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