Arches National Park, Utah, established in 1971, is home to lots of arches! 2000+ as a matter of fact. Besides that, it’s got some phenomenal rock formations which will leave you thinking “this is unearthly!”
Visitor Rating (write your own review below)
|Scenery||Brilliant red rock formations jutting from the scrub brush|
|Uniqueness||Largest concentration of natural arch formations anywhere|
|Wildlife||Not much seen, mostly nocturnal|
|Diversity||Many trails, many sights viewable by car|
ILNP Park Review
In a Word “Whimsical”
“He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.” -Job 9:5-6
Our Visit We have visited Arches twice, both in June. Our first visit can best be described as a “blitz.” We took a detour off I-70 about 90 minutes before sunset, so we really had to rush around and skip a lot of hikes. Our second visit was more planned, and we were able to spend a good part of two days in Arches.
Our Weather Hot and sunny. For the short trip, it was 80 and partly cloudy. For our second trip, temperatures were around 100 with only scattered clouds.
Overall Impression Arches is just plain fun! The formations and arches are amazing making your imagination run wild. Even after having seen Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon and thinking “we’ve seen all the cool red rock there is to see,” Arches was still a red rock world of its own and well worth a trip. Arches is not a big park, but there are many worthwhile hikes, most short enough for the casual visitor, so plan to spend plenty of time here.
Favorite Spot Under Double Arch
Minimum Time Required About 2 hours. If you’re in a time crunch, we recommend making a beeline to the Windows area of the park. This means skipping a lot of cool rocks near the entrance of the park, but you’re in Arches to see arches. The Windows area gives you easy access to four major arches including Double Arch, Turret Arch, and the North and South Window Arches. Visiting each arch is about a half-mile round trip, but the Window Arches and Turret can all be accessed via a loop. With a little more time, consider driving to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint to get at least a glimpse of Utah’s most famous Arch from the lower viewpoint.
A Longer Visit On a longer visit, you can spend more time visiting the pullouts along the road to view the unique formations like Park Avenue and Balanced Rock which can be viewed well from the side of the road but offer short hikes as well. For more arches, drive all the way to the end of the park’s main road. For those who like to hike, Devils Garden offers a lot of trails including an easy half-mile trail to see the frail looking Landscape Arch, one of the longest natural arches in the world.
Beyond Landscape Arch, the trail gets more strenuous. If Devils Garden is crowded, or you want a shorter hike, Skyline Arch and Sand Dune Arch are great short-hike options. Skyline Arch can be prominently seen for the entire hike. Sand Dune Arch is tucked into a pocket between red fins and is one of Arches’ hidden gems, especially for families with kids who like to run in the sand.
Many people take the more strenuous 3.0 mile round trip hike to the famous Delicate Arch. If you’re not up for a 3-mile hike, consider hiking to the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint. The trail is steep but short and makes the arch look about twice as big as the lower viewpoint, though it still seems pretty far away. Another nice hike is the primitive trail around the Windows Arches. The trail makes a loop around the arches and offers better light in the morning than the more trodden trails to the west of the arches. If you’re really up for an adventure, check in with a Park Ranger to find out about a Ranger-led hike into the Fiery Furnace, a maze of rock spires and slot canyons that requires either a permit or Ranger to visit.
Suggestions If you want good pictures, check the weather forecast for sun and go in the early morning or late evening when the sun is low and makes deep shadows and bright highlights, though the views mid-day are great, too. If you’re visiting on a weekend, we recommend going to the end of the road first in the morning and working your way back toward the entrance. This will give you better lighting on Landscape Arch which faces east, and put you in the Windows in the afternoon for good light on the south- and west-facing arches. Delicate Arch is best viewed in the evening from the 3-mile trail, but the morning makes for cooler temperatures for hiking.
This is the high desert. Take four times more water than you think you’ll need and drink it often. A good sunscreen and hat are also a necessity to keep from getting too crispy, especially in the summer. There isn’t any food or drink in the park, so you’ll need to bring everything in with you. A cooler is a must in the summer. Arches is an all-year park, so if you can, visit in the Spring or Fall for better temperatures. Many of the most famous arches are highly accessible, and you can hike right under them. Just beware there is a very slight risk of pieces falling from the arch. After all, these arches are still a work in progress, and the forces of nature are still carving them. If hiking, wear socks and shoes that you don’t care if they turn orange. Many of Arches’ trails are covered in a fine red sand that will get into your shoes in great volumes. If you’re using I-70 to access Arches from the east, take scenic Highway 128 as it winds through the colorful Colorado river valley surrounded by red cliffs.
Nearby Towns Moab, Utah.
Other Nearby Attractions Canyonlands National Park
Official NPS Website Arches NP
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