If you haven't been to Arches National Park, you need to go, even if it's for a drive-through. It might be hard to just drive through because this place is so mind-blowing and easy to explore that you're going to want to get out and see the best of Arches up close!
Arches NPS is a 76,000-acre park located just 10 minutes north of Moab, Utah. This park is home to over 2,000 arches and hundreds of other rock formations. There are hiking trails of all different skill levels located throughout the park and many places where you can see the formations from the parking lot. Listed below are our Top 8 mind-blowing sights in Arches and these are some of the most beautiful sights you've ever seen.
First things first. Where to stay to see the best of Arches NPS. The Archview RV Resort and Campground is the place to stay! It offers spacious RV spots with full hookups and cable, tent sites & cottages to rent. Archview also has a store, gas station (with better prices than some), restrooms, laundry, and a pool. There are amazing views of Arches NPS and plenty of hiking and ATV trails that take you out into the desert closer to Arches. Overall, it was a really nice stay and quite convenient to the park entrance at a short 10-minute drive.
A quick reminder about the National Park Pass. If you are planning on visiting more than a couple of parks a year, this is the way to go as many parks charge around $20-$30 or more to get in! For $80, you can have access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites! This includes the National Parks but also many other sites around the United States. Check out this website for the different types of Annual Passes available.
One last note before I get started with the best of Arches NPS. Download the GyPSy Guide app for detailed information about the hikes, a bit of history, and a very informative audio tour! This app has many different National Parks on it and works without WIFI, as long as you download it before you go. While the app is free to download, it costs anywhere from $3.99 to $9.99 to download the individual maps for each National Park or destination. I highly recommend it because while you do get maps at the visitor's centers, sometimes it's hard to figure where you actually are in the park and there is little to know WiFi in the park. This app uses your GPS to guide you around the parks so you can find your hikes and sites easier.
Our first stop on the best of Arches NPS tour is Devil's Garden, located at the very far end of the park, 18 miles from the visitor's center to be exact. This area is home to the Landscape Arch which is the longest arch in North America despite some of the arch tumbling down in the early 1990s. The trail to this arch is easy at 1.9 miles roundtrip on slightly hilly, hard-packed ground and offers a beautiful view of this 306-foot long arch. There are also 2 other arches to note just off the trail. Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch are very easy to get to located just a ½ mile off the main trail. For those able and motivated, venturing about 4 to 5 miles past the Landscape Arch will bring you to the Double O Arch and the Dark Angel, a large monolith, at the end of the trail. The trail is difficult though, going along ledges and climbing on your hands and knees and part of this trail is called the Primitive Trail!
Fun hikes for the kids. The Sand Dune Arch is located 0.3 miles from the parking lot and is a very sandy trail that leads up to the arch. I wouldn't bring a lot of gear because it can be a tight squeeze in some spots. It is also a very busy trail so go early. The Broken Arch Loop starts on the Sand Dune Arch Trail and goes roundtrip for 2 miles through grassy fields to the Broken Arch. It's very flat and an easy 2 miles with lots of plants and things to see along the trail. It's nice because the kids can see their destination and you won't hear “Are we there yet? ”.
Located near the Devil's Garden Campground and Amphitheater, the Skyline Arch has an easy trail of just 0.4 miles. Changes in arches can be super slow or happen quite suddenly. In 1940 a large portion of this arch fell off, nearly doubling its size! It's now 71 feet across and 35 feet high!
One of our evening stops while seeing the best of Arches was at the Fiery Furnace. The Fiery Furnace is a bunch of narrow sandstone canyons. You can view it from the viewpoint above, take a ranger-led tour or explore it on your own with a permit. It's very easy to get lost amongst the canyons though so make sure you are prepared if you plan to hike it alone.
It's called the Fiery Furnace because of how the sunset makes the tops of the sandstone turn red and orange. You have to be patient because it doesn't happen suddenly and it doesn't happen every day. The sun has to be at the right angle and the sky should be relatively clear to get the best effects. While we didn't have a super “fiery” furnace, it was quite beautiful at sunset. It is also a great place to see a lot of stars on a clear night!
Balanced Rock is one of the most iconic features in the park and it's very easy to get to. At 128 feet tall and 3,600 tons, it is actually a rock that has eroded away at the bottom to the point that it appears to be balancing on the rock below. While Balanced Rock can be seen from many places in the park, the short 0.3-mile walk to and around the formation is well worth the stop. Watch out for the slick stone though as I really wiped out here! !
The Windows section of Arches NPS contains many arches and formations and if you only have a small amount of time in the park, you need to go here. The North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch are easily accessible from the parking lot and include stairs and some uneven surfaces. You can climb into the windows and see the beautiful views out over the park. Be careful though as there are slick spots and many drop-offs! If you have 15-30 minutes to spare, the Double Arch trail is easy and provides views of the tallest and second largest arch in Arches NPS.
The Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers are giant monoliths that remind visitors of city skylines. Park Avenue is visible from the parking lot but it is much more awe-inspiring to take the trail all the way to Courthouse Towers. The trail leads from the parking lot down many steps into the canyon between all the monoliths. The monoliths “tower” over you and it's amazing. The trail is 2 miles roundtrip or you can have someone pick you up at the Courthouse Towers parking lot. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen because it is hot, hot, hot down there and you will need it! !
We saved the best of Arches and our favorite stop for last! Delicate Arch is the iconic, world-famous arch that everyone who goes to Arches NPS wants to see and by far our favorite hike! The opening in the arch is 46 feet tall and 32 feet wide and it is the largest free-standing arch in the park. It is absolutely breathtaking and a must-see!
There are 3 ways you can see this beautiful formation. The easy, not so easy, and the hard way. All the hikes are well worth it and depending on your skill level, will show you different views. Get there early because this is a popular arch!!!
a. The Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint is a short walk just 100 yards from the parking lot. It gives you a view of the Delicate Arch from about 1 mile away and is a good quick stop if you're short on time.
b. A ½ mile hike up to the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint is great for getting some closer photos and includes quite a few steps.
c. The hiking trail to the Delicate Arch, for those photos taken under and around the arch, is a 3-mile roundtrip gradual hike up steep, slick rocks and along cliffs. Highly recommend this trail, if you have the time and are able to complete it.
Arches National Park became our favorite park with all of the beautiful arches, formations, and exciting hikes. With something for everyone, you must add this place to your bucket list and see all the mind-blowing sights Arches National Park has to offer. You won't regret it!
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