Best Short Hikes at Arches National Park

Home to over 2,000 natural stone arches and other cool features, you’ll find short hikes at Arches National Park to experience the unique beauty up close. This Arches National Park travel guide will detail the best short hiking trails, recommended hiking gear, and tips for visiting the park.

This Utah National Park is a haven for hikers of all skill levels. However, the short hiking trails at Arches are particularly suited for beginner to intermediate hikers and those with time constraints.

8 short hikes at Arches National Park

The well-maintained trails and short hiking routes offer a manageable challenge for novices, and also for families with children.

We live a few hours away from Arches National Park so we get to visit often. The tips we share here are based on our experience hiking at Arches throughout the years!

Due to the desert environment at Arches, it’s important to stay hydrated, use sun protection, and get the latest weather information before hitting the trails any time of year.

We’ve made it easy for you to plan your Arches National Park vacation with these done-for-you itineraries based on the time you have to spend at the park:

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!

Arches National Park Hiking Tips

Arches Timed Entry Ticket: From April 1 to October 31 you’ll need an Arches Timed Entry ticket to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. If can can’t get a ticket, you can still visit the park by going in before 6 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Those are the best times to enjoy sunrise at Arches and avoid the crowds anyway!

Arches Weather: When planning your vacation be sure you know what Arches National Park weather to expect during the time of your visit. Spring and Fall you’ll enjoy the most moderate temperatures and weather. Summer will be HOT with highs near 100 degrees F. Winter is our favorite time of year to visit, but you’ll need to be prepared for cold weather and the possibility of snow storms.

Arches Hiking Gear: One of the best Arches National Park activities is hiking. It’s important to be prepared with the right clothing and gear for hiking at Arches!

  • Wicking clothing: Loose-fitting, light-colored, wicking clothing for spring, summer, and fall.
  • Sunhat: Sun protection year round.
  • Fleece jacketLayers are key during the spring/fall.
  • Insulated jacket: You’ll want a heavier jacket, hat, and gloves during the winter.
  • Darn Tough hiking socks: Do not wear cotton socks. Darn Tough Socks are comfortable, breathe well, and prevent blisters!
  • Sturdy hiking shoesHiking shoes or boots should be sturdy with good tread and traction. Use waterproof shoes in the winter.
  • Water: Carry and drink at least two liters of water. Use refillable water bottles or hydration packs. You can get water at the Visitor Center and Devil’s Garden Trailhead. We carry Propel powder packets to add to our water to help replace electrolytes.
  • Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin! Due to the dry heat, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!
  • Snacks: Pack salty and easy to digest snacks to replace electrolytes.
hiking gear and clothing

Best Short Hikes at Arches National Park

Some of the best hikes in Arches National Park are short – we classify a short hike being LESS THAN 3 miles roundtrip. There are also quite a few that are very short, easy walks so all abilities and ages can see the incredible landscapes at this park!

There is not much shade at Arches National Park, so it’s best to hit the trails in the early morning or later in the day when the temperatures aren’t as hot, and the sun isn’t as intense!

We’ve ordered the list of short hiking trails based on location along the Arches National Park scenic drive heading into the park from the Visitor Center.

Park Avenue short hike
Park Avenue hike

Park Avenue Short Hike

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: Park Avenue Trailhead
  • Distance: 1 mile one way or 2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 187 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Park Avenue is the first parking lot on the left as you drive into the park from the Visitor Center.

From the Park Avenue parking lot there are some rock steps to navigate down to the main trail along the canyon. The trail follows the bottom of a canyon below some of the park’s gigantic and well-known monoliths.

The Park Avenue Trail is a one-way trail if you have two cars or a shuttle vehicle. The trail is a little over one mile taking you from the railhead to the Courthouse Towers parking lot. This is where you would leave your second vehicle or have someone that doesn’t want to hike pick you up.

If that’s not an option, just head back the way you came through the towering sandstone for a nice 2 mile round-trip adventure.

Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock Short Hike

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: Balanced Rock Trailhead
  • Distance: 0.3 mile roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 45 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

As you continue along the scenic drive, you’ll come to Balanced Rock on the right side of the road.

Yes, you can see the rock from the parking lot, but we think it’s worth the time to walk along the trail around the base of Balanced Rock. It’s an easy, short loop hike that takes you close to and around the Balanced Rock.

There is one section with a few rock steps to make the full loop, but you can just as easily stay on the paved portions of the trail and not make the full loop.

Balanced Rock is a terrific spot for watching and photographing the sunset at Arches National Park!

Turret Arch at Arches National Park
Turret Arch

The Windows Section Short Hikes

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: The Windows Trailhead
  • Distance: 1 mile roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 187 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

The Windows Section of Arches National Park is a cool area with a lot to see. The Windows Trail loop is under 2 miles. The trail includes a few areas with rock steps in order to complete the full loop.

You’ll see these two features along the loop hike: North and South Windows and Turret Arch. From the viewpoint of South Window, there’s a primitive loop trail to see the back side of North and South Window. This trail ends at the parking lot about 50 yards north of the main trailhead.

Double Arch at Arches NP
Double Arch

Double Arch Short Hike

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: Double Arch Trailhead
  • Distance: 0.5 mile roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 32 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

On the other side of the Windows parking area is the Double Arch trail. The trail is an easy, flat 0.5-mile round trip, making it accessible to hikers of all ages and abilities.

It’s easy and super short. You can see it a bit from the parking lot, but you’ll definitely want to get up close to this one. The sheer size and complexity of these two side-by-side arches are a testament to the power and artistry of natural erosion.

Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint

Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint Short Hike

Delicate Arch is a must-see when visiting Arches! But the Delicate Arch hike to the arch itself is moderate to difficult.

Luckily there’s a short walk to see the arch from the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. The viewpoint is about 100 yards from the lower viewpoint parking lot where you can see the arch about a mile away.

You can also hike a short 0.5 miles with a few stairs to climb to view the arch from the Upper Viewpoint. You can’t get all the way to Delicate Arch from hereBut it does provide a slightly less obstructed view from what you see at the Lower Viewpoint.

Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch Short Hikes

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: Sand Dune Arch
  • Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 226 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

The Sand Dune Arch trail is a spur off the Broken Arch trail. It’s a fun and unique hike because the arch is located in an ‘almost’ slot canyon.

If you’re visiting Arches National Park with kids, Sand Dune Arch sits in the shade for most of the day so it’s a great hike to take a break and let the kids play in the cool sand!

Broken Arch back side
Broken Arch back side

The Broken Arch trail continues past the Sand Dune Trail. This trail often gets bypassed, but it’s an easy, flat hike and you won’t encounter many people on it.

After reaching Broken Arch, it’s a difficult scramble up a slickrock section to continue through the arch. You can also hike to Tapestry Arch and the Devil’s Garden campground from here.

Skyline Arch at Arches National Park
Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch Short Hike

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: Skyline Arch
  • Distance: 0.4 mile roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 28 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Skyline Arch sits high atop rocks in the Devils Garden area and can be seen from the scenic drive. Most people stop at the pullout, take a picture, then drive on.

We recommend the short hike to get a good view of the arch! You can also drive to the Devil’s Campground amphitheater and take the paved path to see Skyline Arch from the other side.

Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch Short Hike

  • Trailhead & Parking Area: Devil’s Garden Trailhead
  • Distance: 1.9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 40 feet
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Landscape Arch is the longest arch in North America at 306 feet! It’s a popular point of interest along the Devil’s Garden Trail. Many people will hike to the arch and back.

We recommend you also take the two short and easy spur trails near the beginning of the hike to visit Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

From this point, the moderate to difficult Devil’s Garden Trail begins where you’ll see arches, spires, and fins (narrow rock walls).

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Hikes Near Arches National Park

Places to Stay at Arches National Park

Arches National Park Packing List

Use our Arches National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting any time of year! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

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