There are so many things to do in Arches National Park! It's no wonder that it is one of the most popular parks and is a bucket list destination for so many people. This article will help you find everything you will need to know on planning a perfect trip to Arches National Park!
Things to do in Arches National Park
- Things to do in Arches National Park
- Things to Remember when visiting Arches National Park
- Arches National Park Facts
- Arches Scenic Drive
- Arches Visitor Center
- Hike Devil's Garden Trail
- Hike the Delicate Arch Trail
- Arches National Park Photography
- Arches National Park 4x4 Tours
- Arches National Park Camping
- Things to do near Arches National Park
Some things in life are just so good that once you get a taste, you just keep coming back for more. For me, Arches is one of those places!
I have been coming back to Arches NP for over 30 years and I still get excited like a kid each time I go.
Maybe it's the fact that Arches has the highest concentration of natural sandstone arches on the planet!
Whatever it is, I'm sure that I will be back several more times in my life and sure that many of you, once you get a taste of Arches will feel the same way.
Things to Remember when visiting Arches National Park
Arches National Park, like many places in the American Southwest, has seen dramatic increases in attendance. I think the reason is the advent of social media.
In the past twenty to thirty years, photos of numerous obscure areas of the Southwest have become Instafamous and become a bucket list item for today's visitors.
In the past fifteen years alone, Arches attendance went from 860,000 visitors a year to 2021 having well over 1.8 million visitors a year!
That's over a 100% increase and almost an increase of one million visitors a year!
The park's infrastructure was, and still is, not equipped to handle this kind of increase in attendance. The growing concerns of damage to park resources have led to a timed entry ticket system.
Arches Timed entry tickets
If you plan on visiting Arches National Park between April 3, 2022-October 3, 2022, every vehicle allowed entrance into the park between 6:00 am-5:00 pm will first need to get a timed entry ticket before arriving at the park.
After securing your timed-entry ticket, just bring a copy with you to the park entrance on the date of your arrival along with your Photo ID and either a park pass or pay the park entrance fee.
How do I get a timed entry ticket to Arches?
There are several ways to get a timed entry ticket
1- Download and use the Recreation.gov mobile app
2- Click this link to Recreation.gov to secure your ticket
3- Call the reservation line at (877)444-6777
4- Reservation International Line: (606)515-6777
5- Reservation Line (TDD) at (877)833-6777
How far in advance can I get a timed entry ticket to Arches?
The park will release tickets on a first come-first served basis three months in advance in monthly blocks on dates listed below
Starting January 3 at 8 am MST, you can get timed entry tickets for (April 3-April 30)
Starting February 1 at 8 am MST, you can get timed entry tickets for (May 1- May 31)
Starting March 1 at 8 am MDT, you can get timed entry tickets for (June 1- June 30)
Starting April 1 at 8 am MDT, you can get timed entry tickets for (July 1 - July 31)
Starting May 1 at 8 am MDT, you can get timed entry tickets for (August 1 - August 31)
Starting June 1 at 8 am MDT, you can get timed entry tickets for (September 1- September 30)
Starting July 1 at 8 am MDT, you can get timed entry tickets for (October 1-October 3)
Fiery Furnace Permits
In order to explore the Fiery Furnace area of Arches National Park you will need to have either a self guided Fiery Furnace Exploration Permit or be on a ranger guided hike.
If you want to hike the Fiery Furnace you HAVE to get a permit in advance.
Self Guided Fiery Furnace Permits are available online from Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Permits can be requested up to 7 days in advance and must be reserved at least 2 days prior to the trip date.
Groups are limited to 6 people and kids under age of 5 are not allowed.
Permits have to be picked up at the visitor center in advance. All members of the hiking party must be present to watch a required educational video. Permits will not be issued within 30 minutes of visitor center closing.
Permits cost $10 per person.
Fiery Furnace permit holders will not need to obtain a Timed Entry Ticket in addition to a Fiery Furnace permit reservation.
Ranger Guided Tours of Fiery Furnace
Ranger led Fiery Furnace Tours cost $16 per person.
Ranger-guided tour tickets can be reserved for morning hikes up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777 (in North America) or +1 518-885-3639 (international).
Arches National Park Facts
Arches National Monument was established on April 12, 1929
Arches National Park was established on November, 12, 1971
Arches averages 8-10 inches of rainfall each year
There are 483 species of plants in Arches
There are 186 species of Birds in Arches
There are 52 species of mammals in Arches
Things To Do In Arches National Park
Arches is a park that will dazzle your senses with incredible rock formations and natural sandstone arches.
Add the deep blue skies and you have one of the most picturesque places on our planet.
Here is a list of things to do in this incredible location!
Arches Scenic Drive
The 18-mile scenic drive from the park entrance to the Devil's Garden Trailhead is filled with viewpoints and must-see attractions.
You can add on two additional paved roads making a 22-mile drive and hitting pretty much all the major attractions within the park.
Park Avenue Viewpoint
The drive past the park's entrance follows up some beautiful red rock onto the plateau. By this point, you are already starring out in amazement! Your first stop is the Park Avenue viewpoint/trailhead.
Courthouse Towers Viewpoint
This is one of my favorite points to photograph the Three Gossips, and Sheep Rock! This is definitely worth the stop.
Balanced Rock is one of the must-see attractions in Arches. It's also extremely easy to get to as it is along the scenic road heading towards all the top attractions.
Make sure to take 15 minutes and stop at the trailhead and get out and walk the easy .3 mile loop around Balanced Rock!
You will be able to look straight up at the rock and is rather unnerving to see the portion that seemingly has no real support for such a big rock!
The Windows Section
Right past the Balanced Rock trailhead is the turn for the Windows Section. This is a must-see in Arches!
Here you will see The Parade of Elephants, Turret Arch, the Garden of Eden, North Window, South Window, and Double Arch.
This is where you can take the famous photograph of looking through the North Window Arch and taking a picture of Turret Arch.
Double Arch is also the location of the opening of the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
If you drive the road to the Delicate Arch Trailhead parking lot and continue on about another mile, you will arrive at the Upper and Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint.
This is a great way to see Delicate Arch if you don't have time to hike to Delicate Arch or if you have mobility restrictions.
The lower Delicate Arch viewpoint is the easiest and closest to the trailhead and you can walk a little further up to the upper Delicate Arch viewpoint for a better view.
Salt Valley Overlook
This is a great view into a much lesser traveled portion of Arches. Those who travel here are rewarded with the lesser-seen Marching Men and Tower Arch.
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
This is a great vantage point to look down into the Fiery Furnace and its labyrinth of fins and spires.
A hike here requires being on a ranger-led hike as it is a maze inside and beyond easy to get lost in this maze.
Sand Dune Arch
This easy to reach arch is fun to photograph and it is fun hiking through the sand.
Skyline Arch is easily seen from the roadway but also has a short trail for a birds-eye view of the arch.
Arches Visitor Center
The Arches Visitor Center has a bookstore and several interpretative displays telling you about the park. There is also a park movie normally available and hope to see them return soon.
There is also a couple of animal statues out front that make great photo opportunities.
Distance: 7.9 miles loop trail, can be out and back trail if you only want to see certain arches
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Time Required: Four to five hours to complete
The Devil's Garden Trail is easily one of my favorite hikes in the entire National Parks system! This hike will take you past 8 of the 2000+ arches in the park.
This includes Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Privative Arch, and Black Arch Overlook.
You will also pass what used to be Wall Arch with a 71 foot span (12th largest arch in the park) but crumbled back down to the earth on August 4, 2008.
It's a reminder that this park is always changing and that one day visitors will be coming to see arches that have not yet been formed.
If you would like to learn more about the area there is a great Sunset Hike guided tour of Devil's Garden available.
Hike the Delicate Arch Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles out and back trail
Time Required: 2-3 Hours
Delicate Arch is one of the two must-do hikes in Arches. I mean how can you take a trip to Arches and not see the arch on the Utah State license plate?
You may ask why is this trail-rated difficult? It climbs over 600 feet in elevation and for almost the entire hike, you will be exposed to the direct sunlight beating down on you and heat radiating off the rock below you.
The beginning of the trail goes by Wolfe Ranch and a nice rock petroglyph panel. It's definitely fun to stop and take photos and I have always been very pleased with my photos here along the trail. After the first half-mile, the trail climbs up the red rock.
It's not anything special, it really is just following the line of hikers towards Delicate Arch.
You finally get to a rock cliff to hike along and is something fun to look at. Then you go around a corner and it's like magic!
There it is standing right in front of you, Delicate Arch! I was shocked as to how big it was and how I never saw the arch until the last few steps of the hike!
What makes this hike so interesting is that when you get to the top, Delicate Arch seems to sit in an amphitheater with it perfectly placed for everyone to stare at, even walk up to.
Take your time and enjoy this moment and take plenty of photos, it will be a moment you will always remember!
You will be exposed to the sun on this hike, make sure to carry plenty of water, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.
If you would like to learn more about the area there is a guided tour with a master naturalist that can be customized to see specific areas of the park including Delicate Arch.
Arches National Park Photography
Since the advent of social media, there are numerous places throughout the Southwest that have now been discovered and the traffic to these locations has exploded.
Some of these locations include Monument Valley, Upper Antelope Canyon, the Zion Narrows to name a few.
Arches National Park is one of these areas and is a photographer's dream with all of its incredible arches and unusual rock formations like Delicate Arch and the Devils Garden Hike!
You will see people lined up to take a particular photo carrying everything from iPhones, iPods, and go pro to professionals toting gear bags with cameras attached to tripods.
My best advice is to come prepared and bring your patience.
Don't expect to have your personal space when photographing something as popular as Delicate Arch.
When hiking to Delicate Arch, the sheer number of people hiking the trail reminds me of watching ants all in a line marching up the hill. This means that there are going to be people all around when you get to the Arch.
There are no longer days of having parts of the southwest to yourself and some areas now remind me of going to some of the world's iconic attractions like the Acropolis in Athens Greece, the Trevi Fountain in Rome, or the Leaning Tower of Pisa where there are mountains of tourists and no personal space.
This means that you may have to get creative to get that photo that will turn heads or perhaps take the road less traveled and create a new special moment at a remote and often overlooked location of the park.
Did I mention parking? Don't expect princess parking in Arches, in fact, you may find parking to be one of your biggest challenges, especially in the peak season.
The best thing you can do is be flexible and have an idea of several photo opportunities that way you can bounce around to your second or third option instead of worrying about a parking spot.
Some of the park's attractions are best photographed in the morning while others are best photographed in the afternoon. Here is a quick guide for the best photographic locations for the morning and the afternoon.
Arches National Park Sunrise Photography
The best places to photograph at Arches National Park in the morning and sunrise include The Three Gossips, Double Arch, Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Turret Arch, and Wolfe Ranch.
Arches National Park Sunset Photography
The best places to photograph in the evening and sunset include Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, North & South Windows, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, and Skyline Arch.
Remember that nature here has already created incredible lighting for photos in Arches. Those who take a little time and preparation can end up with some very rewarding photos to brag about for years to come.
If you want to learn even more about sunset photography in Arches there is a guided tour available that guides you to the perfect photo locations.
Arches National Park 4x4 Tours
I have always been a big fan of taking the road less traveled. This is because I can still get out and see a part of the park with only a fraction of the crowds that you see in the main parking areas.
I think this is because most visitors do not have a 4WD vehicle, a rental car with a contract that does not allow you to take these roads, or they do not have much experience operating a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Having said that, you are in Moab, the capital of 4WD in America.
It should be no surprise that there is an abundance of 4WD vehicles and tour operators in the Moab area that can take you on either a half-day or full-day experience in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
This will get you out there to the less photographed features of Arches like Eye of the Whale Arch, Tower Arch, and Marching Men and will give you a great story back home about the time you went off-roading in Moab.
Arches 4X4 adventure from Moab guided tour is a great option if you would like a guide to take you off road in the park.
There is also an epic Moab U-drive Slickrock Guided Tour that gives you the chance to off road with a guide.
Arches National Park Camping
I personally love camping at Devils Garden Campground in Arches National Park! In fact, I would go as far as to say it is one of my favorite campgrounds. This is because of the location!
The campground is located in the heart of Arches and has two hiking trails that you can simply walk from your site to the trailhead.
The first trailhead, and in my opinion the best hike in all of Arches, is called the Devil's Garden Hike. The BIG benefit here is that you leave your car in your campsite eliminating having to fight for parking at the trailhead.
The campground and trailhead are also a good half hour from the park entrance so if you get up early you can miss the huge crowds and really enjoy the hike and take photos without hikers everywhere.
The second hike leaves out by the restroom and goes to Tapestry Arch, Broken Arch, and Sand Dune Arch.
There is also Skyline Arch behind the amphitheater in the campground. This is a very nice amphitheater with regular programs throughout the summer.
Check out my article on Arches National Park Camping for more information.
Things to do near Arches National Park
You will quickly pick up that Moab has its own vibe! Daily commuter vehicles change from SUVs and minivans to UTV's and rock crawling Jeeps.
This should not really be a surprise as Moab is also known as the Adventure Capital of the United States. There are all sorts of guided activities
My first trip to Arches was over 20 years ago and I have incredible memories of this area.
I have since drug my wife and family here and am sure that my excitement when I talk about Arches has drawn others here as well. I hope to return again someday soon so that I can add to my list of things to do in Arches National Park!
Take a guided tour
Scenic Flight over Arches NP - Enjoy an epic scenic flight over the park with views of arches, rock formations, and so much more.
Private Petroglyph Tour - Enjoy a private Moab Petroglyph Tour to see Anasazi and Ute petroglyphs, arches, and the geology of the Colorado River.
Go mountain biking
Moab is the mountain biking capital of the United States and one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the world!
Does that get you excited to take some of the most world-famous mountain biking trails?
Moab has everything from beginner trails to the highly technical Slickrock Blue Trail which is considered by many as the ultimate mountain biking experience.
Some of the classic trails in Moab include Navajo Rocks, Slickrock, The Whole Enchilada (experts only), Klondike Bluffs, Magnificent 7 Trails, and Pipe Dream Trail.
Of course, there are just too many to list but here is a great book if you plan on mountain biking in Moab.
There is a North Klondike Bluffs 12-16 mile guided mountain bike tour that offer mountain bikes, snacks and beverages, and more.
There is also a great introduction to mountain biking in Moab tour that gives you the chance to experience mountain biking in Moab.
Lodging in Arches National Park
There are no lodges in Arches National Park. See Hotels below
Hotels Near Arches National Park
Moab, Utah is only five miles from the entrance of Arches National Park and makes a great place to stay when visiting Arches and Canyonlands.
Moab has become an incredibly popular destination so don't expect to find a cheap hotel here, especially when the National Parks have limited camping spaces and no lodges.
Click on the map below to see the current rates for hotels and vacation rentals in Moab, Utah.
Camping near Arches National Park
If you don't plan months in advance, you could very well be looking for a campground outside of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.
Both parks' campgrounds are rather small, especially for the number of visitors they both bring into the area.
Luckily there are some really nice private campgrounds in the area. Check the links below for camping options in and around Moab, Utah.
Portal RV Resort and Campground - Moab, Utah
This campground offers lodging, RV sites, a pool, hiking, dog park, and more.
Sun Outdoors Arches Gateway - Moab, Utah
This campground offers lodging, RV and Tent sites, a pool, hot tub, dog park, bike rentals and more.
Sun Outdoors North Moab - Moab, Utah
This campground offers lodging, RV and Tent sites, a pool, hot tub, dog park, and more.
Check out additional campgrounds in the area on Campspot.
Explore area parks
You are going to find yourself sitting right in the heart of the Grand Circle when you visit Arches National Park.
The Grand Circle is a geographical location in the southwest that includes Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.
This area is well known for its numerous incredible National Parks, State Parks, Tribal Lands, and much more. There is enough to do here to keep someone busy for a lifetime!
Here is a list of some of the lesser-known National Park sites in close proximity to Arches National Park but are less known than Utah's Mighty five.
Additional National Park Resources
There is a 3 volume set of "Photographing the Southwest" that has great information about the Southwest including photo advice.
Books and magazines on off-road driving skills/etiquette, etc. My personal favorite is Mark A Smith's Guide to Safe Common Sense Off-Road Driving. Having said that, I am not sure if it is in print anymore and is a touch and go if you can get a copy on Amazon.
Additional Arches NP Articles
National Parks near Arches National Park
Parks Near Arches National Park
Do you have a National Park Pass? Check out the types of US National Park Pass to pick up and use for your National Park Trip.
Visiting multiple parks? Check out this list of National Parks to check off all the parks you have visited.
Check out all of the Utah National Parks and neighboring National Parks in Colorado, Wyoming National Parks, Nebraska National Parks, Arizona National Parks, Kansas National Parks, Oklahoma National Parks, and National Parks in New Mexico.