Arches National Park is one of five National Parks in Utah. Home to magnificent desert arch formations and expansive vistas, to say there are amazing things to do in Arches National Park would be an understatement.
Whether you want to hike a few trails or drive Arches National Park scenic park road, both options are great for those wishing to attempt to see the 2,000+ arches that call this National Park home.
Officially becoming a National Park in November 1971, Arches National Park sees more than 1.5 million visitors annually, and you better believe that number is growing! And once you visit, you’ll soon see why.
Arches National Park is breathtaking and full of scenic natural beauty. From its famous Double Arch to its Balanced Rock, Arches is one of the places everyone needs to visit at least once in their life.
So without further ado, let’s get to some of the best things to do in Arches National Park.
1. Arches Scenic Park Road Drive
There is one road that navigates the interior of Arches National Park. It’s 19 miles long (one way) and will take you to some of the best things to do in Arches National Park!
Excited? You should be.
Driving the 19-mile Park Road straight through will take you around 1.5 hours-ish, but trust us when we say you’ll be stopping! The best part about the Park Road is you can see MANY of the top sights of Arches from your car window. And if you can’t see them from your window, they are a short hike or walk away!
Depending on what time of year you visit Arches National Park, parking can be limited and hard to find, especially on weekends and holidays. You may need to be patient and wait for a spot to open up. If you have to wait, at least you’ll have beautiful views to keep you company!
2. Park Avenue
One of the first stops on the Park Road is Park Avenue. While there are no arches at this trailhead and overlook, the views are well worth your time.
If you’re up for a short hike, you can walk the 1-mile (one-way) trail past incredible rock formations until you reach The Court House Towers.
If you feel like skipping the hike, no worries! There is an overlook where you can take in the views of Park Avenue and snag a few photos before carrying on to your next stop!
3. Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock is definitely among the more popular rock formations in the park! Giving the illusion that the rock is “balancing” and may give way at any moment makes it unique.
You can view Balanced Rock by driving past it on the Park Road or pulling into the parking lot and walking the 0.3-mile (round trip) paved trail to get a closer view.
Either way, it’s worth a visit and for you to place a guess when it may (or may not) tumble 🙂
4. Windows Arch
If you are looking for a relatively easy hike where you can see a lot of arches in one area, this is for you!
The Windows Trail lets visitors get up close and personal with not one, not two, but three arches in a short one-mile (round trip) hike.
North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch are the arches you can experience, along with other exceptional views of the park as you traverse the trail. Plus, across the street from the Windows Trail is another must-see arch.
We’ll get to that next!
5. Double Arch
Double Arch is undoubtedly one of the more impressive arches in Arches National Park. Plus, the fact that you can climb up to the archway for exceptional views of the National Park doesn’t hurt its “impressive” factor!
Located across the way from Windows Arch, you’ll walk a short 0.3 miles from the parking lot, where you can stand under Double Arch and climb up it if you wish.
Double Arch is the tallest arch in the park, standing oh-so-tall at 112 ft. Oh, and it’s also the second-longest arch in the park too!
So yes, this arch is one of the best things to do in Arches National Park!
TIP! Across from Windows Trailhead, you’ll find a connector trail that’ll take you to Double Arch Trailhead. We suggest leaving your car parked at the Windows Trailhead and taking the connector trail to see Double Arch.
6. Fiery Furnace
One of the best things to do in Arches National Park, which is not an arch, is the maze of rock formations that make up the Fiery Furnace.
Named for the reddish glow that radiates off the rocks at sunset, the Fiery Furnace is a 2-mile hike that weaves you in and out of the maze of canyons with towering sandstone walls on either side.
While you can see the sandstone fins that make up the Fiery Furnace from the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint off the Park Road, the best way to experience it is by hiking it yourself or through a ranger-guided hike and tour.
To explore and hike the Fiery Furnace, reservations/permits are required. Spots fill up fast, so if this experience interests you, you should make reservations ahead of time through the National Park website.
7. Landscape Arch
The longest arch not only in Arches National Parks but in all of North America is Landscape Arch.
Spanning the length of 306 feet, segments of Landscape Arch came crashing down in the 1990s, leaving its narrowest section intact by a mere 6ft. You could say Landscape Arch is hanging on by a thread!
To this day, the arch remains intact, making it all the more reason to see this formation because who knows when the remaining segments will come crashing down!?
Where is Landscape Arch in the National Park? Well, we’ll get to that just below. It so happens to be along one of the best hiking trails in Arches National Park.
8. Devil’s Garden
Without a doubt, one of the most popular hikes in Arches National Park is Devil’s Garden. It also happens to be one of the hardest and the longest trails in the entire park if you hike the whole trail (7.9 miles).
If you decide to tackle the entire trail, you can expect it to take 3-5 hours. Along the way, you’ll see numerous iconic arches such as Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Double O Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, and Private Arch.
Devils Garden is located at the park’s northern end, where you’ll find not only the arches listed above but narrow ledges, expansive views, steep and uneven surfaces, and some rock scrambling here and there.
However, tackling the whole trail is only optional.
If the entire Devil’s Garden trail sounds too intense, there are ways to shorten the hike while still seeing some of the park’s iconic arches.
Landscape Arch Trail:
The shortest option is to just hike to Landscape Arch, around 2 miles roundtrip. If you choose this option, understand the only arch you’ll see is Landscard Arch.
TIP! Before getting to Landscape Arch, you can take a spur trail leading you to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. This will add a mile to your Landscape Arch hike if you add the short jaunt to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch.
Double O Arch Trail:
A slightly longer option (the middle option) is the 4-mile roundtrip hike to Double O Arch. To get to Double O Arch, you’ll pass by Landscape Arch, where the trail climbs steeply over sandstone slabs and narrow ledges until eventually reaching Double O Arch.
TIP! On your way to Double O Arch, you can add on the same 1-mile spur trail to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. Additionally, you can add a second spur trail to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch, which is located past Landscape Arch.
After you arrive at Double O Arch, you can either turn back or carry on to tackle the entire Devil’s Garden Trail, where you’ll find Dark Angel and Private Arch.
However you choose to conquer Devil’s Garden Trail, one this is for sure, it’s one of the top things to do in Arches National Park!
9. Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch is THE most famous arch in all of Arches National Park. You won’t find a best things to do in Arches National Park list without mentioning Delicate Arch.
Delicate Arch is the largest free-standing arch in the park, and you have two ways to view it.
The first of which and the option that’ll get you the closest is to hike. The hike up to Delicate Arch is a 3-mile round trip hike over slick rock and sandy trails. Once you park your car in the parking lot, you will walk uphill most of the way to Delicate Arch.
The second option is for those wanting to avoid hiking the moderate 3-mile hike is to view Delicate Arch from the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint. Some walking is still involved, but it is much shorter and more manageable than the 3-mile hike.
Fair warning. The Delicate Arch Viewpoint allows you to see Delicate Arch, but the views are far away, making Delicate Arch look relatively small.
If you want the best views of Delicate Arch and to truly understand its size, hiking to Delicate Arch is it.
When visiting Delicate Arch, understand the best time to photograph it is at sunset when the light is shining on the arch vs. backlit behind it, which happens at sunrise.
Also, understand Delicate Arch is crowded. The parking lot and hiking trail become overrun with park visitors. To try to beat the crowds, visit Delicate Arch at sunrise.
10. Stargaze in Arches National Park
Last but certainly not least of the best things to do in Arches National Park is a nighttime activity. Stargazing.
Arches National Park has some of the darkest night skies in the Southwest, making it optimal for looking at stars.
Certified as an international dark sky park in 2019, visitors can enter the park at night to stargaze on their own or join a park-ranger lead stargazing. Whichever option you choose, both allow you to enjoy Arches National Park after dark.
Tips For Stargazing in Arches National Park:
- The best time for stargazing is on a clear, moonless night. If there are clouds, you won’t see any stars; if the smallest moon is out, it’ll make it difficult to see the fainter stars and the Milky Way.
- The farther north you drive in the Park, the darker the sky will be.
- The best places to see stars in Arches National Park are Balanced Rock Picnic Area, The Windows Section, Garden of Eden Viewpoint, and Panorama Point.
Can You Enter Arches National Park Without a Time Entry Reservation
If you are visiting Arches National Park from April 1st to October 31st, visitors must have a time entry reservation to enter the National Park.
Those who do not have a time entry reservation may enter Arches National Park before 7:00 AM or after 4:00 PM.
To secure your time entry reservation to enter Arches National Park, you must make reservations on Recreation.gov. Reservations are first-come, first-served and are available three months in advance of your visit per the following schedule:
- January 10th at 8 AM MST: April Reservations (April 1–30)
- February 1st at 8 AM MST: May reservations (May 1–31)
- March 1st at 8 AM MST: June reservations (June 1–30)
- April 1st at 8 AM MDT: July reservations (July 1–30)
- May 1st at 8 AM MDT: August reservations (August 1–31)
- June 1st at 8 AM MDT: September reservations (September 1–30)
- July 1st at 8 AM MDT: October reservations (October 1–31)
If you still need a reservation, a limited number of tickets will be available one day before entry at 6 PM MDT through Recreation.gov. To learn more about time entry reservations, please visit the National Park website for the latest updates.
Tips for Visiting Arches National Park:
- Entrance Fee: $15 for cyclists | $25 for motorcycles | $30 for vehicles
- Park Hours: Open year-round, 24 hours a day (Visitor Center hours vary); time entry permits are required to enter the National Park
- Facilities: There are no gas stations or restaurants in the park. You’ll need to fill your tank in Moab and plan to bring any food or drink with you. Bathrooms can be found at the Visitor Center and popular/select trailheads.
- Dogs/Pets: Dogs are allowed in the park but with limited access. Pets are not permitted on any trails or at any overlooks.
- Offline Maps: Cell phone reception in the park can be spotty. If there are any items you need to use offline, i.e., navigation maps, hiking trail maps, music, etc., please download them ahead of entering the National Park.
Tip! Your Arches National Park entrance fee is accepted for seven consecutive days and allows you to come and go as you wish. If you are exploring other National Parks in Utah, consider purchasing the National Parks pass.
Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
The best time to visit Arches National Park is either over the Spring or Fall months. Due to fewer tourists and cooler temperatures, April through May and September through October are great months to visit Arches.
Once the summer months hit, school is out, and summer is the prime time for people to use those vacation days. While visiting Arches National Park over the summer is a great option, you should be prepared for crowds and temperatures in the 90s and low 100s.
If you want to visit Arches National Park in winter, you can expect minimal crowds, colder to freezing temps (dress warm!), and shorter days.
Where Is Arches National Park & How to Get There
Arches National Park is located just North of Moab and South of Crescent Junction in central-eastern Utah. Moab is the closest city/town to Arches National Park and is the best place to stay if you are not camping within the National Park.
From Moab, you can easily access the park by cycling or driving 5 miles to its entrance.
To get to Moab, the closest major airport is Salt Lake City International Airport, a 3.5-4 hour drive away. There is a closer regional airport, Grand Junction Colorado Regional Airport, which is about 1.5 hours away from Moab and Arches National Park.
Whichever airport you fly into, you’ll need to rent a car, van, or RV to drive the several-hour journey to Moab and get around Arches National Park.
There is no shuttle within the National Park, so you’ll need a vehicle (or bicycle) to get you to see the best things to do in Arches National Park.
How Many Days Do You Need in Arches National Park
One day in Arches National Park is doable, making it perfect for those road-tripping through Utah who are short on time or just looking to experience the park highlights.
However, we recommend spending two-day in Arches National Park. Two days will allow you to explore the park at your own pace, take an ATV tour, or tackle a hike. Plus, Moab is a delightful little town, so you’ll also be able to experience it over two days.