Things You Need To Know About Visiting Arches National Park in May

It’s important to know the weather, things to do, what to pack and where to stay when visiting Arches National Park in May.

Use the tips we give below, with our Arches National Park travel guide, to plan your Arches vacation in May! We share tips for navigating Arches in May during the busy season.

Arches National Park in May
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Arches National Park Packing List

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VISITING ARCHES NATIONAL PARK IN MAY

If you’ll be visiting Arches in May, be aware that the park has implemented a TIMED ENTRY pilot program April through October, 2022:

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. The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks.

Don’t worry if you didn’t get a timed entry ticket. Just plan to enter the park before 6 a.m. One benefit to getting in the park early is you can see and photograph the sunrise at Arches National Park!

You can also plan to visit the park after 5 p.m. when again, you won’t need a ticket to get into Arches. The late afternoon and evening allows you to see and photograph sunset at Arches National Park, or enjoy stargazing at night!

The Spectacles at Arches

ARCHES WEATHER IN MAY

May is the transition month from Arches National Park in the spring and begins the Arches National Park summer vacation season.

You can expect highs near 80 and lows near 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Since you won’t find many shady spots at Arches, we recommend you plan outdoor activities in the cooler mornings and evenings.

Enjoy scenic drives in your car with the AC running, or the hotel swimming pool during the heat of the day.

Things to Do at Arches in May

May is a great time to enjoy all these things to do at Arches National Park. Remember to carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack and wear sunscreen.

Scenic Drive

There is one Arches National Park scenic drive in the park. Plan 2 to 3 hours to drive the road and two short spur roads. If you’ll be stopping to take photos or doing any hiking, then add more time.

The scenic drive is a paved road with pullouts and parking lots perfect for any Arches National Park photography you want to do. Some of the arches and landmarks can be seen from the parking lot, or by a short walk. Others will require a bit of hiking to reach.

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

Delicate Arch at sunset

Hiking

There are Arches National Park hiking trails for all hiking abilities: easy, moderate and strenuous.

If you can, try to explore The Windows Area or Devil’s Garden Trail in the morning. They are both popular hiking areas so morning or late afternoon are the best times to avoid the crowds.

Delicate Arch is a bucket list location in Arches. At sunset you’ll find a ton of photographers which makes it hard to get a parking spot! You may want to plan to hike to Delicate Arch in the morning to avoid the crowds.

All the other shorter hikes like Sand Dune Arch, Skyline Arch and Balanced Rock can be fit in at any time during the day when parking spots open up more frequently.

skyline arch at sunset

Photography

When planning to take Arches National Park photos, sunrise and sunset are the best times of day. If you get up early to photograph sunrise at Arches National Park, you don’t need to worry about getting a timed permit!

Finding photo spots at sunset at Arches National Park is easy, but taking pictures without a ton of people in your shot is the tricky part. We created a 3 day Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide to let you know all the best places and times to take pictures!

Delicate Arch at sunset is the most popular photo spot in Arches. You won’t have this location to yourself so be patient waiting for everyone to take their turn to get a photo under the arch!

If you want to capture photos without people climbing on the rocks at Balanced Rock, Turret Arch or the Windows, you need to enter the park EARLY!

take jaw-dropping photos at Arches & Canyonlands

Stargazing

Definitely take one evening to stay after the sun set and LOOK UP! The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” encourages visiting at night to simply Look up! On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars.

In May you can see the milky way from 11 pm to 4-ish am. It’s a late night but rewarding for those who want to make the effort!

Arches National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

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!

FAQ’S FOR VISITING IN MAY

Is Arches National Park Open in May?

Arches National Park is open 24/7. Visit the NPS site to get the updated operating hours.

Is May a Good Time to Visit Arches National Park?

May is a terrific time for visiting Arches National Park, but you will need to reserve a ticket!

Check out our list of best times to visit Arches National Park with information about what to expect during each season and every month of the year.

What Park Activities Can You Do May?

Things To Do Near Arches National Park

You’ll find a ton of other places to visit in Utah that are near Arches National Park to add to your itinerary:

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Visiting Arches National Park:

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 – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.

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