On a recent winter trip to Moab we decided to go look for Magic Theater Arch on Kane Springs Road at the Amesa Trail Head. At first we misinterpreted the directions to this trail and strayed down the wrong canyon. But don't worry the correct trail is directly across the street from the Amasa trail head parking lot. You will see two trails. Take the upper one that leads uphill towards the cliff wall.
From the top of a switchback climb you will start to circle around the base of cliff. You will eventually reach back of the canyon and the end of the trail for most. However, in the back of the canyon you can scramble up the rocks onto the upper shelf. This photo is of the area near the scramble point, the parking lot is just out of site. My 68 year old mother had no problem getting up to or through the scramble.
This is the gap in the canyon to get up to the top of the sandstone fins of the Behind the Rocks area. At first glance it may seem impossible to get up through the rocks but it is not really that difficult. We had no problem getting up even with snow on the trail, proving that the Magic Theater is a good Moab winter hike.
Once through the crack, you will be greeted by this lovely petroglyph panel. The panel is located about 15 feet above the ground on the left wall. Spend a few minutes admiring the panel and see if you can figure out how the artist got up there to make the etchings of the petroglyphs. Your guess is as good as mine.
Magic Theater Arch is fairly large but due to its shape it is not very camera friendly. Though it looks easy in the photo the climb was simply too steep for us to reach the arch. I figured it would be better to just take a picture from the bottom. Though motivated, this was as high as Sean could reach with winter boots on.
Though the arch was neat, we had more fun exploring the fins in the Behind the rocks area than we did viewing the arch. The fins seem to go on forever. I would really like to return on day and do more exploring. Maybe this could be turned into a loop hike by connecting with Pritchett Canyon. With snow covering many of the rocks we were forced to turn around.
This hike is named after Magic Theater Arch but the highlight of the hike is the petroglyphs along the wall near the false kiva. We missed this on the way up the canyon as we took the lower trail and had to scramble up the rocks to the gap trail to the top. If you take the upper trail you will see this rock art before you get to the arch. It is too bad some jackass tried to steel one of the goats. I mean how was he going to get behind the rock to get it off?
The rock art along this trail is some of the best that's close to Moab and it is better than any I've seen in Arches National Park. The petroglyphs are relatively free from gun shots and other defacing that are common with panels near Moab. Always look but NEVER TOUCH rock art, take only pictures.
If you are considering a Moab adventure we would recommend checking out the town homes at Moab Adventure Condo. We stayed with them and it was so nice to have room to relax and not be stuck in a cramped hotel room. Since the cost of the rental was split between two families it actually ended up being cheaper than a hotel room and much nicer. Not to mention the pool and hot tub were just sets from our condo.