Exploration of Arches National Park is as varied as the formations within the park. Visitors just passing through the area can get a great introduction to the park in just a few hours. Those wanting to experience some of the park's hiking trails can easily spend a full day or more. Multi-day visitors can explore the huge assortment of varied terrain within the park.
|Available Time||Suggested Activities|
|A Few Hours||Drive the 18 mile (36 mile round trip) Scenic Drive.|
|1/2 Day||Drive the Scenic
Drive and hike some of the short trails in the park, such
as the Park Avenue Trail and the trails in the Windows
Section of the park.
|Full Day|| Drive the Scenic
Drive and hike some of the longer trails in the park, such
as the trails to Delicate Arch (a signature of Utah, and
the arch depicted on the state centennial license plate),
Tower Arch, Landscape Arch, and Devil's Garden area trails.
Sign up for a ranger guided hike into the Fiery Furnace
|Several Days||Hikers can experience a wide variety of hiking trails, including some of the lesser-seen, yet equally spectacular, areas of the park such as the "Primitive Loop" in the Devil's Garden Section of the park. Relax and enjoy the solitude of the backcountry. Overnight backpacking is permitted if you stop at the visitor center for a backcountry permit.|
The Devils Garden Campground is located eighteen miles from the park entrance and is open year-round. Facilities include potable water, picnic tables, grills, as well as both pit-style and flush toilets. There are no showers. Bring your own wood or charcoal for the grills. Some sites will accommodate RV's up to 30 feet in length.
Telephone and on-line reservations for both group and individual sites may be made through www.recreation.gov. Reservations are not accepted by the park, and the park does not maintain information about site availability.
- Individual Sites
The campground has 52 individual sites which are $15 per night and will accommodate up to ten people. Up to 28 of the individual sites may be reserved for nights between March 1st and October 31st. Reservations must be made no less than 4 days and no more than 240 days in advance. There is an additional $9 booking fee for reservations. To make a reservation, visit www.recreation.gov, or call (877) 444-6777, (877) 833-6777 (TDD), or (518) 885-3639.
The remaining 24 campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis each day beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the park entrance station or visitor center.
- Group Sites
The campground has two sites for groups of eleven or more people. The Juniper Basin campsite will accommodate up to 55 people; the Canyon Wren campsite up to 35. The group camping fee is $3 per person per night, with a $33 per night minimum. No recreational vehicles or trailers are permitted in the group sites.
Group campsites may be reserved year-round. Reservations must be made no less than 4 days and no more than 360 days in advance. There is an additional $9 booking fee for reservations. To make a reservation, visit www.recreation.gov, or call (877) 444-6777, (877) 833-6777 (TDD), or (518) 885-3639.
Unreserved group campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of arrival.
No lodging is available within the park. The closest accommodations are located within the town of Moab, just 5 miles south of the entrance to the park. Click here for a list of accommodations in the Moab area.
One of the more rewarding ways to see the park is on foot. Arches features a wide variety of hikes, from short 10 minute walks (suitable for all ages) to 4 hour hikes into some of the remote sections of the park.
|Balanced Rock||.3 mi (5. km) round trip||15-30 min||A loop trail around the base of a fragile, picturesque rock formation.|
|Broken Arch||1.2 mi (2 km) round trip or 2 mi (3.2 km) with loop||30-60 min||From the Sand Dune Arch parking area, the trail cuts across a large meadow to the arch and continues to the campground. Loop trail leads through fin canyons with sand dunes and slickrock.|
|Delicate Arch Viewpoint||100 yards (91 meters) round trip||10-15 min||In addition to the short accessible trail, another (moderately strenuous) hiking trail climbs one-half mile (0.8 km) toward Delicate Arch and ends at the rim of a steep canyon that separates the viewpoint from the arch. (This is not the popular trail to Delicate Arch, which starts at the Wolfe Ranch parking area. See below.)|
|Desert Nature Trail||0.2 mi (0.3 km) round trip||15-30 min||Discover the adaptations of plants and animals in the desert on a self-guided nature walk. Trail guide available at the trailhead near the Visitor Center.|
|Double Arch||0.5 mi (0.8 km) round trip||15-30 min||A relatively flat, sandy trail leads to the base of two giant arch spans which are joined at one end.|
|Landscape Arch||2 mi (3.2 km) round trip||30-60 min||A relatively flat, gravel-surfaced trail leads to a spectacular ribbon of rock, whose span is more than a football field in length. Short side trips to Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches.|
|Sand Dune Arch||0.4 mi (0.6 km) round trip||15-30 min||Trail leads through deep sand to a secluded arch among sandstone fins. Kids love the sand!|
|Skyline Arch||0.4 mi (0.6 km) round trip||10-20 min||A short hike on a flat, well-defined trail.|
|The Windows||1 mi (1.6 km) round trip||30-60 min||A gentle climb up a gravel loop trail leads to three massive arches (North and South Windows and Turret Arch). An alternate return, slightly longer, is by way of the primitive loop around the back of the two Windows. The primitive loop trail starts at the South Window viewpoint.|
|Park Avenue||1 mi (1.6 km) one way||30-60 min||From Park Avenue parking area, the trail descends steeply into a spectacular canyon and continues down the wash to the Courthouse Towers parking area. If you have a shuttle driver, you can begin at one parking area and be picked up at the other. For round-trip hiking, retrace your steps along the trail.|
|Tower Arch||3.4 mi (5.6 km) round trip||2-3 hrs||The trail climbs a steep, but short, rock wall, then cuts across a valley and then meanders through sandstone fins and sand dunes. An alternate, shorter trail (0.3 mile [0.4 km] one way), begins at the end of the four-wheel-drive road on the west side of Tower Arch. This unpaved road washes out quickly in rainstorms; inquire at the visitor center about road conditions before heading out.|
|Delicate Arch||3 mi (4.8 km) round trip||2-3 hrs||Take at least 1 quart (1 liter) of water per person! There is no shade. Open slickrock with some exposure to heights. The first half-mile is a wide, well-defined trail. Upon reaching the slickrock, follow the rock cairns. The trail climbs gradually and levels out toward the top of this rock face. Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards. Elevation change: 480 feet (146 meters)|
|Devils Garden Primitive Loop||7.2 mi (11.5 km) round trip||3-5 hrs||Longest of the maintained trails in the park, the Devils Garden Trail leads to eight awe-inspiring arches. Expect narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and scrambling on slickrock. Not recommended when rock is wet or snowy.|
|Double O Arch||4 mi (6.4 km) round trip||2-3 hrs||Beyond Landscape Arch, the trail becomes more challenging as it climbs over sandstone slabs; footing is rocky; there are narrow ledges with exposure to heights. Spur trails lead to Partition and Navajo Arches. Dark Angel is one-half mile (0.8 km) farther. Trail guide available at trailhead.|
|Fiery Furnace||The Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins. There are no marked trails. Visitors who want to explore the Fiery Furnace must obtain a hiking permit at the visitor center (fee charged) and watch a minimum impact video. All groups are encouraged to sign up for a ranger guided hike. See below.|
Fiery Furnace Ranger Guided Hikes
Ranger-guided hikes in the Fiery Furnace section are a true family adventure. Reservations for this hike must be made in the visitor's center and a fee is charged. These 2.5 to 3 hour hikes are moderately strenuous, requiring the occasional use of hands to scramble through narrow cracks and along narrow ledges. Visitors are encouraged to accompany a ranger for safety and to reduce impacts. In order to visit the Fiery Furnace without a ranger, visitors must obtain a permit (fee charged) at the visitor center. Group size is limited, and these popular walks often fill a day or two in advance. Make your reservation and pay your fee at the visitor center up to seven days in advance of the walk for groups of no more than ten people. Larger groups can request a special tour by contacting the park; a minimum of four weeks notice is advised.
Other Guided Walks
Rangers also lead easy, one-hour walks each day at different locations throughout the park. Evening Programs Join a ranger at the Devils Garden campground amphitheater (next to Canyon Wren group campsite and across the road from campsite #25) nightly. Programs last about forty-five minutes. A current schedule is available at the Arches Visitor Center.
Arches National Park is a paradise for photographers. Under conditions of constantly changing light, the red rock landscape provides limitless photographic opportunities.
Often, the difference between an average photograph and an exceptional photograph is good lighting. Low sun angles at sunrise and sunset can add brilliant color to the red rock. Scattered clouds can also add depth to an image and a passing storm can provide extremely dramatic lighting.
Below are some of the best times to photograph the major features at Arches National Park:
|Early Morning||Late Afternoon|
|Moab Fault||Park Avenue|
|The Three Gossips||Courthouse Towers|
|Sheep Rock||Petrified Dunes|
|The Great Wall||Balanced Rock|
|Turret Arch||The Garden of Eden|
|The Spectacles||North and South Windows|
|Double Arch||Delicate Arch|
|Cache Valley||Fiery Furnace|
|Wolfe Ranch||Skyline Arch|
|Landscape Arch||Fins in Devil Garden|
|Double O Arch||Tower Arch|
In Arches, bicycles are permitted only on roads: there is no single track or trail riding within the park. Use caution when biking on the main road. Please ride single file and stay to the edge of the lane. Many of the dirt roads are sandy or washboarded; however, the Willow Springs road offers an enjoyable two to three hour ride. More information is available in bike guides sold at the visitor center.
The rock at Arches offers excellent climbing opportunities, despite its sandy nature. Most climbing routes in the park require advanced techniques. Permits are not required, unless the trip involves an overnight stay in the backcountry. It the responsibility of all climbers to know and obey park regulations and route closures. This information is available at the visitor center. Rock climbing guides to Arches and the surrounding area are also available at the visitor center.