10 Tips for Arches National Park

Last updated: September 21st, 2023 | Originally published: August 14, 2023
Arches National Park

Arches National Park is incredibly easy to appreciate. It is the Goldilocks of National Parks.

Imagine a peach during it’s ten perfect minutes. Or a blind man’s vision of Titan croquette. To stroll amongst the grandeur of the arches, the abstract rocky gardens, is to contemplate the planet upon which we live.

Everyone should visit Arches National Park at some time during their lives. And when you do, please remember these ten simple tips. We hope you enjoy.

1. Book Your Auto Pass in Advance

Arches National Park
Landscape Arch, Arches National Park

This is new. From April 1 through October 31, 2023, visitors entering the park in a vehicle between 7 am and 4 pm will need to have already purchased a Timed Entry Ticket from Recreation.gov before reaching the park. One ticket is needed per vehicle. The $2.00 fee is a Recreation.gov service charge.

Those that arrive before 07:00 do not need a pass. Just putting that out there for the sunrise crowd. The pass is required only for entry, not for parking within the park. Book your pass HERE (rec.gov).

2. Watch the Sunrise at Window Arch

Arches National Park
Window, or Spectacles Arch at Arches N.P.

One of the most popular things to do at Arches National Park is watch the sunrise at Window Arch. When the sunlight hits the rocks they glow red. Check out the sunrise times HERE.

If you arrive early, there is a great place to sit on the east side of the arch. Climb up the rocks on the right-hand side to an elevated view that buys your a little space from the crowd.

3. Delicate Arch is Better than You Imagine

Arches National Park
The Wall

There are few settings in the USA as sublime as Delicate Arch (top photo). It is the hallmark attraction of Arches National Park; an image entirely distinct and symbolic of the National Parks system as a whole.

The hike is difficult, if surprisingly dull — steady uphill slog across a rock incline comprises more than half of the trail. Many a wailing pre-schooler can be found halfway up the hill, their brave parents alternating looks of concern and consternation.

But… once you come around the final bend and take in the otherworldly tableau you’ll forget all about those crying children. This is a special place, even magic, if you believe in that sort of thing. The photographs never do it justice.

4. The Devil’s Garden is a Wonderland

Arches National Park
Double O Arch, Arches National Park

After Delicate Arch, there is no greater territory inside Arches National Park than the Devil’s Garden. Here you will find many iconic arches, including Landscape Arch, Double-O Arch, Private Arch, Navajo Arch, Wall Arch, as well as the Dark Angel feature and an assortment of interesting rock formations.

The hike to Double-O Arch and back is 4-miles R.T. This is our recommendation. Most of the features can be found upon the way.

The portion of the hike between the Navajo Arch Trail-Primitive Loop Trail crossroads and the Double-O Arch is quite incredible. We always enjoy walking across the top of the elevated rocky ridges. The views and the trail are fantastically interesting. That said, the path is unclear and easy to lose. Just keep moving in the general direction and you’ll eventually be funneled to the Double-O payoff.

5. Canyonlands National Park is Next Door

Arches National Park
Devil’s Garden, Arches National Park

The National Parks system is brimming with gifts, perhaps none greater gift than an N.P. twofer. There are only a handful of twofers in the USA: Carlsbad/Guadalupe Mountain, Yellowstone/Teton, Badlands/Wind Cave, King’s Canyon/Sequoia, Everglades/Biscayne, and maybe Bryce/Zion, so we’re pretty blessed to have Arches and Canyonlands less than an hour apart.

Here’s a MAP. If you’d like to read a little bit about Canyonlands National Park, here you go!

If you love to travel, or love the idea of traveling more, better, or different, we have something we would like to give you. It is our professionally designed e-book and it is FREE of charge. We think it’s pretty great, and we’re pretty sure you’ll like it, too. It’s called, “Cultivating a Lifetime of Travel”. Click HERE. and we’ll send it on over!

6. Moab Hotels are Expensive. Try Monticello.

Arches National Park
Taken from the viewing ledge at Window Arch

We wanted to stay one night in Moab. One night! In March, no less, when the weather was in the low-30’s during the day. And it was $250+ to stay in a downtrodden hovel. Forget that.

For $100 we crashed at a downtrodden hovel in Monticello, Utah, and enjoyed the hour long drive.

So yeah, we’re a little cheap. Maybe you are, too. Here’s a MAP. We stayed HERE. It was perfectly nice.

7. Arches is One of Five National Parks in Utah

Arches National Park
Najavo Arch, Arches National Park

Utah is a bit of a National Park hotspot. All within a few hours are: Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. Many visitors will hit all five parks in succession.

We rank them in the following order: Zion, Bryce/Arches (tie), Canyonlands, Capitol Reef. If you’ve never been to Zion National Park, thank the Lord your best days are ahead of you.

Other states with an outsized serving of National Parks: California (9), Alaska (8), Colorado (5). Washington, Arizona, and Florida each have three.

8. You Can See the Whole Park in One Day

Arches National Park
Weiner-Shaped Rocks at Arches National Park

If you only have one day to visit Arches National Park, we recommend the following:

  • Catch sunrise at Window Arch. Explore the surround area, including Turret Arch and Double Arch.
  • Hike to Delicate Arch. Relax.
  • Hike the Devil’s Garden to Double-O Arch.
  • Catch some of the roadside features on the way back out: Balance Rock, Three Sisters (gossips), the Wall, and whatever else catches your fancy.

Of course it is better to spend more than one day. The above itinerary would be 8+ miles of hiking and you might feel rushed, but you should be satisfied with the experience.

9. Admire Incredible Rock Features from the Road

Delicate Arch, Devil's Garden, Window Arch, Landscape Arch, Double Arch

As mentioned above, there are some unreal formations just “sitting” on the side of the road. Arches National Park has plenty of pull-out parking to accomadate gawkers.

10. One Campground at Arches National Park

Delicate Arch, Devil's Garden, Window Arch, Landscape Arch, Double Arch
Devil’s Garden, Arches National Park

The Devil’s Garden campground has about 50 campsites, all non-electric. It is located at the deepest part of the park near the Devil’s Garden trailhead. HERE is the website for reservations.

There are no other campgrounds inside Arches National Park.

An Honest Conclusion for Arches National Park

Delicate Arch, Devil's Garden, Window Arch, Landscape Arch, Double Arch
Three Sisters, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch is one of the best things you will see in all of your USA travels. As far as we’re concerned it belongs on every traveler’s bucket list. Everything else in Arches National Park is pleasing to the eye, yet falls short of the iconic formation. FWIW, the arch photographs best later in the day and at sunset.

The park is best experienced in the early morning light, so catch the sunrise if you can. You’ll have the added benefit of beating the crowds, if only for a few hours.

The park sprawls a bit, which gives it nice pacing. There are four primary areas: Park Avenue/Courthouse, Window Arch, Delicate Arch, and Devil’s Garden. Here’s a MAP. If you have the time all four are worth visiting.

We’ve been to Arches National Park twice and we would go back again. It’s just so easy. Like watching Predator, Roadhouse, or Weird Science, Arches never gets old. We wouldn’t say that about every national park and we hope Arches takes it as a compliment.

Thank you for stopping by our website! We are the Hoffmann family, a full-time RV family that has split residence in Seattle, Washington and San Antonio, Texas. We have special needs children that we homeschool, and work travel assignments for the Veteran Affairs Hospital. If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Start Here and Biography pages. In the meantime, God bless and travel happy!

If you’d like to visit some of the less discussed National Parks, check out a few of our other articles:

Big Bend National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Congaree National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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