Royal Arch, Chautauqua Park Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Royal Arch - 3.2 miles

Chautauqua Park Trailhead

Royal Arch

Royal Arch

Round-Trip Length: 3.2 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,710' - 6,915' (6,915' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,205' net elevation gain (+1,417' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Royal Arch - 3.2 Miles Round-Trip

Royal Arch (6,915') is perched high along a rugged fold in the Boulder Flatirons. These rocks are remnants of the Fountain Formation, a mineral-rich sand eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountain uplift 300 M years ago. Trail Map | Photo Gallery

Sediments deposited by the ebb and flow of inland oceans compressed this layer into sandstone, thrust upward 45 M years ago by the same tectonic forces that created our modern Rocky Mountains.

Royal Arch is a fragment of the exposed Fountain Formation sculpted by water, wind and mechanical erosion into the 20' span we see today.

The following describes the most direct route to Royal Arch, which begins at the Chautauqua Park Ranger Station and climbs Bluebell Road to access the Royal Arch Trail:

Bluebell Road rises steadily over Chautauqua Park past the Mesa Trail junction (.6 miles : 6,005') and Bluebell Shelter to the Royal Arch Trail (.7 miles : 6,095').

The Royal Arch Trail narrows through mixed pine to a connection for Flatiron #2 and #3, and bends south up a steep, narrow gulch (.9 miles : 6,188'). Note apple, plum and maple in this diverse riparian corridor.

The trail steepens away from the upper-gulch up to Sentinel Pass (1.35 miles : 6,768'), a rocky notch at the top of Bluebell Canyon. Enjoy close-up cross-sections of the Flatiron rocks from this point.

It drops from Sentinel pass about 100' and resumes a strenuous, twisting climb over the steady trickle of Tangen Spring to the base of Royal Arch (1.6 miles : 6,915'). Walk under Royal Arch to a set of outcrops with sweeping views across the foothills, eastern plains and downtown Denver.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N39 59.930 W105 16.970 — 0.0 miles : Chautauqua Park Trailhead
  • N39 59.496 W105 17.119 — .6 miles : Mesa Trail split - keep right on Bluebell Rd
  • N39 59.465 W105 17.247 — .7 miles : Begin Royal Arch Trail
  • N39 59.357 W105 17.319 — .9 miles : Flatirons #2 and #3 spur
  • N39 59.139 W105 17.507 — 1.2 miles : Break away from gulch, climb steepens
  • N39 59.068 W105 17.489 — 1.35 miles : Sentinel Pass
  • N39 58.923 W105 17.504 — 1.6 miles : Royal Arch

Worth Noting

  • The Bluebell Shelter was constructed in 1921 by the local Lions Club. The stone wall, hike-in only structure is available for group picnics and activities, and accommodates up to 50 people.

  • The Royal Arch Trail is a great place to observe climbers on the Flatirons.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be on a hand-held leash unless they meet Voice and Sight Control Standards and display a City of Boulder Voice and Sight Tag.

  • Camping is not allowed in Chautauqua Park. Day use only.

Directions to Trailhead

From Boulder Take Baseline Road west past 9th street and Chautauqua Park is on the left hand side. Turn left into Chautauqua Park. Overflow parking is also available along Baseline Road, south of the park entrance.

From Denver: Take I-25 North to Highway 36 towards Boulder. From Highway 36, take the Baseline Road exit and turn left. Take Baseline Road west past 9th street and Chautauqua Park is on the left hand side. Turn left into Chautauqua Park. Overflow parking is also available along Baseline Road, south of the park entrance.

Contact Information

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
Phone: 303.441.3440


"Spent summers in Boulder for years. My father will be 91 in Oct. He made his first hike to the Royal Arch at 10 yrs old and wanted to do it one last time at 90. He made it today in 3 hrs. The trail is very rocky, not to mention going up rock slides. Last time he hiked there he was at 84. Don't remember so many rocks on the trail. Coming down off the trail was a little more treacherous, but he made it. Started at 7:15am and ended at 2:15pm. The hike energized him. "
Terry Bell  -  Houston, Tx  -  Date Posted: July 6, 2017
"This was my first hike so I was a little worried. The hike was great. I had a lot of fun hiking and running up the steep rocks. It was mostly shady which was nice. Went early in the morning around 8:45am and avoided the crowds. Very nice view at the top overlooking the entire city of Boulder. The royal arch at the end is super cool as well. Awesome natural rock formation that is balancing perfect on one another. I didn't find it too difficult for my first hike. I'd definitely recommend to a beginner but you should be in decent shape."
David Friedman  -  Denver  -  Date Posted: August 9, 2015
"From what I heard, this trail had recently reopened once the flood damage had been taken care of. We completed this hike on a very cloudy, cool but humid day. And this hike was tough for us! We took plenty of rest stops and had a lot of water to drink which helped us through. The trail is gorgeous but be prepared for a rocky uphill climb for most the trail. Once we reached the Royal Arch, we found a spot to rest at and enjoyed an amazing view of Boulder through the clouds! Hiking down was just a strenuous as going up but the hike was worth all the soreness we had the next day. I would recommend this trail if you feel up for a challenge!"
Anika T.  -  Minnesota  -  Date Posted: July 16, 2015
"Wonderful trail...was a great work out...saw lots of dogs not on leashes...and didn't note any tags on any .but all were well behaved and voice controlled"
DeAnn  -  Loveland  -  Date Posted: November 10, 2014
"Did Flat Irons 1 and 2. Very good day hikes with good shade on trials on way up. Many hikers on trial and families enjoying. Royal Arches was closed but there is soooooo much else to do and enjoy. Very friendly staff at base hut. did several other trials on way down."
Dave C  -  From NJ  -  Date Posted: June 17, 2014
"This trail is currently closed due to flood damage."
Brian Jump  -  Denver, CO  -  Date Posted: April 26, 2014


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