Arches National Park Activities + Travel Tips

If you love the outdoors, you’ll find a variety of Arches National Park activities like hiking, biking, photography, and more!

Use this Arches National Park travel guide to help you plan your vacation: weather, things to do, what to pack, and where to stay.

list of fun Arches National Park activities

Arches National Park should be at the top of your list of places to visit in Utah if you enjoy outdoor activities.

Here are some done-for-you Arches National Park itineraries:

Arches National Park Travel Bundle
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A Photo Tour of Arches National Park

Take a visual tour through Arches National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

What to Expect When Visiting Arches National Park

Arches is a small National Park, but it’s jam-packed with cool features: natural stone arches within the park boundaries, pinnacles, fins, windows and balanced rocks that can all be seen from the scenic drive. 

From April through October the Arches National Park Time Entry program is running. Timed entry tickets will be required to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will allow visitors to enter the park during a one-hour specified window of availability. After entering, visitors may stay in the park as long as they wish for the remainder of the day. Reservation holders may exit and re-enter the park on the same day with a correctly validated ticket.

Visitors can book reservations first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov to get the timed entry ticket. The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks.

You CAN visit Arches without a ticket as long as you enter the park before 6 a.m or after 5 p.m. That’s the best time of day for Arches National Park photography anyway.

Turret Arch with snow
Turret Arch with snow

Best Time to of Year to Visit Arches National Park

It’s important to know what to expect during the various seasons of the year so you can decide the best time to visit Arches National Park for what you want to see, do and photograph.

The Arches National Park weather varies drastically from spring, summer, fall and winter. 

Spring Weather at Arches: temperatures vary quite a bit from month to month in the spring. It’s important to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change.

Summer Weather at Arches: temperatures will be HOT! Since the temperatures are brutal this time of year, plan your outdoor activities for the cooler mornings and evenings!

With the hot summer temperatures, you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a sunhatsunscreen and sunglasses. It’s important to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack.

Fall Weather at Arches: it starts to cool down making it a great time to explore the park because it will be cooler in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures aren’t too hot compared to the summer.

With the cooler temperatures at night, you will definitely want to bring a fleece jacketwarm hat and gloves for the nights and early mornings. 

Winter Weather at Arches: there are some drawbacks to keep in mind when visiting in the winter: visitor services are reduced and you’ll need to be more self-reliant in the winter. And the cold winter weather may not be for everyone.

During the winter it is especially important to dress in layers. We recommend an insulted winter jacketfleece jacketwarm hat and gloves if you’ll be doing any outside activities. Here’s the full list of the outdoor winter clothing we use!

Arches National Park Activities to Enjoy Year-Round

There are so many fun things to do at Arches National Park: hiking trails, scenic drive, rock climbing, off road driving and photography to name a few.

This list is also what we recommend for Arches National Park winter activities, with a few slight adjustments we note below.

Visitor Center & Ranger Programs at Arches

The Arches National Park Visitor Center is the first place you want to stop to get up-to-date information and conditions. It’s open every day of the year with a few seasonal closures – check the website for Arches National Park operating dates and hours.

Did you know you can talk with the park ranger, tell them what you are most interested in and ask for recommendations on things to do? You can also find out what Arches Ranger-led Programs are available at the time of your visit.

The Visitor Center has exhibits to learn about the park as well as a bookstore. Restrooms and drinking water are also available here.

If you’re visiting Arches National Park with kids, be sure to check out the Arches Junior Ranger Program!

Reflected light at Sunrise at Arches National Park Photo Jeepers 800
La Sal Mountain Overlook stop along the scenic drive

Scenic Drive at Arches National Park

The Arches National Park scenic drive is a great way to see the park. There are various points of interest along the scenic drive in the park where you can take photos, go hiking or just stop and enjoy the scenery!

Download the Arches National Park map to navigate along the scenic road to each point of interest.

We highly recommend getting the Arches + Canyonlands GyPSy Guide Audio Tour: use the suggested itineraries in the app tour plan, or divide the commentary to create your own half, full or multi day sightseeing trips. 

When visiting Arches in the winter, the park road might be closed after a snowfall for several hours for plowing. For road conditions getting to Arches, check the Utah Road Weather Forecast or call 1-866-511-UTAH (8824).

Park roads, parking lots, and pullouts can still be icy, especially in shaded areas. Check at the visitor center for the latest information on road conditions.

photographer at Arches National Park
Photographer at Arches National Park

Photography at Arches National Park

The park is filled with endless Arches National Park photography opportunities. You’ve probably seen many iconic Arches National Park photos of Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, Balanced Rock, Turret Arch and more!

If you’re serious about taking photos at Arches, check out these resources:

In the winter if there’s snow, the Arches National Park winter photos you’ll capture are stunning with the contrast of red rock against the white snow!

Check out these awesome photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers we use for winter photography at Arches National Park!

Milky Way over fins at Arches National Park
Milky Way over fins at Arches National Park

Stargazing at Arches National Park

Did you know that Arches National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places to see the stars at night?

Due to its remote location and clear skies, you get to see, and photograph, some of the most incredible views of the night sky… and even the Milky Way! 

Good stargazing spots:

  • Balanced Rock
  • The Windows
  • Garden of Eden Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point
Delicate Arch at Arches National Park
Delicate Arch

Hiking at Arches National Park

One of the best ways to appreciate the park is to explore the Arches National Park hiking trails. There are easy trails for families and casual hikers and strenuous trails for those who aren’t afraid of a challenge.

It’s hard to define the best hikes in Arches National Park, but here our picks for the easy and moderate trails. 

The easy trails we recommend are Balanced Rock, The Windows, and Double Arch. Kids, and adults, will love the Sand Dune Arch trail through a mini slot canyon and a nice shaded area to play in the sand.

The moderate trails we recommend are Delicate Arch, Devil’s Garden Trail or Park Avenue. And for the more difficult primitive trails you can do Fiery Furnace or Tower Arch.

When hiking it is especially important that you take the proper gear and plenty of water as well as dress in moisture-wicking layers.

If you plan to do some Arches National Park winter hikes, we recommend you check with the Rangers for the updated trail conditions. Some trails may require traction devices.

RV camping at Arches National Park
RV camper at Arches National Park

Camping in Arches National Park

If you’re interested in Arches National Park camping there’s only one small campground in the park. You will need to reserve a spot at Devil’s Garden Campground from March 1- October 31.

For Arches National Park winter camping between November 1 and February 28, all camping sites at Arches are first-come, first served.

There are other camping options in the Moab area if you can’t get a reservation in Arches:

More Arches National Park Activities

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Planning an Arches National Park Vacation:

Where to Stay Near Arches National Park:

There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks.

Here are a few of our favorite places to stay near Arches:

  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
  • Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel. 
  • Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
  • Vacation Rentals Near Arches – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.

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