Guide to Visiting Arches National Park
Jason of @worldpins
With over 2000 incredible rock formations, it is no wonder why Arches National Park is one of the most fascinating national parks in the United States and a place everyone should visit in their lifetime. The park is located just outside of the town of Moab, Utah and is home to the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches including the famed Delicate Arch, proudly displayed on the Utah license plate. The park also features a 15 mile paved road providing access to campgrounds, restrooms, and trails to all of the main arches. Below are several of my tips to help make your visit to Arches as enjoyable as possible.
How to get there:
Arches National Park is located in mid-right of Utah, about 230 miles south of Salt Lake City. If you are visiting from far away, the best bet is to fly into Salt Lake City Airport and drive four hours south to Moab via the US-6 East freeway. Once in Moab there are plenty of hotels and motels to choose from to make your stay more enjoyable. If you driving across the country to Arches, be sure to bring plenty of water and gas in your car to avoid getting stuck in the middle of Arches without any needed supplies. Utah can be very hot and dry during the spring and summer months and this could make sure your trip is as enjoyable as possible.
When to go:
While most people tend to visit national parks during the Summer months, this could possibly be the worst time to go. During this time most national parks are very crowded and extremely hot, sometimes even over 100 F! My favorite time to visit Arches is at the end of Winter, from late March to beginning of April. During this time most of the snow has melted and the temperature hovers around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also a nice time to go because the park is not very crowded, allowing you to move around quickly and be able to see all the main Arches before sundown. Another good time to go is just before winter, from October to November. Most crowds have dissipated from the summer peak and the weather is pleasant.
Driving around Arches:
It is not hard to see why Arches is one of the most popular parks in the United States. From the delicate rock formations to the expansive Utah landscapes, you will begin to feel as though you are in the middle of an old western movie. Once you turn off the U.S. Route 191 freeway and pay an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle, you will immediately begin to ascend above the valley below for about .5 miles. After this, the first set of arches you will come across is the Courthouse Towers Arches. This is a great place to get out of the car, take pictures, and stretch your legs after the long drive. The site also has spectacular views of the intricate red rock formations. I recommend not spending too much time here as there are many incredible places to visit in the park during the day. As you continue on the road you will come across the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint. This is also a great place to step outside the car and take an impressive 360-degree views of the incredible Utah landscape.
The Delicate Arch
Visiting Arches National Park and not seeing the Delicate Arch would be similar to visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris and missing the Mona Lisa display. That being said, the Delicate Arch is one that cannot be missed when visiting Arches for the first time. The arch is best known for being prominently displayed on millions of Utah license plates, as well as souvenirs scattered across Utah airports and gift shops. To hike to the Delicate Arch, I recommend starting at the Wolfe Ranch parking area approximately 1.5 miles from the Arch. To prepare for this hike, don’t forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen as this hike offers no trees for shade from the sun. The hike also includes an elevation change of about 480 feet and will take between 2 – 3 hours to complete depending on your hiking speed. Overall the hike is fairly moderate and is safe to do for the whole family. I also recommend bringing a good set of hiking shoes that wont slip on the sandstone rock path to the arch. Feel free to take your time once you get to the top and appreciate the work you put in to make it to such an incredible landmark!
What to Pack:
Below is a list of some essentials to bring when visiting Arches National Park:
Light Colored Shirt
Light Jacket (Night)
Food and Accessories:
Trail Map (Given at Entrance)
Plenty of Water
Trunk Straps (trees are scarce so you want to be able to hang from greater distances)
Trail Mix, Energy Bars, or Other Snacks
Trekking Poles (Optional)
Backup Camera Batteries
Half Full+ Gas Tank
Cell Phone (limited reception in the park)
Cell Phone Charger