Visiting Arches National Park: Everything You Need To Know

We absolutely love visiting Arches National Park every chance we get.

Since we live so close, we have a ton of tips to share! Use our Arches National Park travel guide for planning your vacation.

tips for visiting Arches National Park

Arches may be a small park in comparison to others, but it’s a Utah national park bucket-list destination for all the things you can see, do and photograph there!

If you plan on visiting Arches, and are in need of information about the park from local experts, then keep reading!

Check out these Arches National Park itineraries based on the number of days you have to spend at the park:

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Arches National Park Packing List

DOWNLOAD and print the packing checklist for Arches National Park!

Outdoor Gear we recommend! Travel Gear & Hiking Gear

outdoor gear we use

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!

Things to Know Before Visiting Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a few miles north of the fun outdoor adventure town of Moab, Utah.

The amazing hiking trails in Arches weave through a land of contrasting colors, awe-inspiring sunsets, and exquisite landforms.

Be sure to pack your camera to take jaw-dropping Arches National Park photos!

We visit many times and never tire of photographing the natural rock formations that include 2,000 stone archways, giant balanced rocks, and massive pinnacles that immediately draw you in to explore and photograph.

We recommend at least Two Days in Arches National Park, but if you’re limited on time, you can see Arches National Park in One Day.

If you’re really in a time-crunch, you can even see Arches National Park and Canyonlands in One Day, but it will all be by car driving through both parks.

People have often asked us which park is better, Arches or Canyonlands. That’s a tough question to answer since they both offer different landscapes to see and photograph. So that’s one you’ll have to determine on your own!

Best Time to Visit Arches National Park

Seasonally, the best time to visit Arches National Park during the winter off-season, between November and February.

Not only will you avoid the intense heat, but you can enjoy some spectacular winter scenery, without the crowds and traffic that can make visiting during the high-season a bit daunting.

Check out these articles we’ve written about each season or month specifically:  Arches National Park weather, services, and things to do during that time of year.

Fiery Furnace at sunset with snow

Arches Hours of Operation

Arches National Park is open 24 hours a day. However, we recommend avoiding the crowds and arriving either before 8 am or after 3 pm.

Plus, hiking will also be a bit easier since the temperatures are much cooler. The light at this time of day is also better for photography anyway.

PLEASE NOTE: Arches will be doing 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.

Entry fees to Arches National Park

Admission to Arches National Park is good for seven days. You can come and go any time with your seven-day pass. You can pay your fee at the entrance station, at the self-pay station outside the visitor center, or online at pay.gov.

BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: However, if you plan on visiting nearby Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or the Canyonlands Needles District, or any other US National Park during the year, you may want to consider purchasing the US National Park Pass – it will definitely help you save money(Did you know when you buy the National Parks Pass from REI, they donate 10% to the National Park Foundation?)

Arches Weather

Since Arches is part of the Colorado Plateau high desert region; this area will experience enormous temperature variations by as much as 40 degrees in twenty-four hours. That’s why, in terms of Arches National Park weather, the most temperate and popular seasons at the park are in spring, between April and May, and in fall, between September and October.

During the mild spring and fall seasons, daytime temperatures average highs of between 60 to 80 degrees F and lows of between 30 to 50 degrees F. During the scorching summers, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees F, while temperatures during the winter are generally between 30 and 50 degrees F, with lows between 0 and 20 degrees F.

We always carry cold weather clothing ‘just in case’ if we’re visiting Arches any time from September to June. 

Pet Regulations at Arches National Park

Pets are allowed within the National Park, but must be leashed at all times. Pets must also never be left unattended and owners are required to pick up after their pets.

Additionally, pets are welcome on all park roads, parking areas, picnic areas, and in the Devils Garden campground. However, pets are not allowed at overlooks, on or off hiking trails, and in the visitor center. 

Arches National Park Services

Be prepared for limited services when visiting Arches National Park. There are no medical facilities, wifi services, gas stations, dump sites, cell phone towers, or dining options on the park.

However, water is available year round at the visitor center, Devils Garden campground, and seasonally, at the Devils Garden trailhead.

Remember though, the city of Moab is just a few miles down the road from the visitor center and has an assortment of facilities that you can enjoy.

Additionally, you are permitted to camp at the Devils Garden Campground and picnic at Devils Garden, Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Arches Visitor Center, and across the road from Balanced Rock.

Arches National Park Map

Arches National Park map

You can find a printable map, trail guide, and other trip planning information in the Arches National Park Newspaper.

Parking at Arches National Park

Some of the most popular parking lots in the park include The Windows, Delicate Arch, and Devils’ Garden, all of which fill up between 9 am and 4 pm. If you plan to visit these areas, we suggest getting there early morning or late afternoon.

When parking lots are full, remember that you can only park in designated areas and are not permitted to drive off road. If no spots are available, do not wait around and block traffic. Instead, move on and try to find a parking spot elsewhere. 

Getting to Arches National Park

From Grand Junction, Colorado, take I-70 west and follow the highway until Thompson Springs. Take exit 182 and follow US-191 south towards Moab. Continue along US-191 until you see Arches National Park Entrance Road on your left. The whole journey should take an hour and 40 minutes and cover 109 miles.

From Salt Lake City, Utah, take I-15 south until exit 257 B-A for US-6 East. Continue on US-6 East and merge onto I-70 East. Take exit 182 onto US-191 south towards Moab. Turn left onto the Arches Entrance Road. The entire journey should take three and a half hours and cover 230 miles.

Top Things to Do at Arches National Park

With so many exciting things to do at Arches National Park, it’s a good idea to start your visit at the Arches National Park visitor center (open everyday except Christmas).

Tell the on-duty ranger what activities you are interested in doing at Arches. The rangers can give you tips for the best hiking routes and how to stay safe in the high altitude desert environment. Rangers also have good tips for things to do in Arches National Park with kids!

While you’re at the visitor center, fill up your water bottle and learn about the distinct geology, history and flora and fauna that inhabit this amazing park.

There is a saying at Arches National Park: Don’t Bust the Crust! It’s Alive!

Help protect the cryptobiotic soil crust in the park since plants and animals depend on it. While exploring Arches National Park and other desert environments, stay on established trails, or walk in dry washes or on bare rock.

Arches National Park Points of Interest

Once you’ve explored the visitor center, drive up the switchback road into Arches. We’re listing the points of interest in order as you drive along the scenic park road.

Moab Fault – wonderful view of US 191 carving its way through the canyon below.

Park Avenue – walk 100 yards to the viewpoint, or hike the trail to understand how this area got the name Park Avenue, where immense sandstone walls tower on both sides as you walk along the path.

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint – magnificent distant views of the La Sal Mountains, Courthouse Towers, Balanced Rock and The Windows area.

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint –  massive monoliths like The Organ, Tower of Babel, Three Gossips and Sheep Rock.

Petrified Dunes Viewpoint – expanse area of ancient sand dunes covered by layers of sediment that have cemented into Navajo sandstone.

Balanced Rock – explore one of the most iconic landmarks in the entire park, Balanced Rock. Standing at 128 feet tall, this amazing geological formation is a great place for a short hike where you can savor views of The Windows Section and the La Sal Mountains. This is also a great place to end your day and catch the sunset since the rock becomes saturated with beautiful  red-orange colors.

Garden of Eden – open trail to explore the sandstone features. It’s a popular location for climbers to tackle the towering rocks here.

The Windows Section – visit this area first thing in the morning or you may not get a parking spot. No trip to Arches National Park would be complete without exploring The Windows Section that includes the Spectacles, Turret Arch and Double Arch.

Panorama Point – good view of lower Salt Valley.

Cache Valley Overlook – wonderful view of Cache Valley.

Lower and Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoints – see one of the most recognizable geologic formations in the world. Delicate Arch has an opening that is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. To view this amazing place from a distance of a mile, you can drive to Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint or hike the trail to the Upper Viewpoint, which is less obstructed.

Delicate Arch and Wolf Ranch – hike the moderately difficult trail (3 miles round trip) to the base of the arch. The area has a cabin built by John Wesley Wolfe in the early 1900s and a petroglyph panel.

Salt Valley Overlook – enjoy the grand vista of the lower Salt Valley.

Fiery Furnace Viewpoint – view this labyrinth of stone fins from above at the overlook or join a ranger guided tour to explore the trails within.

Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch – hike the short and easy trail through a narrow opening between fins with deep sand to reach Sand Dune Arch. Broken Arch is farther down the trail across the open, sandy grassland.

Tower Arch – drive this dirt road to Tower Arch ONLY if you have a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle. Check with a ranger at the visitor center for road conditions.

Skyline Arch – take the time to walk the trail to see this arch up close, and not just from the road.

Devils Garden – find an incredible diversity of arches, spires and narrow rock walls as you walk along the Devil’s Garden trail. One of the most beautiful formations here is Landscape Arch. It is the longest arch in North America and is an impressive, 306 feet long.

Ranger-led Programs at Arches

Rangers lead group programs are offered everyday, throughout the park, during Spring, Summer, and Fall. Programs offered include short interactive programs (5 – 15 minutes), evening programs at the Devils Garden Campground amphitheater (45 – 60 minutes), Fiery Furnace hikes (physically strenuous), and other special events.

Stargazing at Arches National Park

If you wait for a nice, clear evening, you can see stars from almost anywhere in the park. Be sure to maximize your experience by allowing your eyes time to adjust (usually takes about 30 minutes), avoiding the moon, bringing a star chart, and using a headlamp with red light to reduce harm to your night vision.

Also, areas away from the main road and with fewer obstructions make for ideal stargazing locations and include Balanced Rock Picnic Area, The Windows Section, Garden of Eden Viewpoint, and Panorama Point.

We enjoy taking photos of the stars, moon and milky way at Arches National Park. The rock formations are unique subjects in the photo to complement the night sky.

Landscape-Arch-at-Arches-National-Park-by-Photo-Jeepers (1)

Hiking Trails at Arches National Park

Arches National Park is full of amazing trails that are perfect for hikers of every level. From expert hikers to casual hikers to families with children, there are some fantastic Arches National Park hikes that you can take to enjoy the park’s beautiful landscape.

Exploring the best hikes in Arches National Park is one way to escape the crowds and really experience this stunning landsape!

Easy Hiking Trails and Viewpoints at Arches:

Moderate Hiking Trails at Arches:

Difficult Hiking Trails at Arches:

However, when visiting Arches National Park during the heat of the summer, avoid hiking during the middle of the day and save strenuous activities for early mornings or late evenings when temperatures are at their coolest.

The rocks at Arches National Park are a great place for rock climbers to explore. However, most routes in the park do require a significant level of rock climbing experience and are only suitable for advanced climbers. To ensure climber safety, guests are asked to register for a free climbing permit and to adhere to park rock climbing regulations.

If you ever find yourself lost, remain in one spot with your companions and wait for rescue. If you continually wander around, rescue can be difficult, especially since you cannot rely on your cellphone since the park has no cellular service.

Photographing Arches National Park

It’s hard to list all the Arches National Park Photo Spots because the landscape is truly unforgettable everywhere you look!

The key to Arches National Park Photography is knowing which geological formations are best photographed during which light conditions and at what time of day.

Natural rock formations that are best photographed at sunrise at Arches National Park, or early in the morning include:

  • The Moab Fault
  • The Three Gossips
  • Sheep Rock
  • The Great Wall
  • Turret Arch
  • The Spectacles
  • Double Arch
  • Cache Valley
  • Wolfe Ranch
  • Landscape Arch
  • Double O Arch

The areas and formations best photographed in the late afternoon around sunset at Arches National Park:

  • Park Avenue
  • The Courthouse Towers
  • Petrified Dunes
  • Balanced Rock
  • Garden of Eden
  • North and South Windows
  • Delicate Arch
  • Fiery Furnace (permit required)
  • Skyline Arch
  • The fins in Devils Garden
  • Tower Arch

→ CHECK OUT our 3 day Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide

take jaw-dropping photos at Arches & Canyonlands

Visiting Arches National Park:

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

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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