Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.

The Best Arches National Park Hikes

Arches National Park, in eastern Utah, is one of our favorite National Parks to drive into. Immediately upon entering you steadily climb 1,000 feet up in less than a mile until you are transported to a completely different world of stunning red rock beauty — many people refer to it as “Mars-like.” Arches is an awesome National Park for day-hiking. The longest trail in Arches National Park is just over 7 miles, meaning you can cross off several of the best Arches National Park hikes in a short weekend or even a single day.

••• Getting To and Around Arches National Park •••

Arches National Park is in eastern Utah just outside of Moab, UT.  The park is 3.5 hours from Salt Lake City, UT, 5 hours from Denver, CO and 6 hours from Las Vegas, NV. Arches National Park is within 30 minutes of Canyonlands National Park and 2 hours of Capitol Reef National Park. All three of which make for a great one week road trip of Utah’s stunning red rock desert landscapes.

It’s an incredibly easy national park to navigate making it great for beginners or those looking for a one day visit.  There is one main entrance, one visitors center, one campground, and one main road through the Park,  with a couple off-shoots to access additional trailheads. There is no shuttle service, so you will need a car to explore.

It takes about an hour to drive from the entrance to the very end of Arches National Park if you only stop and take a few pictures. Note that in 2017, the roads are undergoing a major construction project, so expect delays. Updates can be checked here.

••• Best Time to Visit Arches National Park •••

— Spring and Fall —

Arches National Park can be visited anytime of year but you definitely need to be prepared for the weather based on the season you visit. The most popular (and busy) seasons to visit are Spring (April-May) & Fall (Sept-Oct). In Spring and Fall, daytime temperatures in Arches range from 60-80 degrees, with lows averaging 30-50 degrees.

— Summer —

During summer, daytime temperatures in Arches National Park can easily reach over 100 degrees. There is also no shade in the park. Personally, I’d avoid summer in Arches National Park, but if it is the only time you can visit, make sure to drink a TON of water, slather on loads of sunscreen, and wear a hat.

— Winter —

Winter in Arches can be cold with temperatures ranging from 30 to 50 degrees during the day and nighttime lows from 0 to 20 degrees. If you catch it on a nice sunny day though, it can be one of the best times of year to visit. Crowds are thin in the winter, and you’ll find a lot more solitude. Plus if you’re lucky enough to catch these desert landscapes covered in a little snow, it creates a gorgeous contrast with the red sandstone.

••• Trail Details for the Best Arches National Park Hikes •••

You can see the location of all of these Arches National Park hikes on this NPS map.

The Windows Hike

Trailhead & Parking Area: The Windows Trailhead

Distance: 1 mile roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 187 feet

Difficulty Level: Easy

The Windows area of Arches National Park is great for getting out of the car and seeing up close the unique rock formations that define Arches National Park. The windows is a gravel loop trail that will take you to the North Window, South Window and Turret Arch. The North and South Windows stand side by side and are often referred to as “the Spectacles” since they resemble a pair of eyeglasses separated by a large “nose.”

If you continue past Turret Arch you can continue to Double Arch and the Parade of Elephants. The Parade of Elephants is an immense rock formation that resembles a herd of elephants traveling in a single file line holding one another’s tails. The Windows is a great starting hike in Arches National Park, but don’t expect to find solidarity due to it’s easy access. For a bit quieter experience, follow the signs to the primitive trail, which is slightly longer, and starts at the South Window viewpoint.

Windows Area in Arches National Park // Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.

Broken Arch Loop

Trailhead & Parking Area: Sand Dune Arch

Distance: 2 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 226 feet

Difficulty Level: Easy

This is a great loop hike with a lot of diversity in the landscape and two arches along the way – Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch.  The trail begins at the Devil’s Garden Campground and crosses a large area covered in desert shrubs. Next you’ll weave in and out of series of fractured rocks protruding from the ground called fins. The landscape then transforms to slickrock with a short easy scramble before returning to the parking lot. We love this trail for the simple fact that it’s a wee bit off the beaten path and not as packed as other Arches National Park hikes.

Broken Arch in Arches National Park // Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.Photo: Soup-a-loop

Delicate Arch

Trailhead & Parking Area: Wolfe Ranch

Distance: 3 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 610 feet

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Delicate Arch is one of the most famous arches in Utah. It may look familiar as it’s the one that appears on Utah license plates — the arch is a state symbol and a must-do hike in the park! Don’t miss the opportunity to also view ancient petroglyphs near the trailhead. The first half mile of the trail is well-defined, and the real fun comes afterwards. The next section of trail follows multiple rock cairns, steadily climbing 500 feet up Utah slickrock. Eventually you curve up and around a large rock mound and Delicate Arch comes into view.

With the elevation gain, the trail boasts incredible views of the park’s desert floor and the La Sal mountain range in the distance. We highly recommend hiking out to Delicate Arch for sunset. You’ll experience fewer people on this extremely popular route, and sunset presents some pretty incredible photo ops. And if you are feeling extra adventurous, pack a picnic dinner, headlamps, and warm clothes and stay for some stargazing.

Delicate Arch // Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.

Landscape Arch

Trailhead & Parking Area: Devil’s Garden Trailhead

Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip

Elevation G: 130 feet

Difficulty Level: Easy

This Arches National Park hike is a great warm-up or for those who don’t necessarily love hiking. It is a relatively flat path that is even accessible to wheelchairs with assistance. The famous landscape arch’s span is more than a football field in length and is rumored to be the largest arch on the planet.

On the way to the arch don’t miss the sign on the left side of the trail that talks about in 1991 when a 73-foot slab of rock fell from underneath the thinnest section of the arch. In 1995, two additional masses of rock fell from the arch leaving it even thinner. At its thinnest section, it is currently only 6 feet thick. Eventually landscape arch might only exist in photos, so go see it now!

Not ready to head back to the car quite yet? Keep hiking past the Landscape Arch on the primitive trail towards Devil’s Garden for an incredible loop that will entertain you with more arches to be mesmerized by (see below for more details).

Landscape Arch // Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.

 Primitive Trail at Devil’s Garden

Trailhead & Parking Area: Devil’s Garden Trailhead

Distance: 7.2 miles roundtrip

Elevation Gain: 490 feet

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Continuing past Landscape Arch, you’ll enter an area called the Devil’s Garden. This is the longest and most challenging continually maintained trail in Arches National Park. After reaching Landscape Arch the trail gets a little more challenging as you climb over sandstone slabs and walk on narrow ledges and exposed fins. As you climb the narrow sandstone fins you’ll have sprawling views of Arches National Park. Don’t forget that the park is continually evolving and changing. The fins you are walking across will someday potentially be arches themselves!

About a mile and a half past Landscape Arch you’ll find Double O Arch, an awesome place with plenty of shady spots to stop for a picnic lunch. After Double O Arch, the trail becomes even more primitive, and you’ll need to pay attention to the rock cairns that mark the trail. If you have extra time, you can take a short side trail to the Dark Angel, a unique 150-foot sandstone tower.

As you continue on the primitive trail it’ll loop back to Landscape Arch and then back out to the trailhead. This trail is among our favorites in the park as its a little more adventurous than the other trails. As you continue past Landscape Arch the crowds will also die down, giving you a bit of solitude in a generally very busy park.

Devils Garden // Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.

Fiery Furnace

Trailhead & Parking Area: Fiery Furnace

Distance: Varies depending on route

Elevation Gain: Varies depending on route

Difficulty Level: Advanced (requires ranger or permit)

Looking for even more? One Arches hike I still need to cross off my bucketlist is the “Fiery Furnace” which can only be accessed on a 3-hour ranger-guided tour or by obtaining a hiking permit at the visitor center. The Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons, and is the most exciting Arches National Park hike due to its route finding and challenging terrain.

The area got its name due to the tall giant rock fin that rises up against the bright blue sky and resembles a fiery red furnace. We technically shouldn’t call this a “trail” since there is not one designated route or trail. Instead you’ll find a vast and complicated network of narrow slots, boulders, and fins that you have to navigate your way through.

If you opt to go self-guided, you’ll need to watch a short video in the visitor’s center about the area that has safety information and tips for route finding in the Fiery Furnace. Picking the ranger-guided tour option gives you the opportunity to learn firsthand from a ranger about the geology of Arches National Park. If you want to do the guided tour, make sure to plan ahead as the tours get booked up fast.

Fiery Furnace // Arches National Park in southeast Utah is a day-hikers paradise. Get details on the best Arches National Parks hikes and learn when to plan your visit.


••• Biking in Arches National Park •••

Not a big hiker but want to get outside the car to explore? Arches National Park is a great park to explore by bike, especially if you come early in the morning when there is less traffic. You can even rent bikes in nearby Moab, Utah and travel a paved bike path from town to the entrance of Arches National Park.

••• Camping in Arches National Park •••

The Devils Garden Campground in Arches National park features 50 sites which are $25 per night and can accommodate up to 10 people. I haven’t stayed at the campground myself, but I drove through it and it’s spacious and full of wide open views. Just make sure to make a reservation, as spots fill up far in advance.

There is no food available in Arches National park but there are four great picnic areas, so make sure to plan ahead and pack plenty of food to fuel your Arches National Park adventures.

Since September 6th, 2016 all backcountry overnight camping has been suspended but don’t worry with all the options listed above there is obviously plenty of great day hiking in the park.

Important to Note: the campground will be closed March 1st to November 30th in 2017 due to big road construction project. Luckily there is a ton of other camping options in Moab.

More Info: The Ultimate Guide to finding free camping in the US

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE
HIKES IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, TWEET ME, OR WRITE ME A POST ON FACEBOOK.

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