Double Arch in Arches National Park

Guide to Arches National Park

Arches National Park, located in southeastern Utah, is known for its stunning red rock formations, natural arches, and breathtaking desert landscapes. There is so much to see and do that it might be a bit overwhelming. And since my life brings me to Arches almost every week I decided to put together this little guide to help navigate this corner of the world. All right, let’s take a look.

Is Arches National Park Worth Visiting?

Yep, Arches National Park is an incredible place; it has so much to offer. Here are some of my reasons why:

  • Otherworldly landscape – meaning unique rocks and rock formations. It’s mesmerizing, it’s breath-taking.
  • Photography opportunities: Arches National Park offers photographers a plethora of ever-changing light and shadows that show off the beauty of the rocks. Sunrise and sunset are particularly magical times to capture the landscape.
  • Night Skies: Arches National Park is designated as a Dark Sky Park, making it an excellent spot for star gazing
  • Accessibility: Even if you’re not into hiking, Arches offers splendid views even when choosing to just drive through the park.

Now, that we’ve established Arches is worth your time, let’s see what you need to know before your arrival.

Double Arch in Arches National Park
Double Arch in Arches National Park

Fees and Timed Entry

In 2021, the National Park Service introduced a timed entry reservation system to manage the high visitation levels at Arches National Park. Visitors are required to make a reservation for a specific entry time during the busy months (typically from April 1st through October). The goal is to spread out the guests and make for a better experience for everyone. The reservation fee is (as of 2023: $2) in addition to the regular entrance fee. Every night at 6pm the National Park Service releases 60% of the tickets for the following day. So, if you find yourself in Moab without a timed entry head to www.recreation.gov and grab your last-minute ticket!

Entrance Fees

Single vehicle (per vehicle) $30

Motorcycle (per vehicle) $25

Pedestrian/Bicycle (per person) $15

Interagency Annual Pass $80

Southeast Utah Parks Pass $55

Please remember that fees are subject to change, so I recommend checking the official Arches National Park website for the most up-to-date information on fees and reservation requirements.

Best Places to Visit

Delicate Arch

Distance: 3 miles round trip (4.8 km), time: 2-3 hours

The iconic Delicate Arch is one of the most famous landmarks in the park. There are multiple viewpoints to see it from, including the popular Delicate Arch Viewpoint and the Delicate Arch Trailhead.

Double Arch

Distance: 0.5 miles round trip (0.8 km), time: 0.5-1 hour

This unique formation consists of two arches that share a common rock wall. It’s easily accessible and a great spot for photography.

Fiery Furnace

Distance: Up to you! (about 2 miles on average), time: 3 hours (with a ranger)

A labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins, Fiery Furnace offers ranger-guided tours for a more in-depth exploration of this intricate landscape. Reservations are required.

Fiery Furnace at sunset Arches National Park
Fiery Furnace at Sunset in Arches National Park

Balanced Rock

Distance: 0.3 miles round trip (0.5 km), time: 20-30 minutes

This large balanced rock atop a pedestal is easily visible from the main road and has a short loop trail around its base.

Devils Garden

Distance: 7.2 miles round trip (11.6 km), time: 4-5 hours

This area features multiple arches and hiking trails, including the popular Devils Garden Trail leading to Landscape Arch.

Landscape Arch

Distance: 1.6 miles round trip (2.6 km), time: 1-1.5 hours

Take a look at my guide to best hikes with families: Click Here

Arches National Park Sunset
Sunset at Fiery Furnace Viewpoint

Crowd Levels

Arches National Park can get extremely busy, especially during peak months and holidays. The timed entry reservation system has helped manage crowds, but it’s still a good idea to plan your visit during off-peak times, such as early mornings or late afternoons. Additionally, visiting on weekdays rather than weekends can help you avoid larger crowds.

When’s the high season in Moab?

April to June: Spring is a popular time to visit as the weather begins to warm up, and wildflowers start to bloom. The crowds start to increase in late April and continue through May and June.

July to August: Summer is also considered high season due to school vacations and families taking trips. July and August can be quite hot, but many visitors still come to experience the parks and enjoy outdoor activities.

Getting There

September to October: Fall is another popular time to visit Moab and the national parks. The weather is more comfortable compared to the peak of summer, and the fall foliage can add an extra layer of beauty to the landscapes.

From Moab:

Arches National Park is located just a few miles north of Moab. You just need to take US-191 north for about 5 miles until you reach the park entrance.

From Other Locations

Salt Lake City, UT: Take I-15 south to US-6 east to US-191 south.

Denver, CO: Take I-70 west through the mountains into Utah. Exit onto US-191 south near Crescent Junction.

Las Vegas, NV: Take I-15 north to US-6 east to US-191 south.

Phoenix, AZ: Take I-17 north to I-40 east to US-191 north.

Remember that road conditions, weather, and other factors can affect travel times, so it’s a good idea to check for updates and plan your route accordingly. I really like to use weather bug, here’s the link www.weatherbug.com

Moab Photographer Turret's Arch Arches National Park
Sunset at Turret’s Arch in Arches National Park

How many days do you need in Arches National Park?

How long to spend in Arches National Park. One full day in Arches will allow visitors time to experience a nice variety of the Arches trails while two days will allow time to explore all the big trails.

An idea for 1-day itinerary

If you’re short on time, you can still experience the highlights of Arches National Park in a day. I’d recommend picking 1 longer hike like Delicate Arch or Landscape Arch, and drive through the whole park with taking some stops align the way at the La Sal Mountains viewpoint, Windows, and  Sand Dune Arch. I think these stops will give you a good feel for the the park’s beauty and uniqueness.

2-day itinerary

Within two days, you can explore more of the park’s trails and viewpoints. In addition to the must-see arches, you can add a longer hike through the Devil’s Garden (about 7 mi). 

What not to miss in Arches National Park?

My top 3 spots

  • Fiery Furnace,
  • Delicate Arch,
  • Double Arch and Windows section.

Okay, that’s a lot of reading and I hope that finding all this information in one place was at least a tiny bit helpful 🙂 I think these are the most important things that come to my mind. Happy exploring!

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