Arches National Park
The world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches.
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.
Open year-round, 24 hours/day
$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
A Few Hours
Drive the 36 mile (58km) round trip Scenic Drive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
April and May bring a variety of desert wildflowers to Arches.
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.
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 in Winter
Arches in Winter
Winter brings a blanket of pristine snow to Arches, providing dramatic contrast to the surrounding red rocks.
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.
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.
0.3 mi (0.5 km) Round Trip
A loop trail around the base of a fragile, picturesque rock formation.
1.2 mi (2 km) Round Trip or 2 mi (3.2 km) with loop
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
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
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.
0.5 mi (0.8 km) round trip
A relatively flat, sandy trail leads to the base of two giant arch spans which are joined at one end.
2 mi (3.2 km) round trip
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
Trail leads through deep sand to a secluded arch among sandstone fins. Kids love the sand!
0.4 mi (0.6 km) round trip
A short hike on a flat, well-defined trail.
1 mi (1.6 km) round trip
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.
1 mi (1.6 km) one way
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.
3.4 mi (5.6 km) round trip
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.
Devils Garden Primitive Loop
7.2 mi (11.5 km) round trip
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
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.
3 mi (4.8 km) round trip
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)
Electronic 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.
The following Moab companies offer commercial tours in Arches National Park:
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.
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.
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
|The Three Gossips
|The Great Wall
||The Garden of Eden
||North and South Windows
||Delicate Arch (at end of main trail)
||Fins in Devil Garden
|Double O Arch