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Wrather Arch is located in Wrather Canyon, a short side canyon of Paria Canyon, Arizona, a few miles south of the Utah border. It is reached by a 35-mile backpack through Paria Canyon, starting in Utah near Highway 89 and ending at Lees Ferry, Arizona (the place where boat trips start down the Grand Canyon). The arch is located a half mile up a westerly side canyon 20 miles downstream from the White House trailhead. You need to study a map or use GPS to find the right canyon.
Wrather Arch is a cave type natural arch. Pioneer arch researcher Robert H. Vreeland reported a span of 246 feet in Volume 12 of his book series, Nature's Bridges and Arches (this volume is now out of print). Therefore, this arch was listed for many years on our web page for the largest arches over 200 feet in span. In 2008, however, NABS member Craig Shelley made a new measurement that proved that the span cannot be more than 180 feet (he did not actually measure the span). Therefore, the arch was removed from the list of arches over 200 feet.
Paria Canyon is one of the premier backpacking destinations in the country due to its spectacular canyon narrows scenery. Beautiful photos of this canyon can be found in Arizona Highways for January 1978 and January 1988, and the cover photo of Hiking the Southwest's Canyon Country. About a third of the time you will be hiking through ankle-deep water, so you need appropriate footwear. When hiking through the narrows, one needs to be very cautious of the dangers of potential flash floods.
A good guidebook to this area is Michael Kelsey's Hiking and Exploring the Paria River. The entire canyon is on BLM land, and one should obtain the BLM "Hikers Guide to Paria" (which includes a map and for which there is a small charge) from the Bureau of Land Management, Kanab Area Office, 318 North 100 East, Kanab, UT 84741, phone (801) 644-2672. Permits for the hike are required from the BLM. Be certain that the weather forecast is favorable in the entire watershed for the first two days of the hike to avoid flash flood danger.
Photo by Galen Berry.