If you’ve got the time, spending three days in Arches National Park will be amazing because there are so many things to do in this small national park in Utah.
We’ve put together this Arches National Park travel guide and 3-day itinerary that includes everything you should see, do and photograph at this stunning park!
When you visit Arches National Park you’ll see a stunning landscape filled with arches (of course), balanced rocks, fins, and other unique rock formations.
For this Arches National Park Itinerary to spend three days in the park, we recommend getting up early to see and photograph the sunrise, explore the scenic drive and day hikes, photograph the sunset, and do some stargazing at night!
If you’re short on time, we’ve got two more itineraries you might find helpful:
- 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!
When is the Best Time to Visit Arches National Park?
All four seasons at Arches vary quite a bit so you’ll want to know what to expect in order to decide the best time to visit Arches National Park for what you want to see, do and photograph.
The Arches National Park weather and temperatures change drastically from spring, summer, fall and winter.
Arches Spring Weather: 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.
Arches Summer Weather: 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.
Arches Fall Weather: 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
Arches Winter Weather: 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!
Things to Know Before Visiting Arches National Park
As you’re planning your Utah National Park road trip, keep in mind that Arches is a small National Park, but it’s jam-packed with cool features.
You can see natural stone arches, pinnacles, fins, windows and balanced rocks from the scenic drive and along hiking trails.
Arches National Park now has a TIMED ENTRY pilot program April through October. Timed entry tickets will be required to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Visitors will 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.
Reservations for the time entry ticker are first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov. 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 sunrise at Arches National Park anyway.
This 3-day Arches itinerary will include entering the park before 6:00 am for Arches National Park photography at sunrise 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
We’ll be referencing the points of interest along the scenic drive in this Arches three day itinerary.
Use this Google map of the Arches scenic drive points of interest to navigate through the park.
Itinerary for Three Days in Arches National Park
Your three days in the park will be spent exploring 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.
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 more than 2 hours to complete like Delicate Arch and Devil’s Garden.
With three days in Arches, you’ll be able to do these longer hikes. We’ll detail each hiking trail below.
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!
- What to Bring on a Day Hike
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Winter Clothing for Hiking
- Photography Gear for Hiking
Day 1 at Arches National Park
Here’s what we recommend for visiting Arches the first day of your vacation.
Sunrise at La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
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. Here are some Sunrise Photography Tips you might find helpful.
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!
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.
Going to Balanced Rock in the morning means you avoid the crowds and can get photos of these features without people scrambling on the rocks.
We recommend taking the time to walk 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 National Park fact: the upper portion of the rock that is balancing is as large as three school buses!
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. There’s a pit toilet here, and the spot is a great place to enjoy a snack!
We recommend this location for stargazing!!
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!
Since this arch can’t be viewed from the main road, there are two ways to see it: the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint to see it from a distance, or the Delicate Arch hike to see it up close.
We recommend you view this arch from both locations if you can. If you can’t do the long hike to the arch, at least you can see it from this spot!
At the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, it’s a short walk along a level path for about 100 yards to see the arch one mile away.
You can get a little closer by taking the half mile hike that includes some rock stairs to access the Upper Viewpoint. That’s the view you see in the photo above.
Delicate Arch Hike + Sunset
A 3 mile roundtrip hike is the only way to see the famous Delicate Arch up close. The trail is mostly uphill, climbs 480 feet in elevation, and takes 1 to 1 ½ hours if you are reasonably fit. Remember Utah’s high elevation will also make an impact on your hiking ability if you’re not acclimated.
If you’re up to doing this hike to capture sunset photos, 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! 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.
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.
If you can’t do the Delicate Arch hike, we recommend the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint in the late afternoon then heading to Skyline Arch closer to sunset.
It’s a short walk from the parking lot to see the fins and spires that glow during the golden hour light.
You can do a quick stop here before going to Skyline Arch.
Skyline Arch + Sunset
We love Skyline Arch at sunset. 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 at Arches to capture the reflected light on the red rock structure! Plus there are cool bushes and logs you use to compose your photographs!
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!
Day 2 at Arches National Park
Here’s what we recommend for visiting Arches the second day of your vacation.
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 so plan to get here early in the morning. Visiting this area in the morning is also your best chance to get photos without people scrambling on the rocks inside the North Window and around Turret Arch.
Explore the area by walking along the easy 1 mile round trip trail 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.
When you’re done in the Windows area, 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 is a fun area for people to climb around the rocks here.
This location is best photographed in the morning once the sun is a bit higher in the sky to reduce the shadows. It’s also the time when you can get pictures without a lot of people scrambling on the rocks.
Devil’s Garden and Landscape Arch Hike
Next you’ll want to head straight to Devil’s Garden at the end of the scenic drive. Here you’ll find the only Arches National Park campground, picnic areas, pit toilets and drinking water.
The parking lot here fills up during the day so you want to get here in the morning to grab a spot!
It’s also where you access the Devil’s Garden trail. This hike is 7.2 miles round trip, including all spur trails, and takes you to a number of arches. It’s the longest maintained trail at Arches National Park.
One of the best hikes at Arches National Park is going to Landscape Arch. Many people hike 1 mile to this famous arch then turn around and head back.
Arches National Park Fact: Landscape Arch is longer than a football field and the thinnest part of the archway is 8 feet thick.
If you don’t plan to hike the Devil’s Garden Trail, we recommend a stop here anyway. There are massive rock features to see in the picnic areas and at the trailhead.
Along the Devil’s Garden trail you’ll find more arches, spires, and a large concentration of narrow rock walls called “fins.” Fins form when rainwater erodes parallel fractures caused by the uplift of salt deposits below the surface.
After Landscape Arch, the hike follows a “primitive trail” that steeply climbs up and on the sandstone fins. Footing is rocky as you hike over narrow ledges with steep drop-offs. Hikers must use their hands and feet to scramble and climb.
The Primitive Trail is not recommended when rock is wet or icy, or for those uncomfortable with heights.
Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch
If you’re visiting Arches National Park with kids, then Sand Dune Arch is a must-stop. It’s a terrific spot to enjoy some shade and cool sand in the late afternoon.
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.
NOTE: it’s against park policy to climb on the arch.
You can see Broken Arch from a distance – the arch isn’t actually broken. The hike from the Sand Dune Arch trailhead is 1.2 miles roundtrip.
You can also continue the trail beneath the arch to the campground then return to Sand Dune Arch, making it a 2.3 mile hike.
Balanced Rock at Sunset and Night
There are quite a few locations to watch and take pictures of the sunset at Arches National Park. Here are two more options for you.
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!
It’s also one of our favorite places to see and photograph the milky way.
Turret Arch at Sunset
Turret Arch is 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.
More Stargazing at Arches National Park
Tonight you have the option to find a different location in Arches to see the stars or photograph the milky way!
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.”
Day 3 at Arches National Park
Today you’ll take the photos and explore the hikes you didn’t get to do on Days 1 and 2.
Arches Sunrise Photography
The conditions for photography change from day to day. Some mornings you have a blue sky with no color, and others you have clouds in the sky with vibrant color.
Determine which spot you like best for sunrise at Arches National Park and take more photos!
Arches Hiking Trails
Today be sure to explore the other Arches National Park hiking trails you couldn’t do the previous two days:
Park Avenue Trail
- Trailhead & Parking Area: Park Avenue Trailhead
- Distance: 2 mile roundtrip
- Elevation Gain: 187 feet
- Difficulty Level: Easy
Delicate Arch Hiking Trail
- Trailhead & Parking Area: Wolfe Ranch
- Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
- Elevation Gain: 610 feet
- Difficulty Level: Moderate
Fiery Furnace Hiking Trail
- Trailhead & Parking Area: Fiery Furnace
- Distance: Varies depending on route
- Elevation Gain: Varies depending on route
- Difficulty Level: Advanced (requires ranger or permit)
Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch Trail
- Trailhead & Parking Area: Sand Dune Arch
- Distance: 2 miles roundtrip
- Elevation Gain: 226 feet
- Difficulty Level: Easy
Devil’s Garden Trail
- Trailhead & Parking Area: Devil’s Garden Trailhead
- Distance: 1.6 miles roundtrip to Landscape Arch | 7.2 miles roundtrip Primitive Loop
- Elevation Gain: 490 feet
- Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
Arches Sunset Photography
The conditions for photography change from day to day. Some mornings you have a blue sky with no color, and others you have clouds in the sky with vibrant color.
Determine which spot you like best for sunset at Arches National Park and take more photos!
Arches National Park Stargazing
If the weather on Days 1 and 2 didn’t provide good stargazing, be sure to get out to see the stars at Arches or photograph the milky way!
BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps
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 activities 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.