Itinerary to Visit Arches National Park in One Day

Our friends often ask us what they should see and do at Arches National Park in one day. We recommend at least two days to visit Arches, but it can be done in one day.

Use this Arches National Park travel guide and itinerary that lists everything you should see, do and photograph in a single day!

Arches National Park one day itinerary

The Arches National Park landscape is filled with arches (of course), balanced rocks, fins, and other unique rock formations.

In order to get the most out of this Arches National Park Itinerary to spend one day in the park, we recommend getting up early to see and photograph the sunrise, explore the scenic drive, take a hike or two, photograph the sunset, and enjoy stargazing at night!

Yes, it’s a full day starting early and ending late, but you won’t regret the time spent at Arches National Park!!

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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!

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.

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!

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.

With the cooler temperatures at night, you will definitely want to bring a fleece jacket, warm 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 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!

Check out these awesome photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers we use!

Visiting Arches National Park

As you’re planning your Utah National Park road trip, this one day Arches National Park itinerary will allow you to check this park from your bucket list!

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 Timed Entry program runs April through October. 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 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.

For this one day itinerary, you’ll go into the park before 6:00 am to sunrise at Arches National Park so you don’t need to worry about getting an entry ticket for the date you’ll be there! Be sure to check the exact time for sunrise so you can arrive in the park at least 30 minutes before the actual time.

Arches National Park Scenic Drive Map

Use this Google map of the Arches scenic drive points of interest to navigate through the park.

arches scenic drive map

Itinerary to Visit Arches National Park in One Day

When people ask us “How Many Days Should I Spend in Arches National Park”, we always recommend at least two days.

But you can still see a lot of Arches in one full day if you’re willing to get an early start in the morning to see the sunrise and stay out until sunset. Here’s the itinerary we suggest you follow.

Photograph the Sunrise at Arches National Park

There are two locations we recommend for sunrise that don’t require hours of your day hiking. If you choose to photograph La Sal Viewpoint at sunrise, then you can follow the scene drive as outlined below.

If you prefer to capture Turret Arch at sunrise, you’ll drive straight there, then continue to follow the scenic drive points from that location. You’ll then hit the stops you missed on your way out of the park at the end of the day.

→ READ MORE: Sunrise Photography Tips

Reflected-light-at-Sunrise-at-Arches-National-Park-Photo-Jeepers-800 (1)

La Sal Viewpoint at Sunrise

At this viewpoint you’ll enjoy a 360-degree view of the La Sal Mountains to the east and the formations like Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, and The Organ in the Courthouse Towers area. You’ll also see a distant view of Balanced Rock and the Windows Section along the horizon.

At this location you will see the sun crossing the horizon, but this Arches sunrise spot is a favorite because of the orange/red glow reflected onto the various formations. There are many ways to photograph this area so use your creativity in composing the picture.

The Organ at sunrise in Arches National Park Photo Jeepers 800

Courthouse Towers

Continue down the Arches National Park scenic drive to get closer to The Organ, Three Gossips and Sheep structures. 

Stop at any of the pullouts on the right before you get to the Courthouse parking lot. This will give you the best view of The Organ. The golden light at sunrise is stunning!


Turret Arch at Sunrise

The Windows Section of Arches National Park is a popular area. This view of Turret Arch through the North Window is one of the best sunrise spots in Arches National Park.

NOTE: To access this spot to see the arch through the North window takes a bit of scrambling up a rock wall to a small ledge.

The Windows is a popular area and the parking lot fills up fast. We recommend you try to get here early in the day.

You can see the windows from the parking lot, but if you have the time, we recommend the easy 1 mile round trip hike that takes you to the North and South Windows, also known as the Spectacles. 

Continue along the trail in the Windows area to access Turret Arch.

Double Arch photo at Arches National Park Photo Jeepers 800

Double Arch

When you’re done photographing Turret Arch and the North and South Window, head across the parking lot to Double Arch.

You’ll see two arches that share the same stone foundation formed by downward water erosion instead of side-to-side water erosion like most of the other arches in the park.

To really see this arch, you’ll need to walk the short easy trail – this one is worth it, and you should have time!

This location is best photographed in the morning once the sun is a bit higher in the sky to reduce the shadows. And it’s the best time to take pictures without a lot of people scrambling on the rocks.

This is a good location to get a wide angle photo to show the landscape around the arch. And definitely move around the area to capture different angles and perspectives.

Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

Explore the Arches Scenic Drive: Photo Spots and Hiking Trails

Your day will be spent driving along the 43-mile Arches scenic drive and its two spur roads. The drive itself with stops to take photos takes 2 to 3 hours. 

The road is paved and offers Arches National Park photography spots from the pullouts along the road or in the parking lots. We’ll share photo tips for each stop.

CHECK OUT our Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide if you’re serious about taking the best photos at Arches!

Some of the arches and landmarks along the scenic drive can be reached by a short walk from the parking lot. But, some of the best hikes in Arches National Park are longer and take an hour or more to complete. 

Note that you’ll only be able to hike one or two of these longer trails during this one day itinerary. You may need to choose between Delicate Arch and Devil’s Garden.

Keep in mind that most of the trails at Arches are fully exposed to the sun so be sure to stay hydrated, eat salty snacks, and wear sunscreen, even in the winter!

We’ve listed the stops in the order we recommend as you drive into the park from the entrance.

La Sal Viewpoint – stop here for sunrise as detailed above, or on your way out of the park at the end of the day.

Courthouse Towers – stop here for sunrise as detailed above, or on your way out of the park at the end of the day.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is the next stop found on the right. There are other pullouts between Courthouse Towers and Balanced Rock that provide photographic opportunities, like Petrified Dunes Viewpoint.

We like to spend the time walking along the .3 mile round trip trail around this landmark to photograph the various angles that all look different!

There’s also a pullout right after the Balanced Rock parking lot that provides another view!

Fun fact: the upper portion of the rock that is balancing is as large as three school buses!

The Windows, Turret Arch and Double Arch – stop here for sunrise as detailed above, or now as you’re navigating along the scenic drive.

Panorama Point

This viewpoint is at the top of a hill so you get a panoramic view of the park! You can see the La Sal mountains, Fiery Furnace and Devil’s Garden.

Delicate Arch viewpoint at Arches National Park

Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Continue along the main road then turn right to access Delicate Arch. This iconic arch is a must-see when visiting Arches National Park! Unfortunately, it can’t be viewed from the main road.

It’s worth the short hike of 100 yards along a level path to see the arch one mile away from the Lower Delicate Viewpoint.

If you’re up for a half mile hike with some stairs to climb, there is an Upper Viewpoint that takes you a little closer.


Delicate Arch Hike

The only way to see the famous Delicate Arch up close, is to hike 3 miles roundtrip on a trail that climbs 480 feet in elevation. The hike is mostly uphill and takes 1 to 1 ½ hours if you are reasonably fit. 

This is a popular location to watch and photograph the sunset. If you’re up to doing this hike, we recommend you start out about 3 hours before sunset. That way you have plenty of time to take photos of Delicate Arch before you need to find your spot to capture the golden hour light at sunset! (See more about photographing Delicate Arch at sunset below).

Fiery Furnace at Arches National Park

Fiery Furnace

Go back to the main road and turn right. You’ll pass Salt Valley Overlook then come to the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to see the fins and spires.

Sand Dune Arch photo spot at Arches by Photo Jeepers

Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch

The next point of interest along the scenic drive is a popular stop if you’re visiting Arches National Park with kids!

Sand Dune Arch is one stop that’s usually shaded and cool. The easy hike takes you through a narrow slot between fins to a sandy area with many places for the kids to explore and play in the sand.

Take note that it’s against park policy to climb on the arch.

Broken Arch at Arches National Park by Photo Jeepers

The 1.7 mile Broken Arch loop trail is accessed from the same trailhead as Sand Dune Arch and can be seen off in the distance. You’ll need to decide if you have time for this hike based on the other things you plan to do.

skyline arch at sunset Photo Jeepers 800

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch is the next point of interest along the scenic drive. It sits high atop rocks in the Devil’s Garden area and can be seen from the road.

You can take a photo from the pullout, but the short and easy trail gets you closer to the arch. This is a really nice sunset photo spot to capture the reflected light on the red rock structure!

Landscape Arch at Arches National Park by Photo Jeepers

Devil’s Garden and Landscape Arch

The scenic drive ends at Devil’s Garden where you can see massive fins. There is a nice picnic area to take a break surrounded by amazing landscape.

Exploring the Devil’s Garden trail takes you to a number of arches. At 7.2 miles round trip, including all spur trails, it’s the longest maintained trail at Arches National Park. 

There’s also the option to hike 1 mile to the famous Landscape Arch then turn around and head back. This arch is longer than a football field and the thinnest part of the archway is 8 feet thick.

If you aren’t hiking to Delicate Arch, then we recommend you explore the Devil’s Garden area for this one day itinerary at Arches, at least hiking to Landscape Arch! But you should have time for the two spur trails to see Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

That’s the end of the paved scenic drive at Arches National Park. Return the way you came back to the Visitor Center and entrance to the park.

Park Avenue at Arches National Park by Photo Jeepers

Park Avenue

As you head back out of the park, you’ll make one last stop at Park Avenue near the entrance. From the parking area follow the wide, paved trail for about 100 yards to the viewpoint.

Photograph Sunset at Arches National Park

Here are the locations we recommend for photographing sunset at Arches National Park. Even if you’ve visited these locations already during the day, if you want amazing sunset photos, here’s where we recommend you go. It’s up to YOU to decide what images you want to capture!

delicate arch bowl at sunset at Arches National Park

Delicate Arch at Sunset

Delicate Arch is THE best sunset spot in Arches National Park to capture the red-orange glow on the arch and surrounding landscape.

The trail to see the arch up close is 3 miles roundtrip and climbs 480 feet in elevation. The hike is mostly uphill and takes 1 to 1 ½ hours if you are reasonably fit. Be sure to take a headlamp for the hike down after sunset.

Delicate Arch is a main attraction at Arches for tourists and photographers who want photos of arches in Utah.

photographer at Delicate Arch at sunset at Arches National Park

Be sure to practice patience and courtesy while you wait your turn to get your picture taken under the arch. Walk around the area and try a variety of basic photography techniques to photograph the arch.

Delicate Arch viewpoint at sunset

Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint at Sunset

If you’re not up for the hike, you can still see this iconic landmark from the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. There is an Upper Viewpoint that takes you a little closer and requires walking ½ mile with some stairs.

Balanced Rock at sunset with a colorful sky of clouds

Balanced Rock at Sunset

Balanced Rock is a popular feature in the park which makes it hard to get a picture without people climbing around the area, especially at sunset.

But it’s a terrific location if you have a vibrant sky full of color!

Turret Arch at sunset

Turret Arch at Sunset

Turret Arch can be seen through the North Window at Arches National Park, but it does require a bit of precarious scrambling.

It’s one of the best spots for sunrise AND sunset at Arches National Park. At sunrise you have the golden glow on Turret Arch through the window. At sunset you can capture the setting sun on the horizon.

It’s a tough location any time of day to get a photo without people hiking in the window opening. (That’s when Photoshop comes in handy!) But the people in the picture also tell the story of the location.


End the Day Stargazing at Arches National Park 

We know it’s been a long day if you were up for sunrise, but stargazing at Arches is a must-do! The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” invites you to take one evening to enjoy a star-filled sky! 

Arches National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing? It gets that distinction 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 Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and 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 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.
take jaw-dropping photos at Arches & Canyonlands

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