Arches National Park is 4 miles outside the small town of Moab, Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches and offers a variety of things to see, do and photograph! In this post we’ll share when is the best time to visit, where to stay, and points of interest including the best arches national park hikes to get you out and exploring the park. And with walks, hikes and drives ranging from 30 mins to a few hours, they’ll be something to suit everybody!
Arches National Park Hikes & Points of Interest
A Guest Post by Jamie Joyner of Photo Jeepers
Arches Scenic Drive
The main scenic drive is a total of 43 miles and includes all spurs. Plan 2 to 3 hours to complete the drive. Add more time if you want to do any long hikes or serious photography. Most arches and landmarks can be seen from the parking lots and pullouts or a short walk.
The most ideal times for Arches National Park photography and hiking are early or late in the day. The rock formations are more vibrant, there are fewer people, and you avoid the hottest part of the day.
A short, easy loop hike of 0.3 mile round trip takes you up to, and around, Balanced Rock.
Delicate Arch is always a must-see for most visitors since it is one of the most famous features in the world. This is one of the few landmarks you cannot see from the main road. There are a few ways to see this arch. The Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint is a 100-yard level path to where you can see the arch one mile away. The Upper Viewpoint requires walking one half mile and climbing some rock stairs.
The trail to see the arch up close is 3 miles roundtrip and climbs 480 feet in elevation. Before hiking this trail, consider the difficulty, the weather and your own fitness level.
Since Delicate Arch is a popular destination for tourists and photographers, be prepared for hundreds of people and photographers lined up for photos under the arch, or along the bowl waiting to capture photos at sunset.
Explore the narrow canyons and maze-like fins in the Fiery Furnace with a 3-hour, ranger-led hike. Advance reservations are necessary. The tour requires climbing over boulders, walking through sand, and navigating trails between rocks and along narrow ledges. If that sounds too adventurous, take the short walk to the viewpoint to see the fins and spires.
A short 2 mile round trip walk along the Devil’s Garden Trail takes you to Landscape Arch. It is longer than a football field. The thinnest part of the arch is 8 feet thick. Pieces of rock have been falling from the underside which means it may just be a matter of time before this enormous arch collapses.
Devil’s Garden Trail
The Devil’s Garden Trail is 7.2 miles round trip and travels through the largest concentration of significant arches in the world. Most tourists will walk the first 1 mile and take the short spur trails to see Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch before coming to Landscape Arch. After this point the trail includes climbing up narrow slickrock fins with steep drop-offs to see Navajo Arch, Partition Arch and Double O Arch.
The Windows Area
The Windows area is easily accessible and very popular due to the easy trails around each landmark: The North and South Window, Turret Arch and Double Arch. Arrive early if you want photos of the arches without people.
Sand Dune Arch
The easy hike between large fins takes you to Sand Dune Arch. At certain times of the day, this is one place in the park that provides shade and cool sand. There are many areas to explore, play and hide, but remember climbing on top of arches is against park policy.
Arches National Park is considered a Dark Sky Park. Be sure to stay in the park after dark and see a sky brimming with stars!
When To Visit Arches National Park
Winter is the best season to go since visitors flood the park from spring through fall. If you must visit Arches during the summer, please practice patience and courtesy as lines into the park will be long and parking lots and trails will be crowded with people.
Arches is an arid high desert landscape where the nights are cool and the days are warm to hot. The area features extreme elevation and temperature changes, sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. The summer temperatures can average 105 degrees!
Be prepared for the desert and elevation by staying hydrated, wearing layers and protecting yourself from the sun with hats or sunscreen.
Where To Stay for Arches National Park
Although Arches National Park has no restaurants or lodges within the grounds, there is a 50 Site Campground at Devil’s Garden which is available on a first come first served basis between November and February, and sites can be booked March through October. There are also two group camp sites that can accommodate between 11-55 people.
*NOTE: Devils Campground is closed through to 30 November 2017*
If you’re looking for campgrounds in the surrounding area – DiscoverMoab have a great list, however they note that all campsites DO NOT accept reservations. If you want to guarantee yourself a site – get there early!
If you’re not much of camper, there are also lots of hotels and cabins in the Moab area – here are our top picks for each of our standard price brackets:
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That’s a wrap folks! I hope you enjoyed our Arches National Park Hikes & Travel Guide article and you’re all set for your next Arches National Park adventure.
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