|The Needles District
Druid Arch is the most tower-like of the arches listed here, and is the most technically challenging. It is a majestic arch with a commanding view from the summit.
The route follows the obvious crack system on the left hand side of the arch when viewed from the trail. The first pitch followed a very nice crack to a nice ledge. Pitch 2 climbed up the face and to the right to another nice ledge. The third pitch followed the slightly overhanging dihedral through a short roof and diagonals up and to the right. The crack ends and one traversed on huecos and face holds to just below the summit saddle. Anchors were up there that allowed a return to the nice ledge.
It is relatively easy to reach compared to the other Needles District arches, and this means that the potential for tourist traffic is substantially increased. It is a popular day-hike destination and rightly so for it is the most striking landmark for miles. It is reached by driving to the base of Elephant Hill and finding the trailhead there leading to Chessler Park and Elephant Canyon. Druid Arch is located at the southern end of Elephant Canyon. It is about a 5.4 mile (9 km) hike to the arch over slickrock, sand flats and a dry creek bed; follow the cairns. There are a couple of backcountry campsites lower in the canyon (with permit); the NPS does not allow camping in the Druid Arch corridor. The route is located on the east side of the arch's south leg.
It's interesting to note that when Midkiff soloed this on the FA, he removed the springs from his Gibbs ascenders so that they would slide on the rope both ways. This resulted in a big whipper at one point. Kicking off the wall as he fell engaged the cam and halted the plummet. Yikes.
The view from the top of the second pitch, with th...