Article Overview: Best Things to Do at Arches National Park
Arches National Park is a majestic high desert park full of incredible vistas, easy hiking trails, one-of-a-kind rock formations, and of course arches.
There are over 2,000 arches here, along with hoodoos, mesas, balanced rocks, and other strange and fascinating formations.
Arches is my personal favorite national park in Utah due to it’s layout and incredible sense of interactivity. Walking through the tunnels, going barefoot in the sand, and seeing these incredible geological wonders is truly mesmerizing.
In this article I’ll cover all of the most popular things to do in Arches National Park as well as some of the hidden gems.
Ready to go? Let’s get started!
Table of Contents: Best Things to Do in Arches National Park
Best Things to Do in Arches National Park
- About Our Travels in Arches National Park
- Things To Do in Arches National Park
- Top 5 Best Things to Do in Arches National Park
- Top 10 Things to Do at Arches National Park
- Top 15 Things to Do at Arches National Park
- Top 20 Arches National Park Activities
- Map of Things to Do in Arches National Park
- Summary of the Top 10 Best Things to Do in Arches National Park
About Our Travels in Arches National Park
The first time we visited Arches was back in 2014.
I was fresh out of high school and it was one of my first road trips to the western United States. It was a spectacular and truly unforgettable experience.
This was part of a Utah road trip I did with my brother and some friends that has been etched in my memory ever since. We camped most of the time in the national parks and surrounding national forests. It was summertime and the heat was definitely a factor. There were some crowds, but nothing like what you see today.
Our most recent trip to Arches was just this past year and it was every bit as beautiful as I remember.
This time we were able to spend more time in each spot to really soak in the park’s majesty. We wisely visited in the off-season.
It seems each time we visit Arches we find something new and amazing here.
Timed Entry Permit at Arches
Entering Arches National Park requires a permit from April 3 to October 2, 2022. During this time you must have a timed entry permit in order to access the park. These permit tickets are released 3 months in ahead of time so be sure to grab yours before you go (an example – permits for all of August are released on May 1).
Things To Do in Arches National Park
Top 5 Best Things to Do in Arches National Park
1. See Delicate Arch
The hike to Delicate Arch is the most popular thing to do in Arches National Park – after all it is pictured on all of the state’s license plates!
People from all over the globe travel to Arches particularly to see this arch. So expect some crowds and a busy trail during peak hours. To get the close up view of Delicate Arch will involve some hiking.
It’s a 3-mile round trip hike with some steep sections and some sandy sections of trail. From the parking lot you will start an immediate incline that is the steepest section of the trail – there’s typically a lot of huffing and puffing done here.
The trail can be hiked by most visitors, but be prepared for some breaks and bring plenty of water as the uphill ascent isn’t particularly enjoyable – but it’s well worth it.
Delicate Arch Trail
Trail Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
Time Required: 1-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 480 feet (from the parking lot to Delicate Arch)
Getting to Delicate Arch: Park in the Wolfe Ranch parking lot on Delicate Arch Road
Best Time To Visit Delicate Arch
The best time for photos is at sunrise and sunset. I prefer Delicate at Arch at sunrise when the the crowds are lesser (but still substantial) for photos giving it.
The sun rises behind the Arch making for beautiful backlighting which can be a bit technical but worthwhile for the sun flare in my opinion.
Sunset is the most popular time to photograph Delicate Arch as the light illuminates it beautifully during this time.
2. Admire Landscape Arch
At a staggering 290 feet long, Landscape Arch is the longest natural arch in the world. As a result of this, it’s another very popular arch to visit in the park and is easier to get to than the more famous Delicate Arch.
The 1.6 mile roundtrip trail is mostly flat and easy, though it is sandy in a lot of areas.
In the summer be sure to bring plenty of water as it can get very hot. Landscape Arch is part of the Devils Garden area of the park and is situated near many other great arches and spots to visit.
Trail Distance: 1.6 miles (2.6 km) round trip
Time Required: 1 hour
Getting to Landscape Arch: Landscape Arch is accessed via the Devils Garden Trailhead at the end of Arches Scenic Drive. There is a large parking lot with bathrooms and a sign with a map of the trail.
3. Explore Devils Garden
Devils Garden is one of the best areas in the park to hike and explore.
Not only can you see the incredible Landscape Arch here, but you can also see an additional seven arches and some of the best views in the park.
On your way to the famous Landscape Arch, you can visit Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.
Once you have seen Landscape Arch, you can decide whether you want to turn around and head back to the parking lot or continue on for more arches and incredible views.
As you continue on the trail gets more challenging but it also gets a lot more rewarding.
You’ll encounter massive sandstone fins jutting out of the ground and experience spectacular views of the park and the surrounding area.
Make sure to visit Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, and Double O Arch, one of the coolest arches in the park.
After Double O Arch I’d recommend heading back to the parking lot the way you came, or you can take your chances on the primitive trail and see Private Arch as you make your way back.
The primitive trail is not well marked and involves some route-finding so make sure you know what you’re getting into before embarking on it.
No matter what portions of Devils Garden you decide to hike you’re sure to enjoy this beautiful area.
Round trip to Landscape Arch: 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
Pine Tree Arch & Tunnels Arch add 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
Round trip to Double O Arch: 4.2 miles (6.7 km)
To Double O Arch and back via the primitive trail: 5.9 miles (9.5 km)
Navajo Arch & Partition Arch add 0.8 miles (1.3 km)
How to Get Here: The Devils garden Trailhead is located at the end of Arches Scenic Drive where there is a large parking lot. You’ll also find restrooms and trail signs with a map here.
4. Tour the Arches Scenic Drive
One of the best and most accessible activities in the park is driving the Arches Scenic Drive.
It’s hard to miss as there’s only one road that travels all the way through Arches National Park which is Arches Scenic Drive.
The road itself is 19 miles long each way, from Hwy 191 all the way to the Devils Garden trailhead.
It takes between 45 minutes (if you’re going too fast) to 90 minutes to drive the total distance, but I’d budget for much more time as if you’re like me you’ll be stopping off at nearly all the viewpoints and hopping on to a trail or two.
5. Discover Park Avenue
One of the first things visitors drive past in the park is very memorable and picturesque Park Avenue.
Indiana Jones fans like myself might recognize this location from the opening of The Last Crusade with young Indy.
While the cross of Coronado is no longer here the scenery is every bit as epic.
This is one of our favorite spots in the park to soak in epic views of the west that you see (and have seen) in the movies.
Trail Distance: 2 miles round trip
Hike Duration: 30 to 45 minutes
I recommend just going about halfway down the trail as the best parts of the scenery are visible from here.
Otherwise the route continues down which means you’ll be coming back up.
Alternatively, if you have someone willing to drive the car down to the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint, you could hike Park Avenue as a point to point trail.
Top 10 Things to Do at Arches National Park
6. La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
The La Sal Mountains viewpoint is an underrated spot in the park that gets discounted by many as its the first stop along the Arches Scenic Drive. Don’t let this deter you from stopping here.
The high vantage you get from here is unlike any other in the park with really nice panoramic views which are hard to come by in Arches.
Luckily I stopped on the way out of the park and was glad that I did because the views were truly beautiful and a wonderful breeze coursed through the point.
There is no hiking to be done from the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, just a nice pausing point.
7. Stop by Balanced Rock
This is a famous rock that everyone visiting the park drives right by via the main park road.
It’s worth a quick stop to admire how delicate it is but I’d say Balanced Rock doesn’t warrant more than 15 minutes or so.
There is a decent-sized little parking lot at the base of the rock where you can park. If the lot is full then catch it on the way out!
Distance: .3 miles round trip
Length of Time: 10-20 minutes
8. Windows and Turret Arch
Windows and Turret Arch Trail is one of the best in the park featuring three arches.
Turret Arch, South Window, & North Window are connected by the same hiking trail so it’s easy.
I’d budget more time than you think for this (or at least I wished I had originally) as I ended up spending an hour and a half on this trail (well more than you need).
The back side of the Windows I found to be really cool with epic desert landscapes and fortunately for me beautiful clouds (that day).
This was one of my favorite viewpoints in the park and there was practically no one else back there despite the park being fairly crowded.
Distance: 0.7 miles round trip
Length of Time: 30 to 60 minutes
Getting here: I recommend parking at the Windows parking lot and just using it for this hike and the Double Arch hike.
The parking lot is located just off the main park road (Arches Scenic Drive) and is very easy to find.
To get to Double Arch after the Windows Arch hike just walk across the parking lot to the other trail head.
9. Double Arch
For you Indiana Jones fans out there this is the spot where young Indy found the Cross of Coronado in the opening of the third film.
It also happens to be a spectacularly scenic and massive double arch.
It’s a very short and easy hike to the arch and visitors like to climb into the well of the arch and sit or stand chatting and pondering its existence – oh and getting their pictures taken too.
Distance: 0.5 miles (0.8 km) round trip
Length of Time: 30 minutes
How to Get Here: From the parking lot at the end of The Windows Road.
10. Tower Arch
Tower Arch is one of the most beautiful areas in the park in my opinion that most folks skip because it’s all the way at the end of the main road and then requires driving down an additional dirt road (passable by regular cars).
Driving to Tower Arch adds about 20-30 minutes of driving on to the trip which deters folks as well.
All the better for folks like me as a little dirt road only serves to excite my sense of adventure. If you have a 4WD vehicle (and we’re talking like a jeep or something serious) you can access the arch via a much shorter trail.
The last time I was in the park I had a rental Chevy Suburban and there was no way I was going to attempt the high clearance road (or rather I did and turned around at the first sign of trouble).
Trail Length: 2.5 miles round trip (from Klondike Bluffs trailhead) OR .3 miles from 4WD road
Time Required: 1.5 to 2 hours
Top 15 Things to Do at Arches National Park
11. Garden of Eden
This is a great stop as you drive along the park roads taking in the views. Here you’ll see giant hoodoos and towering red rock formations set against the LaSal Mountains off in the distance.
Getting Here: The Garden of Eden is located on Garden of Eden Viewpoint Road accessed from The Windows Road.
12. Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint
This one is for visitors who want to get a great view of the famous Delicate Arch without having to do the challenging hike.
Getting to this viewpoint still involves a short hike, but it offers a great view of the arch with a fraction of the exertion needed to go all the way. Sunset is the best time to see this area and odds are there won’t be that many people here.
Make sure to bring your zoom lens if you want to get a photo!
Distance: 0.6 miles round trip
Length of Time: 15 to 30 minutes
How to Get Here: Located off of Delicate Arch Road past Wolf Ranch is the Delicate Arch Viewpoint parking lot.
13. Fiery Furnace
This is an under-the-radar spot in the park that’s a great place to watch the sunset.
Guided ranger hikes are offered taking visitors into the Fiery Furnace, alternatively you can get a backcountry permit and do it yourself.
The hike is quite strenuous and frankly the best view is just from the viewpoint so we recommend saving your legs for another more rewarding hike.
14. Sand Dune Arch
Distance: 0.4 miles (0.3 km) round-trip
Time: 15 minutes
This is one of the first arches I visited in this park many years ago and I was blown away.
Sand Dune Arch is not like the other arches in the park because it’s tucked inside a rock formation with no way of seeing it unless you venture inside through narrow red sandstone walls.
Along an almost pink sand trail you’ll slide past smooth red rock walls eventually revealing the arch.
On hot summer days this is a great spot as it’s usually shaded and significantly cooler than the surrounding area.
15. Broken Arch
Distance: 1.2 miles (2 km) round-trip
Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Broken Arch is accessed via the same trailhead as Sand Dune Arch and can be combined into the same trip.
The trail is flat and goes through open desert with no shade making it an exceptionally hot hike during the summer.
After reaching the arch you can actually continue on to Tapestry Arch and eventually Devils Garden Campground.
Top 20 Arches National Park Activities
16. Skyline Arch
Distance: 0.2 miles (0.3 km) one-way
Length of Time: 10 to 15 minutes
This is a quick stop as you drive the park road.
The viewpoint is a short walk from the parking lot and offers a nice view of this high arch.
17. Tapestry Arch
Distance: 0.3 miles
Time: 30 minutes
Nestled behind Devils Garden Campground is Tapestry Arch.
This one is off the beaten path and sees a lot fewer visitors than most other areas of the park.
It’s also very unique and worth a visit if you’re enjoying seeing the many shapes and forms these arches come in.
Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch & Tapestry Arch Loop
As mentioned earlier you can visit these three arches in one loop. Beginning at the Sand Dune Arch parking lot you’ll hike to Sand Dune Arch first and then continue on to Broken Arch.
After Broken Arch you’ll head to Tapestry Arch. The trail will eventually pass through Devils Garden campground and then loop back to the parking lot where you started.
The hike is 2.8 miles and takes about 1-2 hours depending on how long you stop to take in the views.
Map of Things to Do in Arches National Park
Summary of the Top 10 Best Things to Do in Arches National Park
We’ve narrowed down our full list of things to do in Arches to the top 10 best things to do given the fact that most folks are somewhat limited on time when visiting the Utah parks!
- Delicate Arch
- Landscape Arch
- Devils Garden
- Arches Scenic Drive
- Park Avenue
- La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
- Balanced Rock
- Window & Turret Arch
- Double Arch
- Tower Arch
How Many Days Do You Need in Arches National Park?
If you’re looking to visit Arches National park, plan on spending a full day here.
You’ll want to get an early start (7am is ideal). Be sure to pack plenty of food and water, including your lunch.
Though it may be tempting to grab a bite in Moab at midday, getting back into the park may take a very long time as lines will be backed up by this point.
If you plan on spending two days in Arches National Park, you can spread out your visits to the places listed above over the two days.
Campsites can be hard to come by in the summer so plan ahead – there’s a good deal of BLM campsites just outside the park that often have more availability.
If you’re trying to do a drive-by of the Moab area and visit Arches and Canyonlands in the same day – we’re here to tell you that it can be done, but it’s not recommended as both parks are worthy of full days and you’ll see that once inside them.
If you’re intent on the drive-by tour due to time constraints then by all means go for it, hit Arches early in the morning and head for Canyonlands in the afternoon to wander the overlooks and take in an unforgettable sunset.
Things to Know Before You Go to Arches National Park
Required Timed Entry Permit: Entering Arches National Park requires a permit from April 3 to October 2, 2022. During this time you must have a timed entry permit in order to access the park. These permit tickets are released 3 months in ahead of time so be sure to grab yours before you go (an example – permits for all of August are released on May 1).
Getting to Arches National Park: Arches National Park is located near Moab, Utah in the southeastern corner of the state. I recommend flying into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and driving to the park which takes about 3.5 hours.
Best Time to Visit Arches: Spring is a great time to visit Utah’s many natural wonders, including Arches National Park.
Fall is also a great time that offers cooler weather and the opportunity to see fall colors in different parts of Utah.
We recommend avoiding visiting in the summer if you can help it.
The Arches National Park website has a page that’s all about how to avoid the crowds and plan a perfect trip here.
Entrance Fees: You can expect $20-$30 per vehicle but we suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.
There are no restaurants in the park. That said, there are numerous dining options in nearby Moab (minutes from the park). Make sure to plan ahead and pack your lunch so you don’t have to wait in lines to re-enter the park.
Cell Service in Arches National Park
Service is actually not bad in Arches depending on where you are in the park.
As you can imagine the high open areas seem to have it and the more you get behind hills and rock formations the more you lose it.
We had decent service throughout most of the main park road.
Leave No Trace
Please remember to Leave No Trace.
Always plan ahead, stay on marked trails, pack out what you bring with you, only throw trash away in designated trash cans, don’t feed or approach wildlife, and please be considerate of the park and other visitors.
We want these places to last so that future generations can continue to enjoy them unimpaired.
Driving to Arches from Salt Lake City
Flying into Salt Lake is usually inexpensive and rental cars can be rented from the airport with relative ease.
There’s nothing quite like driving scenic desert highways of Utah with the wind at your face and exciting adventures ahead of you.
If you’re planning a trip to Utah’s Mighty 5 be sure to check out our Utah National Parks Road Trip Guide. We’ll show you how to plan the perfect road trip through all five Utah national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, and Capitol Reef) with all the details on the best things to do, where to eat & sleep, and more.
Where to Stay At Arches National Park
There is no lodging in Arches National Park. Devils Garden Campground, the only campground in the park, is almost always reserved what feels like years in advance. There are plenty of BLM campsites within a short drive of the park however.
The best place to stay is in Moab. This bustling desert outpost town has many hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and some great grocery stores.
Pin Best Things to Do at Arches National Park
Helpful Related Articles
Devils Garden Hike Arches: Hiking the Epic Devils Garden Trail in Arches
Things to Do Canyonlands: 20 Epic Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park
Things to Do Bryce Canyon: 20 Epic Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park
Things to Do in Zion: 18 EPIC Things to Do in Zion National Park
Road Trip Essentials: 35+ ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS (You’ll Love + Packing List)
Road Trip Planning Tools: 15 BEST FREE ROAD TRIP PLANNING Tools (& Apps) 2022
Zion National Park Guide: Ultimate Guide to Zion National Park
Best Hikes in Zion: 16 EPIC Hikes in Zion National Park
Things to Do in Arches: 16 EPIC Things to Do in Arches National Park
Utah’s Manti-La Sal National Forest: Manti-La Sal National Forest: The Forest As Beautiful as Utah’s Parks
Utah National Parks Guide: 5 MIGHTY Utah National Parks Guide
National Parks Rankings: ALL 63 US National Parks Ranked By Experts
Most Visited National Parks: Top 10 Most Visited National Parks
Least Visited National Parks: Top 10 Least Visited National Parks