Your list of Arches National Park vacation ideas must include the awesome hiking trails at Arches.
The popular Devil’s Garden hiking trail can be tailored to fit the time you have available and the points of interest you want to see.
The Devil’s Garden Trail, including the Primitive Loop, is the longest maintained trail at Arches National Park and boasts the largest concentration of significant arches in the world.
Use our Devil’s Garden Trail Guide to create the prefect hiking itinerary to make the most of exploring this area.
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WHAT TO PACK FOR HIKING AT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
To get the most out of visiting this park, you must be prepared with the right clothing and gear.
DOWNLOAD our Arches National Park packing list for summer and winter.
Hiking Shoes – Injuries from improper footwear is a common problem that casual visitors and hikers encounter. To make your trip as safe and enjoyable as possible, avoid smooth-soled shoes and only wear sturdy shoes with ample tread.
→ Check out the Merrell Moab hiking shoes we use.
Hydration and Food – Due to the high desert and altitude in Southeastern Utah, you should drink at least one gallon of water per day, and always carry water with you during all hiking activities (water is also available at the Arches National Park Visitor Center and at the Devils Garden trailhead and Campground).
Lip Balm and Lotion – Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin. You’ll want to carry lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion to apply as needed when you’re out exploring the trails.
Clothing – Summers in the park mean soaring temperatures, unrelenting sunlight, and low humidity. To keep cool, wear light colored, loose fitting clothing that does not absorb sunlight. Also avoid sun burn by wearing a wide brimmed hat and by generously applying sunscreen to any parts of your body that are exposed to the sun.
During the winter, wearing the right clothing is important to stay dry and warm. Take note that snow and ice can accumulate and make popular trails quite slippery. That’s why trekking poles and traction devices for your shoes are essential. It’s also just as easy to become dehydrated in the cold as it is in the heat. It’s important to carry plenty of water during the winter, and not just during the summer.
National Parks Pass – Before you visit Arches National Park be sure to pack your The America the Beautiful Annual Pass.
Other items we recommend – US national parks packing list
- Darn Tough socks
- Fleece jacket
- Buff headbands
- Hand sanitizer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera gear – DOWNLOAD the free checklist
- Photography gear for hiking
DEVIL’S GARDEN TRAIL GUIDE
Hiking Tips for the Devil’s Garden Trail
Here are a few tips for hiking the Devil’s Garden Trail, or hiking at Arches in general
- Water & snacks: Carry plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important, even during cooler weather. Also, eat plenty of healthy snacks and food.
- Sun protection: Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun at any time of year. The only shade on this trail is underneath the arches themselves.
- Navigation: Watch for cairns and bring a map if you plan to hike the primitive trail.
- Full Loop Trail: 7.2 miles round trip, including all spur trails
- Only Landscape Arch: 2 miles round trip
- Full Loop Trail: 4-5 hours
- Only Landscape Arch: 1 hour
The first part of the trail to Landscape Arch is well-traveled and considered an easy hike.
The remaining portion of the trail is primitive and difficult.
Most casual tourists hike the first part of the Devil’s Garden trail to Landscape Arch.
The rest of the trail requires scrambling up and over long, narrow sections of slickrock with steep drop-offs. When the rocks are wet or snow is present, Park Rangers advise not hiking this section..
TRAILHEAD INFORMATION Arches National Park is located five miles north of the town of Moab, Utah. Drive 19 miles into the park to the end of the main road at the Devils Garden parking area. The trailhead is at the end of the main road where it makes a small loop.
Arrive EARLY to avoid the parking hassles. There are only 150 parking spaces that fill up quickly during peak usage. Park in designated spots as overflow parking is not allowed.
Things to See Along the Devil’s Garden Trail
About 0.25 miles from the trailhead, turn right at the signed junction to reach Tunnel Arch.
The arch is formed through a thick section of sandstone creating the look of a tunnel
Pine Tree Arch
Backtrack to the spur trail and continue on to see Pine Tree Arch.
This arch is named for the junipers that grow underneath the arch.
You can walk directly through this arch and enjoy the shade it creates.
Return to the main trail after visiting Tunnel and Pine Tree arches.
At 0.9 miles from the trailhead (and 0.1 mile before Landscape Arch) you will see where the Primitive Trail returns to the main trail on the right.
Landscape Arch is 1 mile from the trailhead. It is 290.1 feet across and considered to be the longest arch formation in the world.
PHOTO TIP: Photograph various angles of Landscape Arch as each view along the trail provides a different perspective. Laurent Martres in his book Photographing the Southwest, Volume 1 says the best season to photograph Landscape Arch is late spring to early summer, when there are no shadows on the arch in early morning. The view in complete sunshine is only available mid-morning during the rest of the year. Use a moderate warming filter will help restore the rich color saturation of the sandstone.
Most hikers turn back after visiting Landscape Arch, which allows for a more peaceful hike if you decide to keep going.
The trail after Landscape Arch becomes more primitive. Watch for cairns along the route as the trail now crosses slickrock.
You will see a spur trail to the left at about 1.20 miles from the trailhead. This trail takes you to Navajo and Partition Arches.
Navajo Arch is well shaded and a wonderful place to sit and relax.
PHOTO TIP: Photograph all angles of Navajo Arch – the front, back and under the arch.
PHOTO TIP: Photograph the front and back sides of the arch.
Be careful on the back side as there is a steep drop off.
Return to the main trail.
Double O Arch
Double O Arch is about 2 miles from the trailhead. It’s a 150 foot tall sandstone column with a small arch at the bottom and a large arch stacked on top.
PHOTO TIP: Double O Arch is difficult to photograph from the front side. Climb through to the back side to get a better angle.
Most hikers turn around at this point and return the way they came.
Just beyond Double O Arch there is a junction. The trail on the left is a 0.4 mile long spur trail which leads to the Dark Angel, a 125 foot sandstone spire. Backtrack to Double O Arch, this time keeping left at the junction to continue the Primitive Loop Trail.
HIKING THE DEVIL’S GARDEN PRIMITIVE TRAIL
The Primitive Trail is marked with a warning “Caution, Primitive Trail, Difficult Hiking”.
The trail requires constant awareness of the cairns that mark the route.
One section is a bit tricky as you hug the side of a rock and walk along a lip just a few inches wide. The drop below the lip makes the crossing particularly intimidating.
Except for a few sections, and the fact I wasn’t mentally prepared for the length of the hike and was running out of water, the trail wasn’t much harder than what I had already traveled.
About 0.4 miles from the beginning of the Primitive Trail near double O Arch there is a spur trail on the right 0.2 miles long to Private Arch.
The Primitive Trail is 2 miles long in length starting at Double O Arch until it rejoins the main trail near Landscape Arch.
RESOURCES TO PLAN A TRIP TO ARCHES
- Arches National Park Vacation Ideas
- Best Time to Visit Arches
- Things to Do at Arches
- Arches National Park Hiking Trails
- Arches Packing List
- Arches National Park Camping
- Where to Stay in Moab Near Arches
- Tours Near Moab, Utah
More Places to Visit Near Arches
- Canyonlands Island in the Sky
- Canyonlands Needles
- Dead Horse Point State Park
- Moab Adventures: Cool Things to Do
Where to Stay Near Arches:
Arches National Park camping can only be done at the one small campground.
There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. You’ll find restaurants and places to shop which adds to the appeal to find accommodations in 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
READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Places to stay near Arches National Park in Moab
- 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.
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!