Last Updated: 8/23/21 – Comprehensive Arches National Park Guide
There are a lot of incredibly beautiful landscapes in Southern Utah, with its amazing canyons and stunning red rock formations. The area is home to five of America’s most popular national parks, which attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. One of the most unique and beautiful of these parks is undoubtedly the famed Arches National Park, near the city of Moab.
If you are planning a trip to the Moab area and would like to visit Arches National Park, then you are in luck. In this Arches National Park guide, I am going to provide you will all of the information that you will need to plan a memorable trip to see the Delicate Arch and all of the other wonderous rock formations that this park has to offer. In this guide, I outline what times of year are best for visiting Arches National Park, what to see and do during your visit, where to stay, and what to plan for when you arrive.
How to Get There
Arches National Park is located in the eastern part of southern Utah. If you are planning on flying to visit Arches National Park, your best bets are to either fly into Las Vegas, Nevada or Salt Lake City, Utah and then drive to the park. Arches National Park is located in close proximity to the city of Moab, Utah, which is a great place to use as your base as you explore the area. If you are starting to plan your trip and would like to know the travel time between some of the larger cities in the area and the park, I would suggest reviewing the map I have included in my Arches National Park guide below.
Best Time to Visit
The best time for you to visit Arches National Park is ultimately going to depend on what you want to do when you are there. Spring (April thru May) and Fall (September thru October) are the most temperate times of the year in Southern Utah. You’ll get T-shirt weather and will avoid the extreme heat and occasional floods in summer, and the possibility of snow in the winter.
However, Spring and Fall are also the busy season for the park, so if you are visiting to do photography, go camping, or do some mountain biking, be prepared to deal with crowds.
If you do decide to visit in the Summer, make sure you always carry more water than you think you will need. It can get very hot in the summer and it is very easy to underestimate the amount of water you will need on a hike. If you decide to visit in the winter, make sure you bring adequate clothing. Arches National Park sits on an elevated plateau and it can get quite cold in the winter. I would suggest bringing layers because the weather can often be unpredictable.
Average Temperature (°F)
Because of its location, Arches National Park can get quite hot during the summer months and rather chilly during the winter months. Before planning your trip to see Arches National Park, take into account the monthly temperature averages listed below.
As you can see by the chart I have included in my Arches National Park guide below, the summer months of June thru August can be very hot, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t like hot temperatures, you should avoid visiting during these months. During the winter months of November thru February, the temperatures can be quite chilly, especially at night. This can put a damper on your vacation if you don’t like cooler temperatures.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
Nothing can ruin an adventure vacation quicker than bad weather. Before you start planning your trip to Arches National Park, you should understand which months see the highest average rainfall and which see the lowest. This will help you reduce the chances of rain putting a damper on your vacation.
The area doesn’t get a whole lot of rain annually, but there are a few months that do get a fair amount of rain. This is especially true for the month of October, which sees over an inch of rain on average every year. For more information on the amount of rainfall to expect in the area throughout the year, please refer to the chart that I have included in my Arches National Park guide below.
Average Visitors (1000 visitors Per Day)
Another variable that may play a factor in when you decide to visit Arches National Park are the crowds. Depending on the month of the year that you visit, and what you want to see in the park, there may be significant crowds at the park. This is especially true for the infamous Delicate Arch hike.
The chart below will give you a sense of which months of the year see the most visitors to Arches National Park. I pulled this data for the 2017 season and the chart represents the number of thousands of visitors the park saw each month.
Other Things to See in the Area
There are a ton of things to see and do in the area surrounding Arches National Park. If you are starting to plan your trip to Southern Utah and would like some suggestions on what else to see during your stay, I have included a list of other destinations that I would strongly recommend in my Arches National Park guide below.
The closest city to Canyonlands National Park is the city of Moab, Utah, which sits just 30 miles to the Northeast and is just a 35-minute drive away from the park. There is a wealth of things to do inside and around the city of Moab, including Arches National Park (which sits just outside of the city limits). This makes Moab an ideal place to look for accommodations and use as a base camp as you explore the area.
I have included a list of fun activities inside and around the city of Moab that you can consider when visiting. Like I said, there really is a wealth of fun things to do in the area. These are just some of the many amazing adventures you can find on TripAdvisor.
- Arches National Park 4×4 Adventure from Moab
- Fisher Towers Half-Day Rafting Day Trip from Moab
- Moab Daytime Jet Boat Tour on the Colorado River
- Half-Day Guided Mountain Biking Tour in Moab on Dead Horse
- Introductory Mountain Biking Adventure in Moab Courthouse
- Flat water Fun (Paddelboarding)
- Moab Canyoneering Adventure
Where to Stay
If you reserve a spot far enough in advance, you can get a camp spot at the Devil’s Garden Campground inside Arches National Park. However, even if you don’t get a spot to camp inside the park, there are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in the area to choose from. If you are looking for a campground or accommodations in the Moab area for your trip, I have included several recommended options at various price-points below for you to review.
Top Things To See and Do
There is a lot to do in Arches National Park and the surrounding area. One of my favorite things to do in any park, but especially in Arches, is hiking. There are plenty of great hiking trails to take advantage of in the park. Again, just make sure you have enough water when you set out. I cannot emphasize this enough.
I have also included some great resources below where you can find more information about the parks.
The Moab, Utah area is a huge mountain biking region, so biking enthusiasts flock to Moab every year to test their skills in the region. Keep in mind that bikes are not permitted on the trails inside the park, but you can your bike on the roads inside the park and there are plenty of trails available to explore in the surrounding area.
The most iconic image of Arches, and one of the most iconic images of the American West and our National Parks in general, Delicate Arch is an absolute must-see for visitors to Arches National Park.
If you aren’t into hiking, the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint is just a short hike (100 yards) off the park road and can give you some nice perspectives of the arch.
However, if you want to get up-close to the arch to get close shot (such as the picture above), you will need to hike roughly 3 miles up to the arch. The trail has 480 feet of elevation (see picture below) and it is recommended that you bring 2 liters of water per person.
The Fiery Furnace is another absolute must-see for all visitors to Arches National Park. It consists of an amazing collection of narrow sandstone canyons, natural arches, and other rock formations. While the view from the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint (see below) is amazing in its own right, I would definitely recommend getting close-up by doing some hiking.
Keep in mind, there are no trails into the Fiery Furnace. It is a labyrinth of canyons that can only be accessed by either taking a ranger-guided hike or obtaining a day-use permit from the visitor center. It requires doing a bit of planning, but it is well worth it.
If you are an inexperienced hiker, I would absolutely recommend the ranger-led hikes. I have done quite a bit of hiking in my life and I found the ranger-guided hike to be both informative and fun.
This is one of my favorite features inside Arches National Park. It may not get the fame that Delicate Arch gets, but it an equally impressive rock formation in my opinion. If you haven’t visited Arches National Park and gotten a chance to see this arch, I wouldn’t put it off too long. The arch is delicate and there is no telling how long this arch will last.
There are a few great viewpoints in which to view this arch. The Lower Landscape Arch Viewpoint has a great view of the arch, and is only a short hike (100 yards) from the park road, but in order to get a really good look at this arch, I would strongly recommend making the 3-mile hike to the Upper Landscape Arch Viewpoint. Though again, make sure you bring plenty of water. It is recommended that each person carry at least 2 liters of water on this hike.
The Windows section of Arches National Park is considered by many to be the heart of the park because of the number of natural arches concentrated in the area and the beauty of the scenery. The arches in this section include Turret Arch, North Window (pictured below), South Window, Double Arch (also pictured below), Cove Arch, and Ribbon Arch.
If you are up for some hiking, I would suggest the Windows (1 mile) and Double Arch (half-mile) Trails. These are fairly easy hikes and the views are pretty incredible.
Accessible by using the Devil’s Garden trail, the Tunnel Arch is one of the most visited features in Arches National Park. The Devil’s Garden trail is a relatively easy hike with very little elevation change, so it is one of the more popular hikes in the park. It is a 7.2-mile loop, but the hike can be tailored to fit your needs and ability. Along the trail you will pass 7 natural arches, there is a lot of payoff for little effort with this hike.
- Tunnel Arch 0.4miles
- Pine Tree Arch 0.5 miles
- Landscape Arch 1.6 miles
- Partition Arch 2 miles
- Navajo Arch 2 miles
- Double O Arch 2.3 miles
- Dark Angel 2.5 miles
- Private Arch
Park Avenue is one of the first features you will see when entering the park, and it is pretty hard to miss. Named after New York City’s famous street, the rock spires look a lot like skyscrapers. The contrast between the red rock spires and the blue sky is breathtaking. If you want to get closer, the Park Avenue trail is a moderate 2-mile hike that will take you into the canyon towards the Courthouse Towers.
One of the most popular features within Arches National Park, Balanced Rock appears to be defying gravity as it balances upon a pedestal of mudstone. Accessible via the Balanced Rock trail, which is a 0.3-mile paved loop, it is one of the easier features to reach and one of the only features that is clearly visible from the park road.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
If you have the time, I would highly recommend exploring Arches National Park and the surrounding area by balloon. The view from above is absolutely breathtaking. I used a company called Canyonlands Ballooning and they were fantastic. Balloon rides take off early in the morning and last about an hour. Pricing is $279\person in the low season and $299\person in the high season (mid-May to mid-September).
The balloon ride takes you up-and-over Arches National Park, giving you a really cool perspective of the landscape. I was able to get this really cool picture of Delicate Arch from above (see below) from the hot air balloon. It was a ride of a lifetime and I absolutely recommend it if you have the time.
Arches National Park is one of the United States’ most popular and most beautiful national parklands. When you visit, it is really hard to not get a bunch of amazing photographs. If you are interested, I have included a gallery of some of my favorite pictures from Arches National Park below.
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