Negro Bill Canyon and Morning Glory Arch, Negro Bill Canyon Trailhead, Arches National Park, Utah

Negro Bill Canyon and Morning Glory Arch - 4.4 miles

Negro Bill Canyon Trailhead

Morning Glory Arch (GPS: N38 35.612 W109 30.519)

Morning Glory Arch (GPS: N38 35.612 W109 30.519)

Round-Trip Length: 4.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 4,012' - 4,297' (4,297' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +285' net elevation gain (+448' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Negro Bill Canyon and Morning Glory Arch - 4.4 Miles Round-Trip

The Negro Bill Canyon Trail follows tributaries of the Colorado River into a labyrinth of adjacent canyons, tracing one to a grand cul de sac where Morning Glory Arch - technically a natural land bridge - spans 243' across the terminal canyon walls.

Perennial water and a lush riparian corridor distinguish this trail from others in the Arches-Moab area. Cottonwood and willow form a partial canopy over the trail, which is heavily lined with horsetail, cacti, grasses, ivy and brush . These shaded canyons and meandering streams are a welcome reprieve from the open desert and summer heat.

The trail begins in Negro Bill Canyon, but departs down a side canyon for Morning Glory Arch after 1.85 miles. It's important to keep track of side canyons, as the second side canyon on your right is the turnoff for reaching it. While side canyons are quite obvious, it's easy to lose track and bypass the correct one.

The trail drops from the parking area along uneven rock to the creek. You'll follow the creek closely, crossing it the first time after 1.15 miles (4,080'), then many more after that.

The trail rises above the canyon floor as you come upon the first side canyon (to the right) at 1.4 miles (4,100'). Inviting, well-defined foot trails lead in, but this is not the correct canyon.

Those with time and good navigation skills may wish to explore this compelling vicinity and look for deer, coyote, mountain lion and bighorn sheep.

Travel intensifies up the canyon with frequent stream crossings. A sign that stands only 8 inches tall directs you off the main trail across the stream at 1.85 miles (4,165'). Anticipate this important but easy to miss trail marker.

Through the brush you'll see the second side canyon on your right, and path to Morning Glory Arch.

The side canyon resembles Negro Bill Canyon, but the stream flowing through it is noticeably lethargic. A well-cut path runs along the east canyon wall (rock slabs are cairn marked), then slides through a tangle of brush to the streamside and canyon terminus (2.3 miles : 4,297'). The courtyard-like cul de sac is pocked with several nooks well-suited for a lengthy respite.

Morning Glory Arch, spanning 243', is thought to be the 6th longest land bridge in the United States.

Negro Bill Canyon was named for William Granstaf, a black rancher and prospector who lived in the area in the late 1800s. After a heated dispute in 1979 between locals, the BLM and Federal Government, the canyon was officially designated a Wilderness Study Area. This designation essentially ended a campaign by Grand County residents to open the canyon to uses that were deemed harmful to the environment. The controversy was known as the 'Sagebrush Rebellion'.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 36.589 W109 32.011 — Negro Bill Canyon Trailhead
  • N38 36.025 W109 31.544 — Negro Bill Canyon Trail (1.0 mile mark)
  • N38 35.847 W109 31.382 — First side canyon on right (1.4 miles) - do not enter
  • N38 35.865 W109 30.822 — Morning Glory Arch Junction (1.85 miles) - cross stream
  • N38 35.885 W109 31.006 — Morning Glory Arch canyon travel mark #1
  • N38 35.804 W109 30.671 — Morning Glory Arch canyon travel mark #2
  • N38 35.637 W109 30.533 — Morning Glory Arch

Worth Noting

  • Poison Ivy grows all along the streamside. Be aware of the plant and watch your step.

  • Stream crossings are safe, but you may get a bit wet during spring runoff or after recent storms.

  • Once in the side canyon leading to Morning Glory Arch, stay on the existing path and do not deviate. While markings are fairly good, it's possible to wander off and make the trip more difficult than necessary.

Directions to Trailhead

Negro Bill Canyon is easily missed. From Moab: From its junction with U.S. 191, drive 3 miles east on Utah Scenic Byway 128 and look for the trailhead on the right hand side.

Contact Information

Arches National Park
PO Box 907
Moab, Utah 84532-0907
Headquarters Phone: 435-719-2100
Fax: 435-719-2305
Phone: 435-719-2299 (recorded information)
Camping Reservation Line: 877-444-6777

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"dogs are allowed on the Negro Bill trail thanks"
todd  -  moab  -  Date Posted: July 10, 2012


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