Trail Exploration: The Rifle Arch |

Trail Exploration: The Rifle Arch

Located a little ways north of downtown Rifle on Colorado Highway 13 is the trailhead to one of the hottest trails of the summer.

The coveted Rifle Arch trail in the midsummer months is not only hot in temperature but is also hot in popularity.

The trail is designated for only hikers and dogs on a leash, with the Grand Hogback trail system surrounding the hiking trail. The hike is moderate in difficulty with the trail being groomed free of most large rocks and obstacles.

On the way up to the arch the trail gains approximately 700 feet in a little under a mile and a half but there is no particular section that is overly steep or challenging. The trail ends with a perfect photo opportunity of the Rifle Arch towering above you in the background. Anyone wanting to get a closer look at the 150 feet wide arch can scramble up some rocks to stand directly under it, but the trail starts to disappear near a park bench in front of the arch.

Besides getting a good look at the arch, my favorite part of the trail was looking out at the spanning desert valley from the mesa the trail occupies. The only downside of the trail is that it does not offer any cover from the shade, and the trail tends to warm up quite fast if there is no cloud cover. Even by mid-morning the trail was quite warm.

The desert landscape and the surrounding valley.
Cody Jones / Post Independent

With the hike lasting no longer than an hour, this hike is perfect for anyone looking to get outside to enjoy nature before it gets blisteringly hot or for anyone visiting the area looking to experience some of Rifle’s natural features.The trailhead also offers the opportunity for mountain biking, trail running and horseback riding on trails nearby to the Rifle Arch trail.

Trail Facts

How to get there: From Glenwood Springs, take Interstate 70 to Rifle and then head north on Colorado Highway 13. When the road branches at Colorado Highway 325, stay left on Highway 13. About 3 miles after the split there will be a parking lot located on the right side of the road.

Length: 2.8 miles, out and back.

Highlights: View of Rifle Arch and surrounding valley.

Help us highlight our trails

This is a weekly series on hikes and bike rides throughout Garfield County that are easily accessible and can be done in roughly an hour or less. Have a trail you think we should highlight? Email reporting intern Cody Jones at

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