Arches National Park
Location: Eastern Utah
Getting there: Arches National Park is located 5.2 miles, only about 10 minutes, away from the nearest town of Moab, Utah, (with BLM land closeby) making it a great convenience to travelers looking for outdoor adventures. The park is fairly long, and will take around 15 minutes getting to the central area where most of the popular features are. It is located about 3 hours away from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and about 30-50 minutes from Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky) and Dead Horse State Park depending on which route you take.
- With over 1.5 million people visiting Arches National Park in 2016, Arches is a popular tourist destination. If your schedule allows it, visit in winter! The number of people in the park is significantly less and on occasion you may find yourselves alone at one of the popular features of the park.
- Plan your itinerary ahead, wear hiking boots, and check the weather. No matter if its the middle of winter or in the spring, Arches is in a desert and the temperature can vary. Make sure you have plenty of water and extra layers just in case.
- Make this National Park (and, Moab in general) a multi-day-trip. If you’re trying to make a one day trip out of Arches and Canyonlands, you will regret it! There is simply just too much to see in these parks, and you definitely would not be giving it justice.
Popular Features: The most famous arch in Arches National Park is undoubtedly Delicate Arch. There are two viewpoints that you can drive to in order to glimpse the arch from a ways away. However, if you have any hiking fiber in your body, the 3 mile round trip hike to the base of the arch is well worth it. Be advised, the 1.5 mi. hike to the arch is rated difficult by the National Park, and it is such. This trail is heavily trafficked in peak seasons, but if you’re traveling in the off-season can be difficult to follow with no real trail markings. Bring sturdy boots or shoes, plenty of water (around a litre per person) and a can-do attitude.
Additionally, Windows and Double Arch are just south of Delicate arch and very easily accessible. Windows offers great views of the La Sal Mountains, an easy path, and multiple arches, and is about a 1 mi. mile round trip hike. Double Arch, just next to windows is a great view of the opposite side of the park and a 0.5 mi. hike from the parking lot. Balanced Rock is also located in the middle of the drive between Windows and Delicate Arch and is definitely worth a pit stop to snap a few pictures
Photography: I cannot stress enough how beautiful Arches National Park is during the “magic hours” of sunrise and sunset. The red rock sandstone turns a deep red rust color and is absolutely gorgeous to see. The strong sun in the desert can make photography challenging if facing the undesired direction during the day so if you’re able to get to the popular features during those times, it’ll make a huge difference. Additionally, Arches is also a great place for night photography or stargazing and the further you get away from the city lights of Moab, the better the light show will be.
- Balanced Rock is a very large rock (three school buses in size) balanced naturally in the park.
- There are ancient sand dunes in Arches National Park left over from ancient lakes in the area, called Petrified Dunes.
- Arches National Park has been featured in scenes in some Hollywood movies including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and The Greatest Story Ever Told(1965)
- Arches do fall, but in geologic time, not as often as one would guess. In 2008, Wall Arch in the Devil’s Garden fell. All arches and features in the park experience erosion and may some day fall.
Arches National Park is definitely a proud check mark on my bucket-list. Although I did not get to spend a great amount of time there, I do feel fairly pleased with the amount of things I was able to see. If I could go back, spending more time in the “magic hours” to capture more photos would be my top priority, as well as trying to catch the Milky Way when it was in season. For some reason, I am always really drawn to National Parks with a desert landscape, and this one with the snowy peaks of the La Sal mountains in the background was simply beautiful and picturesque.
I also would like to revisit when I consider my physical endurance to be in top shape and run up the hill to Delicate Arch like a conqueror. But, alas, that was not this trip. Until next time, Utah, thanks.
Click here for to learn more about what makes Arches National Park such a popular destination.
Originally posted January 25th, 2018