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Arches National Park

Arches National Park

The world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches.

Introduction

Located just 5 miles (8 km) north of Moab is Arches National Park, which contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. Although over 2,000 arches are located within the park’s 76,518 acres, the park also contains an astounding variety of other geological formations. Colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and spires dwarf visitors as they explore the park’s viewpoints and hiking trails. A paved scenic drive takes visitors to many of the major viewpoints within the park. The park’s rock formations delight children as well as adults, with many easy trails providing opportunities for kids to get out of the car and explore the arches up close. Hikers can choose from a wide variety of trails, from short twenty minute walks leading right up to many of the largest arches in the park, to more adventurous hikes into lesser seen areas.
Distance from Moab
5 miles (8km)
Directions from Moab
The entrance of Arches is located 5 miles (8km) north of Moab, along highway 191.
Park Hours
Arches National Park is normally open year-round, 24 hours a day. The park is very busy between March and October. To avoid traffic, we recommend entering the park before 8 am or after 3 pm.
Entrance Fee
$30/vehicle – Good for 7 days. (Subject to change.)
Visitor Center & Hours
The visitor center includes interactive exhibits, educational kiosks, a 150-seat auditorium, and a bookstore featuring guide books, maps, DVD’s, postcards, and much more. The park is open 24 hours/day, 365 days/year; however the visitor center hours vary by season. (435) 719-2299

TWITTER

WEBCAM 1

WEBCAM 2


This is the latest Twitter feed from Arches National Park. During busy times this is a great source of information relating to park closure information.

Winter Sunset at Delicate Arch
The Three Gossips at Arches National Park
Arches National Park

Timed Entry

New: Arches National Park is implementing a temporary, timed entry reservation system for visits between April 3 and October 3, 2022. Reservations are not required before April 3, 2022.

Visitors can now book reservations first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov. The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks. On January 3, reservations will open for April 3 through April 30. On February 1, reservations will open for the month of May and any remaining reservations that have not been booked for April. Additional months will continue the same pattern according to following schedule:

  • April reservations (April 3–30) open January 3.

  • May reservations (May 1–31) open February 1.

  • June reservations (June 1–30) open March 1.

  • July reservations (July 1–31) open April 1.

  • August reservations (August 1–31) open May 1.

  • September reservations (September 1–30) open June 1.

  • October reservations (October 1–3) open July 1.

After booking a reservation, visitors will receive a Timed Entry Ticket. Timed entry tickets will be required to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will allow visitors to enter the park during a one-hour specified window of availability. After entering, visitors may stay in the park as long as they wish for the remainder of the day. Reservation holders may exit and re-enter the park on the same day with a correctly validated ticket.

For those without early reservations, a limited number of additional reservations will be available for purchase at 6 p.m. MDT the day before entry through Recreation.gov. Reservations must be purchased online at recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777 before entering the park and will not be available at the park entrance. Timed entry reservations will not be required for those with camping permits, backcountry permits, Fiery Furnace permits, special use permits, concessions contracts, or commercial use authorizations. All reservations are expected to sell out quickly, and visitors are encouraged to plan ahead.

Arches National Park Timed Entry System

How do I reserve a Timed Entry Ticket?

Visitors must make a Recreation.gov account in advance of purchasing a Timed Entry Ticket.

Reservations will be available online through Recreation.gov (recommended) or:

Reservations will not be available at park entrance stations or park offices.


Suggested Activities

A Few Hours
Drive the 36 mile (58km) round trip Scenic Drive.
1/2 Day
Drive the Scenic Drive and hike some of the easy short trails in the park, such as the Park Avenue Trail and 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 Double O Arch, Tower Arch, Delicate Arch, and Landscape Arch.
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.

Camping

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 RVs up to 30 feet in length.Telephone and on-line reservations for both group and individual sites may be made through recreation.gov. Reservations are not accepted by the park, and the park does not maintain information about site availability.

  • Individual Sites: You can reserve standard campsites up to 6 months in advance for stays March 1-October 31. All sites are usually reserved months in advance. Between November 1 and February 28, sites are first-come, first-served. Facilities include drinking water, picnic tables, grills, and both pit-style and flush toilets. You can reserve campsites for nights between March 1 and October 31. Between November 1 and February 28, all sites are first-come, first served. Phone and online reservations for both group and individual sites must be made through recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. You can make reservations for standard sites no fewer than four days and no more than 6 months in advance. The fee per night for an individual Devils Garden campsite i $25. Group size is limited to 10 people and 2 vehicles.
  • Group Sites: Group sites can be reserved up to 12 months in advance. The campground has two sites for groups of 11 or more people. Juniper Basin campsite accommodates up to 55 people and is available March 1 to October 31; Canyon Wren campsite accommodates up to 35 and may be reserved year-round. No RVs or trailers are permitted in the group sites.
Campsites are usually reserved months in advance during the busy season (March-October). If you have not reserved a site prior to arrival at the park during these months, plan on utilizing other camping options in the Moab area. There are no services inside Arches National Park. The nearest place to get food, gas, and supplies is Moab, approximately 45-60 minutes’ drive from the campground.

Food

Please note that food is not available within the park. The closest restaurants are either in the town of Moab, at Dead Horse Point State Park, or at the dinosaur museum at the intersection of Highways 191 and 313 (entrance fee is not required to access the restaurant).

Park Highlights

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch

People come from all over the world to visit Arches National Park, and visiting Delicate Arch is on the top of many visitors’ to-do lists. In a park with over 2,000 stone arches, this particular free-standing arch has become a widely recognized symbol of the state of Utah and one of the most famous geologic features in the world. The light opening beneath the arch is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park.
Learn More About Delicate Arch Hiking Trail

Balanced Rock in Arches National Park

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

A short paved trail leads visitors to the base of Balanced Rock. The landform’s total height is 128 feet, with the huge balanced rock rising 55 feet above its base.

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

The longest natural rock span in the world, this arch’s opening is 306 feet wide – 6 feet longer than a football field. A nine story building would easily fit beneath this thin span. In 1991, a massive slab of rock fell from its underside, resulting in an even thinner ribbon of rock.

Wildflowers in Arches National Park

Spring Wildflowers

Spring Wildflowers

April and May bring a variety of desert wildflowers to Arches.

Double Arch in Arches National Park

Double Arch

Double Arch

Located in the Windows Section of Arches National Park, Double Arch was used as a backdrop for portions of the 1988 movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Numerous other movies have been filmed in Arches National Park, including Thelma and Louise in 1991.

Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park

Park Avenue

Park Avenue

From Park Avenue parking area, the trail descends steeply into a spectacular canyon and continues down the wash to Courthouse Towers. If you have a shuttle driver, you can begin at one point and be picked up at the other. For round-trip hiking, retrace your steps along the trail rather than walk along the park road.

Arches National Park in Winter

Arches in Winter

Arches in Winter

Winter brings a blanket of pristine snow to Arches, providing dramatic contrast to the surrounding red rocks.

Hiking in Arches National Park

Family Hiking

Family Hiking

There are many family friendly hikes in Arches, including the hike to Turret Arch in the Windows Section.

Biological Soil Crust

Help to keep all of our trails open. Protect this fragile, but crucial, soil by remaining on designated roads, routes and trails at all times.

Biological soil crust, also known as cryptobiotic soil, is the foundation of desert plant life. This black, knobby crust is made up of many different living organisms and plays a vital role in maintaining the desert ecosystem. However, this sensitive soil is extremely fragile and can take decades to grow. Even a footstep can damage the crust for decades, having lasting impacts on the desert environment. Please stay on the trials. Help to protect this fragile life by remaining on designated roads, routes, and trails at all times. Where hiking trails are not established, hike in sandy washes or on bare rock.

Hiking

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.

Easy Trails

Name

Length

Time

Description

Balanced Rock

0.3 mi (0.5 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.

Moderate Trails

Name

Length

Time

Description

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.

Difficult Trails

Name

Length

Time

Description

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.

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)

Backcountry Permits

The park’s backcountry is mostly rough terrain, inaccessible by established trails with very limited water sources. While Arches National Park is known for its outstanding geologic features, it also contains irreplaceable cultural resources and sensitive high desert ecosystems. Water is rarely available in the backcountry; plan to carry all you need. Primary safety considerations include steep terrain, loose rock, lightning, flash floods, and dehydration. You must know and comply with all regulations.

You must have a permit for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Backpacking permits are no longer issued at Arches Visitor Center. We now issue permits in person at the Backcountry Permit Office two miles south of Moab up to seven days before the trip start date and up to 4:00 PM MST. Each permit is limited to seven people, three nights per campsite, for a total of seven nights. Permits cost $7 per person.

NPS Backcountry Permit Office
2282 SW Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532

Electric Bicycles (e-bikes)

On August 30, 2019 the National Park Service announced a new electric bicycle (e-bike) policy for national parks, expanding recreational opportunities and accessibility. The policy supports Secretary’s Order 3376, signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on August 29, 2019, that directs Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the Department.

Beginning October 1, 2019, visitors to Southeast Utah Group parks (Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments) will be allowed to use e-bikes where traditional bicycles are allowed. Bicycles and e-bikes are allowed on paved and unpaved roads that are open to the public. Bicycles and e-bikes are not allowed on any trails in the parks.

There are no charging stations in the parks. Generators are not allowed in the backcountry. This change in e-bike policy applies to private and commercial use in the parks.

The National Park Service announcement and the agency’s new e-bike policy are available online at www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/ebikepolicy.htm.

Commercial Tours

The following Moab companies offer commercial tours in Arches National Park:

Business

Phone

Type of Tour

Adrift Adventures

435-259-8594

Van/bus tours departing 3 times per day, full & half day backcountry 4×4 tours

Canyonlands Field Institute

800-860-5262

Sunset tour with short hikes

Deep Desert Expeditions

435-259-1565

Guided Hiking in Arches and Canyonlands

Desert Highlights

435-259-4433

Guided Hiking in Arches and Canyonlands

Dreamride

435-259-6419

Guided Hiking in Arches and Canyonlands

JG Outfitters

612-860-9700

Guided Tours and Hiking in Arches and Canyonlands

Moab Adventure Center

888-622-4097

Arches bus tours

Navtec Expeditions

800-833-1278

Front and back country tours available

Plateau Restoration

435-259-7733

Van tour with optional hikes

Red Rock Express

800-259-2869

Front country scenic tours

Tom Till Tours

435-259-5327

Photography tours in Arches and Canyonlands

Windgate Adventures

435-260-9802

Photography tours in Arches and Canyonlands

Photography

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.
Canyonlands Photography Canyonlands Photography
Canyonlands Photography Canyonlands Photography

Photographing Delicate Arch

Over one million people visit Arches National Park every year, and just about everyone wants to see all of the major views within the park. One of the most heavily visited arches is Delicate Arch. As a result of its popularity, you should always expect to see people surrounding this world famous arch. Although it may occasionally happen, it is unrealistic to expect a solitary experience around Delicate Arch. Be courteous to other visitors during your visit to the arch, and do not expect people to move away from this world famous landmark during your photographs. Remember that not everyone who visits this arch is a photographer. Most people simply want to experience the joy of standing next to such a beautiful landmark. People can add scale to any photo of Delicate Arch, so make your visit a great shared experience for everyone involved. Delicate Arch Photographers

Try not to limit your creativity by simply capturing images of iconic places using the same composition as countless photographers before you. Arches National Park contains thousands of arches and vast expanses of breathtaking scenery just waiting for you to introduce your own personal style and interpretation. For those seeking solitude, Arches has much to offer beyond its iconic places. For example, consider a hike to Double O Arch, returning via the Primitive Trail, for some of the most spectacular scenery in the park. Just remember to bring enough memory cards to capture all of the great views!

Best Times / Locations to Photograph

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 (at end of main trail)
Cache Valley Fiery Furnace
Wolfe Ranch Skyline Arch
Landscape Arch Fins in Devil Garden
Double O Arch Tower Arch
Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park


Arches National Park

for Children and Families

Arches is a great family park. From the Visitor Center with its interpretive exhibits, orientation video and animal statues at the Visitor Center, to the rock formations, the Park will delight kids as well as adults, and hiking trails provide many opportunities for children to get out of the car and explore the arches up close.

Kid-Friendly Hikes

The following hikes are easy and safe hikes that will give kids a chance to stretch their legs and burn off energy.

Sand Dune Arch

Starting Point: Sand Dune Arch parking area (approximately 16 miles from entrance to park)
Length: 0.4 mile (0.6 km) round trip
Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Trail leads kids through a short slot-type canyon to a secluded arch among sandstone fins where they will find sand pouring in to a natural sandbox beneath.

The Windows

Starting Point: Windows parking area (11.7 miles from entrance)
Length: 1 mile (1.6 km) round trip
Time: 30 to 60 minutes

A gentle climb up a gravel loop trail leads to three massive arches (North and South Windows and Turret Arch). Kids can get right up under the arches for great photo opportunities. 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.

Balanced Rock

Starting Point: Balanced Rock Trail Head
Length: .3 mi (5. km) round trip
Time: 15-30 min

A loop trail around the base of a fragile, picturesque rock formation.

Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Starting Point: Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail Head
Length: 100 yards (91 meters) round trip
Time: 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.

Double Arch

Starting Point: Windows parking Area (11.7 miles from entrance)
Length: 0.5 mi (0.8 km) round trip
Time: 15-30 min

A relatively flat, sandy trail leads to the base of two giant arch spans which are joined at one end.

Skyline Arch

Starting Point: Skyline Arch parking area (approximately 17 miles from entrance to park)
Length: 0.4 mile (0.6 km) round trip
Time: 10 to 20 minutes

A short hike on a flat, well-defined trail. On a cold November night in 1940, a large chunk fell out of the arch, instantly doubling the size of its opening.

Junior Ranger Program

Free Junior Ranger booklets are available at the visitor center. Filled with fun activities, these books reveal the wonders of Arches to kids and parents alike. By completing five or more exercises, participants earn a Junior Ranger badge and signed certificate. Activities are designed for ages 6 to 12.

Kids also enjoy the short interpretive talks and walks offered spring through fall. Check at the Visitor’s Center for schedule.


Accessibility in Moab

Accessible Park Trails and Facilities

Arches National Park

These areas are accessible to wheelchairs. All toilets in the park are accessible. Some trails are considered barrier free, which may contain minor obstacles, steeper grades, temporary washouts, and may require assistance. Rain and snow may cause ruts or other obstacles on the trail.

  • Park Avenue Viewpoint – Flat, paved surface to a viewpoint.
  • Balanced Rock – Flat, paved surface alongside Balanced Rock ends at a viewpoint.
  • Balanced Rock Picnic Area – Picnic area is paved. Toilets are across a gravel road. Toilets are accessible.
  • The Windows Trail – First 100 yards is flat, hardened surface and is considered barrier free. Nearby toilets, along a paved surface, are accessible.
  • Double Arch Trail – Relatively flat, hard-packed trail is considered barrier free.
  • Panorama Point – Viewpoint, picnic area, and stargazing area have paved surfaces. Toilets are accessible. Benches are available.
  • Delicate Arch Viewpoint – Viewpoint has a flat, packed gravel surface. Picnic area and sidewalks are paved. Toilets are accessible.
  • Wolfe Ranch – Path to Wolfe Ranch and petroglyph panel are flat with a gravel surface. Toilets are accessible.
  • Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater – Paved path connects parking area to the amphitheater with a view of Skyline Arch.
  • Devils Garden – Trail to Landscape Arch has a hard-packed surface and is considered barrier free, however the trail has steep slopes and may require assistance. Picnic area and trailhead have paved surfaces and accessible toilets.

Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky District

Canyonlands National Park has several areas that are accessible for people with physical or mobility disabilities. The road at Island in the Sky passes many accessible viewpoints and facilities.

Programs and Tours

  • Geology talks are offered at Grand View Point. A paved sidewalk leads from the parking lot to the program location, which is located off the sidewalk on a gravel surface. Seating on large boulders is available. Accessible toilets are nearby.
  • Rangers offer patio talks on the front porch of Island in the Sky Visitor Center. The area is paved and accessible to wheelchairs. Accessible toilets are nearby.

Campground

Island in the Sky Campground has one accessible campsite and nearby pit toilet. The campsite is reserved at all times for people with disabilities only. The campsite is paved with the exception of the tent pad, which is dirt. Paths to the toilet and campsite payment station are paved.

Trails and Facilities

These overlooks are accessible for people using a wheelchair:

  • Buck Canyon Overlook
  • Green River Overlook
  • Grand View Point Overlook
  • All toilets at Island in the Sky are accessible.

Dead Horse Point State Park

  • Wheelchair Accessible Restrooms
  • Wheelchair Accessible Visitor Center/Gift Shop with Elevator for Access to All Floors
  • Designated Wheelchair Accessible Parking Spaces
  • Wheelchair Accessible Pathways at Scenic Vistas Around Park
  • Wheelchair Accessible Viewpoint at Dead Horse Point
  • Designated Wheelchair Accessible Reservable Campsite
  • Wheelchair Accessible Day Use Pavilions
  • Wheelchair Accessible Yurt
  • Braille Astronomy Materials for Star Party and Dark Sky Program Attendees

Places like the National Ability Center can help people of all ability levels access the best of Moab’s outdoor recreational activities. Learn more about the National Ability Center at discovernac.org

State of Utah

  • If you are looking for accessible adventures throughout the state of Utah, check the Utah Office of Tourism’s Accessible Utah page.


Moab Photography

Tips for Capturing the Beauty of Red Rock Country

National Parks Photographer Frank Lee Ruggles talks about photographing the Moab area, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dead Horse Point State Park. Presented in stunning 4K!

Introduction

The Moab area is a paradise for photographers. Under conditions of constantly changing light, Moab’s red rock landscapes provide limitless photographic opportunities. Often, the difference between an average photograph and an exceptional photograph, is good lighting.

Evening light paints the rock with colors much more vivid and rich than would be seen in the middle of the day.

Lighting

The right time of day can make all of the difference when it comes to photography in the Moab area. Certainly the best time of day for photography is during sunrise or sunset, when the red rocks seem to glow with intense color. However, since you can’t be everywhere at the same time, simply avoiding the flat light on cloudless days between 10:00 am & 3:00 pm will go a long way toward getting some great shots. With all of our amazing rock formations, a lower sun angle can add real depth to your photos. If you absolutely must take photos during midday, try slightly underexposing your red rock photos by 1/3rd to 2/3rd of a stop. (Many cameras have exposure compensation buttons that allow you to easily do this.) Our red sandstone is darker than it may appear to the naked eye and cameras tend to overexpose it in bright light.

Clouds – A Utah Photographer’s Best Friend

Dramatic cloud formations, along with the shadows that they cast, can add real depth to a photograph. If the sky has scattered clouds, just about any time of day is great for photography around Moab. If you are lucky enough to be here during a passing storm, count your blessings!

Stormy weather almost always results in great photos. Our vast panoramic views are truly spectacular when a sunbeam bursts out of a cloud. In addition, the color of sandstone can really intensify when it is wet.

A passing storm as seen from the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint in Arches National Park

An overlook provides the perfect vista for a breathtaking photo.

Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park

Low sun angles at sunrise and sunset add tremendous color and depth to the views from the Island in the Sky. Because of the vast distances seen at the overlooks, morning views often have calm atmospheric conditions and thus have less haze than late day views. Scattered clouds, and the shadows that they cast, can also add depth to any image. Passing storms often provide extremely dramatic lighting as well.

Arches National Park

Arches gives you the most photographic flexibility of any park in southeastern Utah. Good photographs are possible at just about any time of the day. Because you will be wandering around many colossal sandstone formations, you can usually find to find a good angle for lighting. Pay attention to shadows, since these are what will add depth and interest to your photos.

View of the La Sal Mountains from the Windows Section of Arches National Park during sunset.

Time of Day

When the sun angles become very low, there are some preferred locations in the park. Below are the best times to photograph some of the major features in Arches:

EARLY MORNING
  • Moab Fault
  • The Three Gossips
  • Sheep Rock
  • The Great Wall
  • Turret Arch
  • The Spectacles
  • Double Arch
  • Cache Valley
  • Wolfe Ranch
  • Landscape Arch
  • Double O Arch
LATE AFTERNOON
  • Park Avenue
  • Courthouse Towers
  • Petrified Dunes
  • Balanced Rock
  • The Garden of Eden
  • The Windows
  • Tower Arch
  • Fiery Furnace
  • Skyline Arch
  • Fins in Devils Garden
  • Delicate Arch (at end of main trail)

Delicate Arch – Not Just for Photographers

Over one million people visit Arches National Park every year, and just about everyone wants to see all of the major views within the park. One of the most heavily visited arches is Delicate Arch. As a result of its popularity, you should always expect to see people surrounding this world famous arch. Although it may occasionally happen, it is unrealistic to expect a solitary experience around Delicate Arch. Be courteous to other visitors during your visit to the arch, and do not expect people to move away from this world famous landmark during your photographs. Remember that not everyone who visits this arch is a photographer. Most people simply want to experience the joy of standing next to such a beautiful landmark. People can add scale to any photo of Delicate Arch, so make your visit a great shared experience for everyone involved.

Try not to limit your creativity by simply capturing images of iconic places using the same composition as countless photographers before you. Arches National Park contains thousands of arches and vast expanses of breathtaking scenery just waiting for you to introduce your own personal style and interpretation. For those seeking solitude, Arches has much to offer. For example, consider a hike to Double O Arch, returning via the Primitive Trail, for some of the most spectacular scenery in the park. Just remember to bring enough memory cards to capture all of the great views!

Read more…

Delicate Arch is one of the most photographed of Utah’s natural wonders.

Autumn Foliage

View of the La Sal Mountains from the Windows Section of Arches National Park during sunset.

One of the best places to view autumn foliage in the Moab area is in the La Sal Mountains, located approximately 20 miles south of town. Foliage usually starts to change in mid-September and continues into early October. The La Sal Mountain Loop Road is the easiest way to view the foliage change.

The La Sal Mountain Loop Road, suitable for all passenger cars and RV’s, features a wide variety of canyon country scenery. The 60-mile route begins by following the Colorado River along Highway 128. It then approaches the La Sal Mountains via Castle Valley. The route through the Manti-La Sal National Forest offers great views of the 12,000 foot plus peaks and the red rock canyons far below. Completion of the loop brings the motorist back to Moab via U. S. Highway 191.

Read more…

Picturing Moab

From ancient images to modern pursuits, getting drawn in to Moab. Read more…


Moab 360