Your visit to Arches National Park will be the highlight of your Utah trip. The park showcases some of the most impressive natural arches you’ll ever see and some of the best in the US.
But just a heads up, there are more than 2,000 arches to see. To be honest, you’re probably only going to see a handful – if that many. But the ones you do see will be the most famous in the park.
Let’s explore some of the best arches to see and an itinerary of how to spend a few days in Arches National Park.
About Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of Utah’s most visited national Parks with over one million visitors. It’s home to the largest collection of natural arches in the United States. Visit to hike around the desert landscape to discover the awe-inspiring formations.
Located just outside of Moab, the park holds more than 2,000 documented arches. Some of the iconic arches are Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and the Double Arch. There are also archaeological sites from past civilizations who lived in the region.
The park offers two viewing experiences – taking the Arches scenic drive or hiking for an up-close view of the arches. Other popular activities include biking, camping, backpacking, and dark sky watching.
With so many arches, it can be hard to decide what to add to your must-see list. The good news is that you can fit many arches into the same day.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best things to do for your Arches National Park itinerary.
Day One – Middle Region
The middle region of the Arches National Park has many of the most famous arches that are a must-see for a one day itinerary. You’ll get to see the most iconic arch and other features when hiking around. Spend the first day in the middle region so that you can hike to many nearby landmarks without having to go too far.
Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in the park. It’s the main highlight for visitors – the best times to see it is for sunrise or sunset. Wake up early to reach the Delicate Arch parking lot that marks the start of a three-mile hike. You’ll hike in the dark, so be sure to have your map. There will also be several other hikers making the trek.
The hike to Delicate Arch is well marked and has a slight elevation. Time your visit to arrive just as the sun is rising. It’s one of the most scenic views in the park. There is always a line waiting to take photos, so be patient. Don’t forget to walk around the arch for different perspectives.
When you finish at Delicate Arch, you can hike to some of the other notable arches in the region. Double Arch and Turret Arch are part of the Windows Section of the park with the highest concentration of arches in a short radius. It’s just a short walk to see multiple arches all within one hike.
It’s a scenic road driving to the next destination where you can see many landmarks in the middle region, like the famous Balanced Rock.
An alternative is saving the hike to Delicate Arch until the end to arrive in time for the sunset.
Day Two – Upper Region
You’ll get to explore an entirely new region of the park on your second day. Travel to the park’s northern region to discover some of the many arches. It’s full of short hikes to see the landmarks, so if you’re up for a lot of walking, it’s a great place to be. Many of the best arches are visible from the road, but the hike gives the best views.
You will spend most of the day in a section called Devil’s Garden. Devil’s Garden is a scenic area in Arches that has several arches worth visiting. There is a main Devils Garden Trail that includes many of the best arches like Landscape Arch, Wall Arch, and Pine Tree Arch. Other trails take you to the Broken Arch, Skyline Arch, and Sand Dune Arch.
You can stay on the main loop trail or explore some of the individual trails for better looks at your favorite arches.
One of the highlights in the area is Landscape Arch. It’s the park’s longest natural arch, stretching over 300-ft long. Visit the arch while you can because it’s not expected to last forever. A large section fell from the arch in recent years, and more is expected at any time.
The hike to Landscape Arch is approximately a 1.5-mile round trip and an easy trek suitable for anyone.
Next, you can make the hike to Double O Arch if you’re up for the challenge. It’s much more difficult and is approximately a 4-mile roundtrip hike. Reaching the arch is worth it to see a unique formation of two openings. There won’t be as many people as other arches because of the long hike to the site.
Day Three – Lower Region
The upper and mid regions in Arches National Park feature many of the most famous arches. While the arches are the park’s main attraction, there are several other natural landmarks to admire during your time there.
The main entrance to the national park is located in the lower region. It’s easy to enter and drive right to the arches, but there are plenty of things to see and do near the entrance that you don’t want to miss. There are no major arches, but you’ll still encounter unique rock formations along the drive and hikes.
One of the first trails accessible in the park is the Park Avenue Trailhead. It’s one of the easiest hikes for all ages. It’s a one-mile trek (and you return the same way). The hike takes you down into the canyon, where you’ll have contrasting views of the red Earth, green pine bushes, and blue sky. It’s a very scenic hike and a great way to see the landscape.
The trail includes famous rock formations like the Courthouse Towers, the Three Gossips, and Queen Nefertiti.
Stop by some of the popular viewpoints like the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint. It’s one of the best places to see the Petrified Dunes landmark with beautiful views of the distant snow-capped mountains.
If you have a shorter time to visit, you can see many of the sites along a scenic drive en route to other regions in the park.
Day Four – Near Arches National Park
You can’t end a visit to Arches National Park without visiting some of the nearby arches outside the park entrance. The good news is that you won’t need a park permit to see incredible arches. If you’re staying in the Moab area, it’s great to include a few during your trip.
Corona Arch is one of the biggest arches, but surprisingly not within Arches National Park. It’s a popular detour trip for visitors since it’s located adjacent to the park. Park your car and get ready for the Corona Arch Trail. The hike is approximately a 3-mile round trip and is relatedly moderate conditions.
The hike takes you to the massive rock that holds the Corona Arch, Bowtie Arch, and Pinto Arch. The arches are some of the most unique you’ll find near Moab. Another nearby arch away from the main trail is the Longbow Arch.
Since the arches are located outside the park, they don’t get as crowded. While visiting early is always best for a better chance of no people, it’s not uncommon to be one of the only ones there taking photos. It makes it one of the best photo spots to capture the arch formations and see the views of the dark sky at night.
Tips For Visiting Arches National Park
Arches National Park is an exciting destination to see naturally formed rock arches. There are a few things to know before you visit. Check out some of these insider tips on making the most of your park visit:
Arrive early. Expect crowds on all of the popular trails. The best way to move at your own pace and have uninterrupted photo opportunities is by getting to the landmark early, or right below it closes.
Bring water. You’re essentially hiking through the desert when you visit the National park. There are many areas along the hiking trails that don’t have any shade so it can get very hot in the midday sun.
Use caution. The natural environment is constantly changing and eroding. Stay on the designated paths to avoid cautionary parts of the park.
Come prepared. If you’re planning to do a lot of hiking in Arches National Park, be sure to have appropriate footwear. Also, it helps to keep a map handy – trails are well marked, but it’s always good to have a backup. Drop by the visitor center when you arrive for updated information about the park for the day.
Best Time to Visit
Arches National Park is open all year long. The best time to plan your trip is from late spring or early fall, when you’ll have ideal weather for hiking the trails.
A lot of your experience in Arches depends on the weather. The summer is the busiest travel time at the park. It’s when the crowds are biggest at the landmarks and trails.
Prices for accommodations and tours are generally more expensive during the summer.
Winter is also a great time to visit the park. The snow-covered arches are a unique sight. Keep in mind any trail closures or advisory warnings.
How Long to Stay in Arches National Park?
It will take multiple visits to see all of the 2,000 arches in Arches National Park, so don’t expect to see them all in one trip. The park requires an entrance fee for admission, which is good for seven days. That’s more than enough time to fit everything in.
Most people spend one or two days in Arches National Park. It’s plenty of time to visit all of the famous arches and even a chance to hike the trails.
Many of the sites in Arches are accessible by driving on the main road, so it’s easy to navigate.
I hope that the itinerary gives you some ideas on maximizing your time in Arches National Park. Be sure to check out some of the other nearby destinations including Canyonlands National Park or the Dead Horse Point State Park.
Have you already been to the park? Let me know in the comments what was your favorite arch.
If you’re ready to book your trip, check out the resources below. Make sure to shop around between the different platform to compare prices and find the deal
- Airbnb – I’ve always had a great experience with airbnb. Make sure to check the reviews and the final price before booking.