Hiking Utah’s red rock country is a must for any adventure lover!
While there are countless scenic trails and vistas in southwest Utah, one of the best places to start exploring this region is Arches National Park.
Located just outside of Moab, Utah’s adventure capital Arches National Park has become one of the most popular national parks in the United States in recent years. There are many easy-to-moderate hikes at Arches National Park that are suited well for experienced and beginner hikers alike. And third, the scenery at Arches is so spectacular!
This national park boasts over 2,000 sandstone arches – the highest concentration in the world! While a number of these arches have been put on the map, many of them are yet to be discovered. Although Delicate Arch has become one of the most recognized landmarks of this national park – as well as entire Utah, there’s so much more to this place with striking landscapes that feature towers, spires, and “fins.”
Renting a car for your trip
If you want to explore some of the best hikes at Arches National Park as well as other national parks in Utah, you will need a vehicle.
Whether you decide to rent an RV or a regular car depends entirely on your plans. If you are looking for an RV, check out RVshare, a website with a great selection of all sorts of RVs, and if you are looking for a regular car, you might want to look at DiscoverCars, one of my favorite websites for car rentals.
Where to stay near Arches National Park
While there are no hotels inside Arches, nearby Moab has plenty of accommodations from simple motels to glamping and home-style cabins.
Finally, Under Canvas Moab offers incredible glamping experience just outside of the Arches National Park.
Camping near Arches National Park
The only campground inside the Arches National Park is located in Devil’s Garden and it’s VERY hard to get a spot there from spring to early fall, unless you make a reservation months ahead of your visit. Your best bet is to stay in one of the campgrounds in Moab or go to a hotel.
Ken’s Lake Campground near the Moab Reservoir is managed by the BLM and offers superb views of the La Sal Mountain Range.
Up The Creek Campground is located a few blocks away from downtown Moab and offers great amenities and the best location of any campground in Moab.
The Ledge Campground is outside of Moab and has a total of 105 campgrounds. The fee is $15 per night and since campsites are dispersed, you get to enjoy plenty of space.
Utah State Route 128 has many BLM campgrounds. Most of these campgrounds come on a first-come, first-served basis, and can get full by late afternoon, especially on weekends. If you want to snag a spot, come early and bring cash, as you can’t use credit cards.
Camping in Moab
Moab also boasts many private campgrounds that have limited number of spots.
If you are traveling on a budget, check Freecampsites.net, a website that has a list of free campsites near Utah national parks and beyond. Hipcamp.com is another great source where you can find tons of campgrounds on a budget.
Not planning to camp? I suggest hotels.com where you can find tons of hotels in Moab and collect points!
1. Delicate Arch Trail
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
One of the unmissable hikes at Arches National Park, Delicate Arch is what so many travelers come here for in the first place.
Since Double Arch is an unofficial symbol of Utah, it doesn’t require a lengthy introduction. Even if you haven’t heard the name of this famous landmark before, there’s a good chance you have seen it in photos.
The 3-mile hike to the Delicate Arch starts at Wolfe Ranch and after taking you on a relatively flat trail, it begins a steep ascent on a sleek sandstone surface before arriving at the Arch overlook. Most of the hike is exposed, which means you need to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat.
If a Delicate Arch hike sounds like too much of a chore to you, head to the upper viewpoint about half a mile from the parking lot, from where you can see the Delicate Arch in the distance.
2. Devil’s Garden Loop
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 550 feet
One of the most popular trails at Arches, Devil’s Garden Loop boasts a stunning collection of viewpoints.
Devil’s Garden Loop begins at the Devil’s Garden parking lot near the end of the main access road at Arches. The Landscape Arch marks the end of the improved trail and extends into a primitive loop trail where you can see some of the most spectacular formations in this national park.
You can find many features along Devil’s Garden Loop including Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, Private Arch, Double O Arch, Landscape Arch, and the Dark Angel tower.
3. Double-O-Arch Trail
Distance: 4.1 miles (roundtrip)
One of my favorite hikes at Arches National Park, Double-O-Arch is located at the end of the Devil’s Garden Loop and requires scrambling in the rugged terrain.
Right near the Double-O-Arch trail, you will find the Dark Angel Spur Trail, a dark formation that rises about 150 feet above the desert. It’s a nice easy trail through the desert if you are looking to add little extra something to your hike to Double-O-Arch.
Also on the way to the Double-O-Arch trail, you can visit Navajo Arch and Partition Arch along the Navajo Arch Spur Trail. These two arches see considerably little traffic and are perfect if you want to explore less-visited parts of the Arches National Park.
4. Landscape Arch Trail
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 260 feet
The largest natural arch in the world, Landscape Arch sits at the end of the Devil’s Garden Loop and can be visited on a quick jaunt along the trail. This well-marked trail is suitable for all hikers and takes you straight to the arch.
5. Double Arch Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
An impressive formation that with two massive arches joined at the top, Double Arch Trail is one of those features that make this national park so popular with photographers.
Double Arch Trail is an easy hike along the paved trail that can be done by anybody. At 112 feet, it is also the tallest natural arch in the world.
6. Balanced Rock Trail
Distance: 0.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 30 feet
One of the easiest hikes at Arches National Park, the Balanced Rock trail brings you to a quirky rock formation that features a huge boulder atop a sandstone spire rising from the desert floor. This quick easy loop is a great way to get out of your car and stretch your legs before deciding where to continue next.
7. Fiery Furnace
Distance: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 45 feet
Fiery Furnace is one of the best hikes in Arches National Park.
A cool maze made of narrow slot canyons and tight passages – this hike is tough to navigate unless you are familiar with the area. Portions of the Fiery Furnace trail require scrambling and ducking under rock formations and arches which makes it one of the best hikes at Arches for the adventurous types.
Technically, Fiery Furnace is a continuation of the Devil Garden, but with more challenging terrain and more stunning scenery unlike any other hikes at Arches National Park.
There are two ways to explore Fiery Furnace, one of the best hikes at Arches National Parks. The first is by getting a ranger gouged tour at the Arches Visitor Center, and the second is by getting your permit. The access to Fiery Furnace is off-limits to regular visitors, so if want to explore it, make sure to arrange a permit or book a guided tour ahead of your trip to Moab.
8. Broken Arch Trail
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 175 feet
Although this arch is called broken, it’s only cracked at the top. Located near Devil’s Garden Loop, this is an easy hike that starts as a flat trail and later takes you through small ravines with patches of slick red rock.
After you reach Broken Arch, you can continue along the trail to visit Tapestry Arch and Sand Dune Arch.
9. Park Avenue Trail
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
One of my favorite hikes at Arches National Park, Park Avenue trail descends into a spectacular valley amid the giant red slabs. For many travelers, it’s also one of the first stops in the Arches National Park, and you can also get an incredible panoramic view of the area from the platform above the trail.
Among the most impressive features of the trail are the Courthouse Towers, Queen Victoria Rock, Queen Nefertiti, the Three Gossips, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel.
10. Windows Loop
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation Gain: 160 feet
Names after the Window Arches, this loop is an easy hike along a well-marked trail that also features a quick detour to Turret Arch that can be visited on your way back
Best time to visit Arches National Park
Summer is the busiest time at Arches National Park with thousands of people coming here from all over the world. However, this is also the hottest time in this part of Utah with temperatures often reaching triple digits.
If you don’t want to bake in the heat and share trails with hundreds of people, consider visiting Arches from April through May or from September through mid-October, when the crowds are gone and the temperatures are milder.
Winter is the quietest time at Arches National Park, as temperatures get cooler and it’s not uncommon to see snow. That, however, could be a great time to visit Arches National Park, if you are looking to explore unclouded trails and snap photos of the stunning red-rock arches covered with snow.
In case you plan on visiting Arches National Park in winter, make sure to check the weather, as park roads are sometimes closed because of the precarious conditions.
Places to eat near Arches National Park
Moab has grown a ton over the last few years and I was surprised to see how busy it has become when I visited it last time. During my last visit a few years ago, I remember a few unpretentious eateries, but now you can find all sorts of options here.
Some of the best restaurants in Moab are Miguel’s Baja Grill (super popular spot, when I was in Moab, a few times they were even out of food), Moab Garage Co. that has tacos and toasties; Sabaku Sushi (incredible variety of sushi for all tastes); and Arches Thai, a place that offers delicious Thai food.
Moab’s Food Truck Park is one of the best places for delicious food on the go where you can find great options for Mexican, Italian and Asian food, as well as paninis, smoothies and even shaved ice!
Quick note: All the Moab restaurants mentioned in this article offer vegan options.
How many days to spend at Arches National Park
Arches have become one of the most visited national parks in the United States with a few million visitors per year. While many visitors flock to some of the most popular hikes at Arches National Park, other, less-explored trails see considerably fewer hikers.
If you only want to explore the highlights of the Arches National Park, a day will be enough for your trip, however, if you want to do less-busy hikes at Arches National Park arches such as Fiery Furnace and Double-O-Arch, I recommend two days for your trip.
America The Beautiful National Parks Pass
If you plan to explore some of the best hikes at Arches National Park, there’s a good chance you will probably visit other national parks in the area.
With an average fee at Utah National Parks of $35, it makes sense to buy America the Beautiful National Parks pass which costs $80. The pass will quickly pay off and will give you access to other national parks within the U.S. National Parks System.
Things to know before hiking at Arches
This is a compact national park, with many hiking trails at Arches not requiring advanced skills. However, there are a handful of moderate hiking trails, that are perfect if you are looking to escape those crowded easy trails and have a more adventurous experience.
Before you plan your hikes at Arches National Park, make sure to bring enough water, good sunscreen, and a hat. Summers can be hot in Southern Utah with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
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