Fisher Towers Trail
Distance: 4.2 miles (round trip)
Walking time: 2 1/2 hours
Elevations: 650 ft. gain/loss
• Fisher Towers Trailhead (start): 4,740 ft.
• viewpoint: 5,390 ft.
Trail: Popular, easy to follow trail
Season: Spring, summer, fall, winter. There may be some snow on the trail during the winter months. This area is very hot in the summer months and there is no water, so be sure to carry some. For current conditions call the Grand Resource Area, Bureau of Land Management, in Moab at (801) 259-6111.
Vicinity: Near Moab
Few of natures geologic creations are more bizarre to look at than Utah’s Fisher Towers. About a dozen of the strange monoliths stand near the Colorado River east of Moab, grouped together like petrified skyscrapers from some prehistoric city. The brick-red sandstone skyscrapers rise abruptly from the desert floor, while a network of gullies and canyons form the city’s avenues and boulevards below. The residents of this weird metropolis are an endless collection of goblins and gargoyles frozen in the canyon walls beneath the towers.
The Fisher Towers have long been objects of fascination among rock climbers, and on holidays and weekends you are likely to see a few of the human spiders here. The trail passes by the bases of a half dozen of the sandstone monoliths, including the 900-foot Titan, and finally ends on the crest of a ridge commanding a spectacular view of the Towers. If you are interested in photographing them try to be at the viewpoint about half an hour before sunset, when the low western sun inflames the spires’ reddish hue and striates them with deep shadows.
The Titan, largest of the Fisher Towers, remained unclimbed until the 1960s when a team of three Colorado climbers, sponsored by the National Geographic Society, made an assent to the top. On his impressions at the top of the 900-foot pinnacle, team member Huntley Ingalls wrote:
“It was a strange, awesomely isolated place, a flat, rough area of bare orange sandstone about 70 feet long and 40 feet wide. Its boundary was the free air. It overhung the body of the tower below it, which plunged in rippling bulges and converging fluted ribs to the distant desert floor.” (National Geographic Magazine, November, 1962)
From the campground the trail first drops down to cross a small dry wash, and then winds its way back to the Towers. For the next two miles it proceeds in a general southerly direction along the tower bases, meandering in and out of a succession of arroyos, but never straying far from the Towers. The entire length of the trail is decorated with an enormous variety of rock art, sculpted by the wind and the rain from the soft red sandstone, and it is in large part this spectacle that makes the hike so delightful.
The last major tower on the route is the Titan, which the trail passes after about 1.5 miles. After passing the Titan the path veers southwest onto a long ridge from which you will be rewarded with a majestic view of the Towers. The most common assent route up the Titan is on the south side, the side nearest to the viewpoint.
The ridge at the end of the trail also offers a fine view of Castle Rock and the Priest and Nuns, about six miles to the southwest. Confusingly, there is also another formation which the USGS Fisher Tower map calls Titan Tower about 1.2 miles northeast of the viewpoint. The tower that most locals know as the Titan, however, and the one scaled by the National Geographic team is the one near the trail.