This list of Arches National Park facts includes location, history, geology, weather, and even famous movies that feature the park!
Use this Arches National Park travel guide to learn more about the park before you visit.
We share important things to know to help you plan your Arches National Park Vacation: what to pack, things to do, and where to say.
Here are a few Arches National Park itineraries based on the time you have available to spend at the park:
- Itinerary to Visit Arches National Park in One Day
- Two Days in Arches National Park
- Arches National Park and Canyonlands in One Day
And grab our travel bundle with printable 1, 2 and 3-day itineraries to print and use to plan your vacation!
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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!
Arches National Park Facts
It’s always fun to learn the various facts about US National Parks before you visit.
Arches National Park is home to some of the best sites in the whole world! The iconic red rock formations are something worth traveling thousands of miles alone to see.
Arches National Park was established as a national park in 1971 and stretches across over 119 square miles across southeastern Utah.
This national park gets over 1.5 million visitors every year. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the park, here are some fun facts about Arches National Park.
Basics About Arches National Park
First, let’s start with the basics of Arches National Park:
- Location: North of Moab, Utah
- Date It Became National Park: April 12, 1929
- Acreage: 119.8 mi²
- Number of Visitors: Over 1.8 Million in 2021
- Highest Elevation: Elephant Butte (5,653 feet)
- Lowest Elevation: Visitor Center 4,085 feet
- Average Rainfall: 8 inches (Arches weather)
- Rock colors: Red sandstone dominates the landscape, but you’ll also see greenish rocks that contain iron in a reduced (non-oxidized) state.
Arches National Park photography is best at sunrise and sunset when the red sandstone glows from the rising and setting sun!
Arches National Park Has the Largest Number Of Natural Stone Arches in the World
Arches National Park was named after one of the most prominent features of the national park. There are about 2,000 arches that have been documented, but the park is constantly changing.
Environmental conditions have created fractures and holes in the rocks to provide new arches to be discovered. In 1991 a huge portion of the Landscape Arch rock fell, but the arch is still intact today!
Out of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches inside the national park, none compare to the largest of them that’s found in the Devil’s Garden area of the park.
Landscape Arch has 306 feet span and is the fourth largest Arch in the world. This arch is the longest span of any arch in North America.
What is the Tallest Arch in Arches National Park?
You’ll find the tallest arch in the Windows Section of the park. The southern part of Double Arch is 112 feet tall! It’s also the third longest arch at 144 feet across.
The Top Portion of Balanced Rock is the Size of Three School Buses
A balancing rock is a naturally occurring geological formation featuring a large rock or boulder, sometimes of substantial size, resting on other rocks that often look precariously balanced. In reality, these rocks only appear to be balancing but are in fact firmly connected to a base rock by a pedestal or stem.
Balanced Rock at Arches National Park was made of two different types of sandstone, the boulder was formed when the Dewey Bridge mudstone on the bottom eroded beneath the slick rock Entrada Sandstone on top. The attachment of the two types of rock make it appear to literally hang in the balance.
This massive desert rock weighs in at an estimated 3,577 tons, as much as 27 Blue Whales and stands 128 feet tall. The big rock on top is the size of three yellow school buses!
Delicate Arch is on Utah’s License Plate
Delicate Arch is the most widely recognized landmark in Arches National Park. It’s been depicted on Utah license plates and a postage stamp commemorating Utah’s centennial anniversary of admission to the Union in 1996.
One of the best hikes in Arches National Park takes you to the base of Delicate Arch. It’s a moderate hike with a steep elevation gain so it’s not a trail that everyone can do. Luckily, you can at least see the famous arch from a distance at the Lower Delicate Arch Overlook!
Delicate Arch is also the most popular sunset photography spot at Arches. You’ll share the small area with many others who want to watch and photograph sunset from this spot!
Temperatures at Arches Can Fluctuate Over 40 Degrees in a Single Day
Arches National Park is located in the high desert, part of the Colorado Plateau. Temperatures can range from 0 F to over 100 F depending on the season.
The rainfall average is very low, but Arches does experience rainstorms that often cause flash flooding. When it snows at Arches in the winter, it usually melts quickly.
The extreme Arches National Park weather from summer to winter, and the day to night temperature fluctuations, cause the water that seeps into the rocks to expand when it freezes and contracts when it thaws. This weathering is one of the erosive forces that shape the unique structures in the park
Arches National Park Has Over 700 Species of Plants and Animals
For being a desert southwest national park, there are a surprisingly large amounts of plants within the park. Some of these species include:
- Cacti and Succulents
- Trees and Shrubs
Many of these species have been native to the park for more than 100 years!
You can also find a wide variety of animal life there too:
- Toads and Frogs
- Snakes and Lizards
- Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and Swallows
- Coyote, Mule Deer and Pronghorn
The Soil at Arches Is Alive
Cryptobiotic crust, or biological soil crust, is made up of lichen, mosses, green algae, fungi, and cyanobacteria. One of Earth’s oldest living organisms, cyanobacteria help form the soil and generate oxygen.
The biological crust remains dormant during the dry parts of the year and only moves around when wet. It plays an essential role in protecting the land from erosion and should not be stepped on when hiking at Arches National Park.
Arches National Park is a Dark Sky Park
In 2019 Arches National Park became certified as an official International Dark Sky Park. It’s recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.
We enjoy photographing the milky way from April through October. Our favorite spots are: Balanced Rock, Panorama Point, The Windows and Sand Dune Arch.
Arches is a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night. Be sure to use a headlamp with a red light!
Arches National Park is In Many Famous Movies
Over the years, Arches National Park has been featured in many movies like Rio Grande, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Star Trek, Wagon Master, and Geronimo.
That’s a pretty cool list of interesting facts about Arches National Park, right!? This national park is one of the best national parks in the United States and so worth the visit!
Tips for Visiting Arches National Park
As you’re planning your Utah National Park road trip, check out these tips and activities for 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.
NOTE: Arches National Park now has a TIMED ENTRY pilot program. 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. If you plan to see or photograph the sunrise at Arches National Park, be sure to check the exact time for sunrise so you can arrive in the park at least 30 minutes before the actual time.
Best Time 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.
- Arches in March: Highs 64 | Lows 35 degrees F
- Arches in April: Highs 71 | Lows 42 degrees F
- Arches in May: Highs 82 | Lows 51 degrees F
It is not unusual to get rain or even snowfall in March. We recommend you watch the weather and pack a winter coat, winter hat, and winter gloves when going to Arches in early spring. A fleece jacket, hat, and gloves should be fine later in the spring.
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!
- Arches in June: Highs 93 | Lows 60 degrees F
- Arches in July: Highs 100 | Lows 67 degrees F
- Arches in August: Highs 97 | Lows 66 degrees F
With the hot summer temperatures, you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a sunhat, sunscreen 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.
- Arches in September: Highs 85 | Lows 54 degrees F
- Arches in October: Highs 71 | Lows 40 degrees F
- Arches in November: Highs 55 | Lows 30 degrees F
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.
- Arches in December: Highs 45 | Lows 23 degrees F
- Arches in January: Highs 44 | Lows 22 degrees F
- Arches in February: Highs 52 | Lows 28 degrees F
During the winter it is especially important to dress in layers. We recommend an insulted winter jacket, fleece jacket, warm 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 Scenic Drive Map
Use this Google map of the Arches scenic drive points of interest to navigate through the park.
Arches & Canyonlands AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Planning an Arches National Park Vacation:
- Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
- Things to Do at Arches National Park
- Arches National Park Packing List
- Arches National Park with Kids
- Arches National Park Photography
- Arches National Park Tours
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.
- Places to Stay Near Arches National Park
- Hotels Near Arches National Park
- Places to Stay Near Arches National Park with Kids
- Arches National Park Camping
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 actiities 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.
BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps