ntl Park trails! 

Route summary: this beautiful loop is a speedy showcase of Arches' best trails. You will run between towering rock fins, blast through red sand, scramble on slickrock, and run skyline ridges overlooking Utah. All in 7.8 miles. A true gem!

Warning: this route is super popular and gets PACKED early! When I arrived at 8am on Tuesday the lot was 2/3's full and filling. By 10:30am they were halting cars from entering the lot and there was a line at the entry gates. The crowd includes families and seniors and casual hikers, none of which expect a runner going for a record. Please be courteous, please start early, and avoid spooking hikers as much as possible. Remember that we are ambassadors of this sport, and one runner represents us all!

My FKT attempt at Devil's Garden in Arches Ntl Park was not the smoothest of starts. I arrived/started/ran etc all unsupported and alone. I started late and caught the crowds in the Mile 1 bottleneck/lollipop stem. Once I saw the people stacking up I personally got anxious about today's success and started red-lining the first 2 miles to get out and get a headstart on the FKT time. Pro-tip: never redline. =( Pushing so hard on the ups and the early sections was unnecessary, I ended up breathing heavily and feeling behind most of the run.

Route direction: Counterclockwise. The direction matters people! In this direction, you generally climb up on the sandy "primitive trail" sections (think beach sand running) in Miles 2-4 and then bomb down large slickrock ridgelines around Mile 6. 

Route checkpoints hit, in order: Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Private Arch, Dark Angel, Double O Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, Landscape Arch.

Route has minimal shade (despite being tucked under rock fins...) and has no water. I ran with 2L but barely drank any due to the mandatory speed. 

The runs highlight has to be the ridgeline slickrock runs around Mile 4-6. For a bit you feel like Indiana Jones running across some ancient skyline. The footing on these rocks is great so you can book it along the ridge without fear of falling. 

Another highlight: due to the loop nature and the out-and-back-sightseeing nature of the run, you'll cross paths with many fellow hikers repetitively. Some will cheer and catch on that you're going seriously fast. You may get a few ooo's/aaa's/wtf's as you run the slickrock. It's a morale boost! Also, if something goes wrong here, there will be millions of hikers to help fireman-line your body out from the rocks. 

Around Mile 6 there's a steep slickrock rampdown. I ran it for the adrenaline rush, but errr maybe not advised. Make sure your shoes have solid tack/grip or you'll slide to a broken bone for sure. =(



All in all, one hell of a run, and definitely an aerobic FKT. Give it a go!