Saturday, January 9, 2021

Arches National Park Travel Guide

I visited Arches National Park when I was in high school, during a family road trip from Saint Louis to Los Angeles and back. We spent a few hours exploring the park and seeing some of the well known rock formations. We visited in July and the heat is no joke. Arches National Park only gets about 9 inches of rain in a year! Make sure you pack plenty of water if you plan to hike or spend a lot of time outside. It can be difficult to find shade. 

About Arches National Park

Located near Moab, Utah, Arches National Park is one of five National Parks in Utah. It is known for having the highest density of natural sandstone arches in the world. The park was actually originally designated as a national monument before being named a national park in 1971. 

Other National Parks in Utah

  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Zion National Park

Arches Visitor Center

The only visitor center found in Arches National Park is located near the entrance. While the park is open 24 hours and 365 days a year, the visitor center is open 9am-5pm. It closes on major holidays and has shortened hours in the winter.

Things to do at Arches National Park

There are a few lengthy hiking trails at Arches National Park, but most are short hikes to see rock formations. The accessibility of this national park makes it popular for many types of visitors. You will find some "primitive" trails if you are a more experienced hiker and want to avoid overcrowded areas.

Best Hikes at Arches National Park

Delicate Arch Trail

3.0 miles, 610 foot elevation gain
This out and back trail takes you to Utah’s most iconic natural arch formation. While it is a short trail, the incline makes it a moderate overall hike. It is an incredibly popular trail but considered a must-do when visiting Arches National Park. Many recommend hiking this trail at sunrise or sunset for the best views.

Landscape Arch Trail at Devils Garden

1.9 miles, 259 foot elevation gain
One of the world’s longest stone arches, Landscape Arch, is 306 feet wide and only 11 feet thick at the center. This trail is located within Devils Garden and is a relatively flat trail. There are also side trails to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches. 

Double O Arch Trail at Devils Garden

4.5 miles, 672 foot elevation gain
The Landscape Arch trail continues on to a more challenging trail. There are a few spots that will require some scrambling or climbing. It is not an ideal trail for those that have a fear of heights. Bring plenty of water.

The Windows Loop

1.2 miles, 154 foot elevation gain
A short hike will get you to the well-known North and South Windows and you will be able to see several other formations.  This trail is also very popular but you can add the “primitive loop” for less crowds and more great views. 

Iconic Rock Formations at Arches National Park

  • Balanced Rock
  • Delicate Arch
  • Double Arch
  • Fiery Furnace
  • Landscape Arch
  • North & South Windows
  • Three Gossips
  • Turret Arch

Rock Climbing in Arches National Park

Those experienced in rock climbing may want to try their skills at Arches. You will need to obtain a free permit, which can be done ahead of time or on the day you intend to climb. To maintain the natural beauty of the park, the National Parks Service requires chalk to be similarly colored to the rocks and fixed gear is also painted to match. Rock climbing is also limited to groups of five or less.

Where to Stay at Arches National Park

Devils Garden Campground is the only site to camp within Arches National Park. Travelers can reserve campsites in advance up to 6 months before and they do fill up. There are also many campgrounds in Moab, Utah. Backpacking is also allowed at Arches National Park with a permit. You can camp for up to three nights in the same area. Backpackers are responsible for following rules and leaving minimal traces of their trip.

Closest Cities to Arches National Park

  • Moab, Utah ~5 miles south
  • Grand Junction, Colorado ~109 miles northeast
  • Salt Lake City, Utah ~230 miles northwest


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