Guide To Arches National Park: Things To Do + Tips For Visiting

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When it comes to natural beauties that blow your mind, Utah is never short of them, and possibly some of the most mind- blowing sites of character can be found in Arches National Park.
Famous for having the highest concentration of natural stone bridges in the world (2, 000 to be exact ), this national park is full of incredible places to see, as well as amazing excursions, scenic drive items, warrior activities for kids, and much more.
Needless to say, Arches National Park has a lot to offer and some incredible sights to see!
Exquisite Arch TrailIf you’re stuck for ideas of what to observe in Arches NP, then keep reading. We’ve listed the best attractions to discover, as well as travel advice and itinerary suggestions.
Table Of Contents
About Arches National Park UtahBest Things to do in Arches National Park with Kids1. The Windows and Turret ArchDouble ArchSkyline ArchBalanced RockFiery Furnace Hike2 Drive The Scenic Drive ( For Amazing Viewpoints ) 3. How To Attend Arches National ParkBest Time to Visit Arches National ParkOpening Hours and Entrance FeesFAQs About Visiting Arches National Park How Much Should You Invest in Arches National Park? Do you need a 4WD vehicle for Arches National Park? What if you use to Arches National Park? How to Invest a Time in Arches National Park itinerary
About Arches National Park Utah
More than 2, 000 healthy sand bridges are known to adorn the beauty of Arches National Park.
It has the highest concentration of organic bridges in the world that have been created over 100 million years of deterioration.
Perfection takes day. Friends, endurance!
It’s really amazing to see how they are formed and to comprehend the power of water and ice, extreme conditions and underground water activity – all of which are responsible for the diverse and unique rock beauty of Arches NP.
The soft power of Mother Earth is demonstrated in this wonderful example. She may apply wind and water to move mountains!
The orange and red stone bridges appear beside you as you drive along the panoramic drive, and far into the distance you get flashes of the towering towers, pinnacles, and sensible stones you are immediately to explore.
From a tiny baby with a three-foot opening to the longest, 306-foot span, they are available.
Kalyra walking up to one half of The Windows ArchThis landscape is constantly changing and new arches being formed and old ones destroyed.
This occurs gradually, but occasionally more abruptly.
In 1991, a large slab of rock fell from Landscape Arch leaving behind a thinner arch and a bunch of scared people who heard the rumbling and thought it was a nearby thunderstorm.
Lucky no one was hurt when it fell.
A vibrant and colorful landscape with fins and pinnacles and hiking trails that wind under windows and arches is revealed to you by an 18-mile paved loop road through the park.
Prepare to be amazed.
Best Activities for Families in Arches National Park
Arches Park Utah is one of the best national parks to visit in the USA with kids as many of the hikes are short, easy and fun.
You can see a lot from the car on the scenic drive, but we highly recommend getting the kids out so they can appreciate scale, power, silence, patience and gradual change.
In Arches NP, do n’t miss the following…
1. Hiking in Arches National Park is a possibility.
There are some incredible Arches National Park hiking trails.
Put these on your list of things to do in Arches National Park!
Delicate Arch Hike
Delicate Arch Hilke UtahDistance: 3 miles return
2.5 hours total
Rated: Difficult
If you’ve seen any promotional materials for visiting Utah, you’ve seen Delicate Arch.
It is probably the most well-known arch in the world, or at least the most well-known of the Utah arches, and the most popular hike in the Arches National Park!
You can visit Wolfe Ranch at the beginning of this hike. Just be sure to watch your kids as you cross the trail just before you reach Delicate Arch.
Immediately before this section is a gap above on the slip rock. Walk up it ( with care ) for a unique first glimpse at Delicate Arch.
The kids enjoyed observing it while they sat in the shade. It motivated them to finish off the trail.
They actually inquired if they could simply end it there, but we insisted they did!
Sitting at the edge of the surrounding cliffs looking over Delicate Arch, I felt like I was in an ancient Roman amphitheater.
Stand under the arch ( look at me below for a scale of how big this thing is ) and then stand on the brink of the canon, with the dramatic La Sal Mountains in the background ( snow capped when we visited in April ) making for a contrasting desert image.
For those snow-capped views, April is a great time to visit Arches. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit Delicate Arch, especially for photographers, and especially in the heat of summer. OR, the sun was shining on the front of the arch when we arrived late at night.
Hot Tip: Go for sunrise or early morning and you should get fewer crowds.
Alternate Delicate Arch Viewpoint
A viewpoint is located just off the trailhead if you do n’t want to hike to Delicate Arch. There is a lower and an upper viewpoint.
After our hike, we simply returned to the lower viewpoint. It was only 100 yards and we were too tired after our hike to do the 0.5 miles to the Upper viewpoint on the rocky uphill route.
I ca n’t say for sure what the upper viewpoint is like, but the lower Delicate Arch viewpoint is not worth a stop. It will just be ho hum if you’ve already made it to Delicate Arch.
It’s very far in the distance and does n’t give you any wow factor. I highly advise climbing Delicate Arch.
If you ca n’t, then see about making the Upper Viewpoint as I’m sure the views will be better.
Landscape Arch Hike
Child-friendly hike in Arches National Park Distance: 1. 6 miles.
Time: 1 hour
Rated: Comfortable
Another one of the best Arches National Park hikes not to be missed is the Landscape Arch hike!
Landscape Arch is the beginning section of the longer and more challenging 7.9 mile Devil’s Garden Trail, which we did not want to attempt with the kids.
However, Landscape Arch is a simple walk with some steep climbs and opportunities for viewing more arches along the way. There are short side trails that lead to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arches.
The kids will enjoy posing under Pine Tree Arch. I adore how I later discovered that I had my back resting on a pine tree while staring at the structure.
Step back behind that and you’ll see it appear in the world of the arch.
You can continue on this path for another 1.3 miles to Double O Arch. With elevation changes, it’s a more challenging route. You can see the Double O Arch to the right of Landscape Arch when you approach it.
You only get further away from it with the trail. Side trails lead to Navajo Arch and Partition Arches.
The Windows and Turret Arch
I and my kids loved this hike in Arches National Park.
Time: 45 minutes
Rated: Comfortable
Three arches in one makes this a very efficient hike! From the North Window and South Window, head on the loop to Turret Arch. Do NOT miss this.
Turn around and look back at the North and South Window. You’ll see the MASK there!
It’s probably my favorite panoramic view in Arches National Park Utah.
I could n’t work out how people had taken that mask photo of North and South Window and thought that perhaps they had taken the time to hike the primitive trail behind the north and south window.
I turned around disappointed and decided to check out Turret Arch because it’s just over there because I was too tired to go on that adventure.
Then I heard Craig say,” Did you turn around and see the view”?
I popped the mask out of the socket. There it was.
What a view of Windows ArchAlways make sure you turn around to see views behind you. Nature is incredible. I just love this view.
Sand Dune Arch
Fun place for kids in Arches National ParkDistance: 0.3 miles return
20 minutes
Rated: Comfortable
Sand Dune Arch is a super easy trail and a respite from the desert heat.
For the kids, this trail has a gigantic sandy floor known as a sandpit that spans between some fins. Let them wrestle in the sand or jump off the small ledges ( not the arch ).
A little way into the sand pit, you will see the sand dune arch tucked away into the fins. It’s quite astounding how these arches in the middle of fins are created.
Rest awhile in the cool sand while the kids play.
There is a trail that crosses Broken Arch ( 1. 3 miles back ) if you had a lot of energy. It’s an easy flat trail cross open grassland.
You can see the Broken Arch in the distance from the Sand Dune Arch entry.
Double Arch
Distance: 0.5 miles return
20 minutes
Rated: Comfortable
Just across from Windows and Turret Arch is Double Arch. You can create four arches in an hour, which is even better.
We were maxed out at this stage so did n’t hike over to stand under it, but we could see it clearly from the parking lot.
The park’s Double Arch has the highest arch, and it allows for rock climbing under it.
Skyline Arch
Distance: 0.4 miles return
20 minutes
Rated: Comfortable
You might want to make a quick walk to Skyline Arch if you have a lot of time. It’s an easy walk over rocks to a closer view of the arch.
Skyline Arch is between Sand Dune Arch and Landscape Arch on the Devils ‘ Garden Drive.
We did n’t venture out to hike to it because it’s so obvious from the road.
Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock’s easy hike and cool photo op
20 minutes
Rated: Comfortable
Around Balanced Rock, one of the shortest trails in Arches National Park, is a short distance. You also get beautiful views across to the Windows here.
Fiery Furnace Hike
Distance: no trail
Rated: Difficult
Because there is no trail, you can hike to the Fiery Furnace, a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons that requires agility to explore.
To enter the Fiery Furnace, you must accompany a ranger- guided hike or obtain a day- use permit at the Arches NP Visitor Center.
You can get lost if there is a marked path.
Fiery Furnace hike is named for its sunset reddish glow. You can see it from the overlook viewpoint or join the guided ranger hike.
The Fiery Furnace hike was not planned by us, though. It can get busy and booked out so plan ahead.
A maze of canyons created by the sandstone fins are the backdrop to the Fiery Furnace Trail, a ranger-led guided hike that lasts 2 miles. It’s listed as strenuous and adventurous.
Only if you are experienced should you attempt it yourself because you could get lost in there. They do n’t advise solo hiking, they say!
2. For Amazing Viewpoints, Drive the Scenic Drive.
Arches National Park scenic driveThere is a 19- mile Arches Scenic Drive running through Arches National Park that starts from the park entrance at Highway 191 and goes to the Devils Garden trailhead.
Leave yourself plenty of time to stop off at viewpoints and the many trailheads along the way.
Along the scenic drive for viewpoints, there are many places to pull over.
But be aware parking is limited at all destinations, and popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden can fill up for hours, especially on weekends and holidays.
We stopped at a few locations, including:
Panorama Point
Petrified Dunes Viewpoint
Viewpoint of the Courthouse Towers
Pull over anywhere ( safely ) to get your shot of the snow capped La Sal Mountains in the background.
A particular viewpoint, known as the LA Sal Mountains Viewpoint, offers 360-degree views of the park and the mountains.
But really you can get that at numerous places along the first part of the drive as you enter the park.
La Sal Mountains in the background. We did n’t have enough time to hike Park Avenue, which is a short hike that leads to massive rock formations like the Three Gossips and Courthouse Towers.
3. The Junior Ranger Program Book for Children at Arches National Park is available.
Our kids doing the Junior Ranger pledgeAs we recommend for all National Park visits with kids, stop in at the Arches National Park Visitor Center and pick up the Junior Ranger Program books.
Be sure to do the required activities for your age level, and stop back in when you are finished to say your pledge and pick up your Juniper Ranger badge.
This is the most effective way to get the kids interested in what they’re learning and experiencing in the park.
I LOVE this program so much.
The activities in the Arches National Park Junior Ranger program were entertaining, such as having your partner guess what it is.
So cool. Engaging the kinesthetic learners.
Savannah was enthralled by that one. You’ll see it in our video when published ( subscribe so you do n’t miss it ).
How To Visit Arches National Park
]embedded content ] Arches National Park is located near Moab in Utah– it is practically on its doorstep. It’s so close that some refer to it as the Moab National Park.
Driving 10 minutes from Moab to the main entrance gate. You could even bike there from town.
How far away is Arches National Park?
Salt Lake City to Arches National Park:
Distance: 230 miles
Time: 3. 5 hours
Las Vegas to Arches National Park:
453 miles total
Time: 6.5 hours
Zion National Park to Arches National Park:
Distance: 310 miles
Time: 5 hours
Arches National Park is located in the Grand Canyon.
Distance: 333 miles
Time: 5.45 hours
Denver-to-arches national park
Distance: 351 miles
Time: 5.15
Bryce Canyon to Arches National Park:
Distance: 244 miles
Time: 4 hours
The closest airport to Arches National Park, as far as major airports go, is located in Salt Lake City International Airport ( 236 miles from Moab – 4 hour drive ).
You’re more likely to fly into Salt Lake Regional Airport, which is 2 hours drive from Arches National Park.
Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
Stunning Delicate Arch view – you ca n’t get more Utah than thatFall and Spring will typically be the best time to visit Arches National Park because it will have cooler temperatures but will still be sunny. Expect snow and chilly temperatures throughout the winter.
It’s going to be baking hot in summer in Arches National Park.
When Craig and I visited in the summer of 2006 ( pre-children ), I can recall feeling completely exhausted after a few hikes.
Strangely, the heat does not keep people away, so expect large crowds in summer.
If you visit in summer, carry enough water ( fill up at a the visitor center ). They advise at least one gallon ( 4 L) per day for each individual.
We carry our 6 gallon Igloo water containers in the back of our F250 truck and make sure they are filled. Our 21 oz Hydro bottles serve as our hiking water bottles.
Opening Hours and Entrance Fees
Entrance tickets are$ 30 per vehicle, which is good for 7 days. It costs$ 25 USD for entering on a motorbike, and only$ 15.00 for entering on foot.
You will need a vehicle to get around the park, since it’s massive, so I recommend you hire a car if you do n’t have your own.
Consider purchasing the National Parks Pass ( America the Beautiful ), an annual fee that provides unrestricted access to federal lands, if you have the opportunity to visit other American national parks. Arches National Park is included in the national parks pass.
If you are visiting all of the National Parks in Utah, or more national parks in the USA, this will be worth the cost.
Please take note that you must purchase a timed-entry ticket between April 1 through October 31.
The park is open 24 hours, but the visitor center is open daily from 8: 00 am to 4: 00 pm in the winter and 8: 00 am to 5.00 pm from Spring to Autumn. Hours vary on public holidays; see details here.
FAQs About Visiting Arches National Park
How Long Should You Spend in Arches National Park?
I suggest that you spend two days hiking through Arches National Park and seeing its highlights. They will not need to be full days either so you can enjoy a more relaxed pace and include a trip into Moab or even go bike riding along the Colorado River on the same day.
For Arches National Park, do you need a 4WD vehicle?
There is one paved scenic road through Arches National Park, and most of the attractions and hiking trails are accessible with a standard vehicle. There are off- road trails that you can tackle with a jeep (you can rent them in Moab ) if you want more adventure, otherwise you can hike those roads.
What should visitors to Arches National Park wear?
No matter what time of year you visit Arches NP, you will want to wear loose- fitting clothing, and pack a sun hat. Make sure you regularly apply sunscreen and seek shade in the middle of the summer months.
How to spend One Day in Arches National Park Itinerary
View from Landscape Arch TrailIf you only have one day in Arches National Park, you can still do a lot, but I recommend an early start and be prepared for a late finish.
I suggest the following points of interest:
Landscape Arch
Sand Dune Arch
North and South Window
Delicate Arch
As you move from one location to another, you can take in the scenic drive.
Tips for Visiting Arches National Park
Here are some things to think about before visiting Arches National Park before you head there…
Do n’t climb on the arches or balanced rock- sandstone is dangerous as it crumbles easily. It’s easier to climb up than down. Be cautious.
Do n’t stop in the middle of the road at sightseeing viewpoints.
Bikes cannot travel through the backcountry or on trails.
No ATV/ORV are allowed in the park.
Pets are not allowed on trails. Always be leashed on park paths, parking lots, or camping areas.
Backpacking permits must be purchased at the visitor center.
Expect park Wi-Fi or cell phone service to not function.
Where to Stay in Arches National Park, Utah
The best way to stay in Arches National Park is by camping. The Devils Garden Campground is the ONE campground in Arches National Park and offers 52 campsites with flush toilets and water.
You can reserve campsites for the busy season between March 1 and October 31, but the campground is usually full every night, so make reservations at least six months in advance if you can.
Camping establishments are available on a first-come, first-served basis between November and February.
If you cannot get into Devils Garden Campground, look for camping near Arches National Park. There are many options around the Moab area. See also this and this.
FREE camping near Arches National Park is possible. Off Hwy 191 and Willow Springs Road ( BLM378 ), we set up camp north of Arches.
Our camping spot on Willow Springs Road ( BLM378 ). There are no hotels or resorts in Arches National Park actually inside the park, so when looking for places to stay near Arches National Park, look no further than Moab.
In Moab, there are many lodging options at various price ranges.
Some of our top rated recommendations for places to stay are:
Budget: MainStay Suites and Sleep In & Suites.
Mid- Range: SpringHill Suites by Marriott and Archway Inn
Top End: Hyatt Place
See all of Moab’s hotels through our partner
Arches National Park with Kids Video
Want to learn more about Arches National Park’s kid-friendly activities? Here’s a video of our experience!
Tours of Arches National Park
Below are some of the best tours of Arches National Park from Moab if you do n’t want to go by yourself.
More Utah Travel Tips
Looking for more places to visit in Utah? Start here:
Utlimate guide of things to do in Zion National Park
Amazing activities are available in Canyonlands National Park.
Amazing things to do in Monument Valley
Best activities in Capitol Reef National Park
Best Moab activities to do
Peek- a- Boo and Spooky Canyon Hike – the best hike in Utah
Lower Calf Creek Falls, a hidden gem in Utah,
The magical and mystical Goblin Valley State Park
Route for a two-week road trip to Southwest USA
3 Week American Southwest road trip itinerary
4 week desert southwest road trip itinerary
More US national parks
Planning on visiting other national parks in the USA? Other useful guides are provided in this list…
Yosemite: Amazing things to do in Yosemite National Park
Grand Canyon: Tips for planning a trip to the Grand Canyon with kids ( or without )
Things to do in Zion National Park
Yellowstone: Tips for visiting Yellowstone National Park
Glacier: Unforgettable activities in Glacier National Park
Joshua Tree: Awesome things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Death Valley: Incredible things to do in Death Valley National Park
Olympic: Amazing things to do in the park’s Olympic Peninsula
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