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Utah’s Fiery Furnace isn’t a stroll in the park

Columns of red rock tower overhead as hikers, almost as nimble as Spider-Man, scramble over the sandstone and squeeze through narrow passages.
As the website for Arches National Park in Utah says, this is “not a casual stroll.” It’s the Fiery Furnace.
“It’s not a hike that’s for everyone,” says Jim Blazik, information specialist at park headquarters in Moab, about eight kilometres from Arches.
“There are several places where it’s very, very narrow. You don’t have a base to walk on, where your footing is basically on rock on either side of you ... where you need both hands and arms to help you through certain places.”
Despite such obstacles, the popular three-hour hike through the maze of the Fiery Furnace is considered only moderately strenuous. There are plenty of ups and downs but no big changes in elevation.
There are a few spots where hikers have to jump over cracks or move by holding themselves off the ground, pushing against the sandstone walls with their hands and feet. And some might need a hand across a couple of gaps.
Hikers can go on their own but they need a permit and must first watch a short video covering safety and resource concerns.
The best way to see the Fiery Furnace is on one of the ranger-guided hikes, offered twice each day from March through October.
But most of the trails in Arches National Park don’t require a guide. The trail to Double Arch is an easy round-trip walk along a flat, sandy trail that leads to the base of two giant arch spans joined at one end.
Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches but Blazik says it’s about more than holes in the rock.
“It is a geological park but that’s not all that’s there by any stretch of the imagination,” says Blazik.
“Sometimes just being knocked out of your socks just out of the beauty of the place is all people really care about.”

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