Road trip, Travel Guide

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park is located 5 miles north of Moab and is one of the top national parks not just in Utah but in America. I’ve always wanted to visit Arches. Reading about it, I was bemused at the fact that over 2,000 natural sandstone arches exist today in this national park. Of course, I had to include this in our Utah Road Trip itinerary; that’s a no-brainer. There’s just no way we’re going to pass the opportunity to see these arches up close. We only had two full days to explore Utah so I had to set aside one full day to completely immerse ourselves into this national park. After our awesome first day in Dead Horse Point, I was beyond ecstatic to see what our second day has in store for us. The next day, we woke up before sunrise, to get a head start. Tip: The best way to beat the crowd is to wake up super early; before sunrise, preferably. I know, I know. Some of you might be thinking, are you crazy? Me? Wake up early? The answer is YES! Don’t lose out on incredible experiences such as enjoying the sunrise just because you want to continue drooling in your sleep. Time is of the essence especially in popular national parks. Hundreds of people visit them everyday and you don’t want a huge crowd blocking your view, right? 

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Before our trip, I researched ahead of time which arches are worth seeing. These are my top 3.

My Top 3 Must-See Arches:

1.) Delicate Arch

2.) Double Arch

3.) Landscape Arch

Detailed trail descriptions of the 3 Arches:

1.) Delicate Arch

Length: 3 mi (4.8 km)

Time Required: 2.5 hours

Description: Exposed climb with no shade and 200-yard (183-m) rock ledge at end. Not recommended in peak summer heat. Parking is extremely limited.

2.) Double Arch  

Length: 0.5 mi (0.8 km)  

Time Required: 20 minutes

Description: Flat, sandy trail leads to base of the tallest arch in the park.

3.) Landscape Arch             

Length: 1.6 mi (2.6 km)

Time Required: 50 minutes

Description: Flat, popular trail to longest arch in park. Side trips to Tunnel and Pine Tree arches.

I originally planned for us to do the Delicate Arch earlier in the day but somehow I got coerced to hike the Double Arch instead. Since the Double Arch only required a 20 minute hike, I figured we might as well start with something easy so we just went for it. As the trail progressed, we realized we made an error. We thought we were doing only a 0.5 mile hike but ended up going to the Double O Arch which had a total of 4 miles RT. The 20 minute hike became a 2-3 hour hike! It wasn’t too bad though because this trail is also the same trail that leads to the Landscape Arch, one of the arches we originally wanted to see. Landscape Arch is the longest natural rock span in the world, this arch’s opening is 306 feet wide – 6 feet longer than a football field. A nine story building would easily fit beneath this thin span. In 1991, a massive slab of rock fell from its underside, resulting in an even thinner ribbon of rock. [Source]

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

We got to the end of the trail and was a bit underwhelmed with the Double O Arch. We didn’t stay long and left hurriedly to make up for the time we spent here since we really wanted to hike Delicate Arch. As it turns out, we made another error. The reason why it was underwhelming it’s because we saw it from a different angle. If we went to the other side, we would’ve faced the horizon and gotten better views than just the trees as our background. What a bummer! I was a little bit disappointed but you know things happen; no need to dwell on it. Tip: Avoid the same mistake as we did. Make sure you’re hiking the right trail. The trailhead to the Double O Arch is located at the end of the park (Devil’s Garden) while the trailhead for the Double Arch can be found on the first right turn (Windows Section) after the Visitor’s Center.

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Arches map

After hiking for almost 3 hours, we’re famished! But of course I forgot the sandwiches I packed for our lunch. This was definitely not my day! Before we ventured out to Moab to get some lunch, we decided to do a short hike to see the actual Double Arch. By this time, there was already a huge crowd, which wasn’t that surprising because we went on a weekend. Parking is spacious but it’s definitely difficult to find a spot during peak hours. The Double Arch is located in the Windows Section of Arches National Park. Double Arch was used as a backdrop for portions of the 1988 movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Numerous other movies have been filmed in Arches National Park, including Thelma and Louise in 1991. [Source] This thing is massive! The people hanging out underneath it looked like ants.

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Our last stop for the day was the world-famous Delicate Arch. This is one, if not the most visited arch in the entire park. Parking here is very limited. Tip: Although the best time to photograph this arch is during late afternoon-which makes it the busiest, I do recommend an early morning visit if you want to avoid the crowd. Of course, since it’s the most popular arch (it’s even on Utah’s license plates), you will never truly have a solitary experience with this arch but at least, you only have a few people to avoid. The trail to Delicate Arch is strenuous but manageable. It only became difficult for us because we already hiked 6 miles earlier in the day and our legs felt like jello. The first half-mile is a wide, well-defined trail. After that, a steep sandstone hill awaits you. The trail climbs gradually and levels out toward the top of this rock face.

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Just as I made that final turn, the wall beside me was gone and I was faced with this freestanding sandstone beauty. I’ve seen the Delicate Arch numerous times in photographs but nothing beats seeing it in person for the very first time. It was absolutely breathtaking! The arch sits on a natural amphitheater and has a drop in the middle so I don’t recommend this for people that are afraid of heights. Contrary to what others have said, you can take a picture with the arch alone. The people were very respectful and we all took turns in taking our pictures underneath the arch. I wish we had more time to hang out near the arch just to soak in the scenery, but that proved difficult because it began to rain. I would definitely come back and do this again!

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

Utah Road Trip Guide: Arches National Park

General tips:

  • Lodging is not available inside the park. However, the town of Moab is only 5 miles south of the entrance and has hotels, motels, B&B and resorts.
  • If you plan to camp inside the park, make sure you book in advance. You can visit this link for more info: Camping in Arches.
  • There’s no restaurant inside the park. Although the visitor’s center snack items and reusable water bottles. There’s several restaurant and food options for you in the town of Moab. We found a food truck that served quesadilla and tacos. Yum!
  • Try not to visit during holidays & weekends as it gets really crowded.
  • Please do not leave any trash behind.

Trail tips:

  • Trails are marked by cairns (small piles of rocks). Look carefully for cairns over the slickrock.
  • It is critical that each hiker carry and drink at least one liter of water on this hike.
  • Wear comfortable footwear, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes.
  • Dress for the weather. In summer, there is no shade and the sun beats down relentessly on hikers.
  • Return to your vehicle when lightning storms are near.
  • Use caution when the trails are wet, icy or snowy.

Other Nearby Attractions:

  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Colorado National Monument

Information:

  • Park Hours: Open year round-24 hours /day
  • Entrance Fee: Private vehicle-$25, Per person- $10. Or you can buy the National Parks Annual Pass for $80.
  • For more information, please visit the national park website: Arches National Park

 

Have you been to Arches National Park? What’s your favorite Arch?

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74 Comments

  1. Global Brunch

    December 11, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Absolutely stunning pictures and a great post! This has definitely put the National Park on my list of places to see in the US. Time for a road trip soon I think 🙂

    Thanks for sharing and happy travels!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Hi! Thank you for loving the photos and my blog post! I appreciate it. National Parks are my fave destinations, specially since I love nature and hiking.

      Time for a road trip next year! 🙂 You’re welcome and happy travels to you too!

  2. Brooke of Passport Couture

    December 11, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Wonderful photos! It’s great to see you in them to get the idea of just how big these arches are. I’m from Utah, but don’t remember going as a little kid. I’d love to go back and see Moab’s beauty!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 12, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Hello Brooke! Thank you so much. 🙂 Yes, I really want you guys to see how massive the arches are. Moab is one of my fave places that I’ve ever visited. You should def take a trip out there to experience it for yourself.

  3. zof

    December 12, 2015 at 1:36 am

    Very informative guide. I didn’t know too much about the place, but now it’s on my list, because of the way you described it. The images are phenomenal, they really depict the stunning beauty of the the Arches national park.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 12, 2015 at 4:11 pm

      Hey there. Thank you so much! I’m glad you found it informative. It really makes me smile when people tell me that after reading my blog post, they, too would love to see the places I visit. That is what I aim to do. 🙂

  4. Stefan

    December 12, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Amazing photos – reminded me a bit of some of the scenery in Mongolia – and also from scenes of the film, 127 Hours – have you seen it/know what I mean?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm

      Hey Stefan. Which scenery in Mongolia does it remind you of? And yes, Utah I believe is the location for the movie 127 Hours. Good eye! 🙂

  5. Courtney Jones

    December 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    The scenery is unreal! You almost don’t realise HOW large the formations are until you see a tiny person in the background to give perspective! Awesome photos and great post.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      Hello Courtney. It really is. I’ve seen lots of photos of the arches online but I didn’t fully grasp the enormity of them until I saw them up close! Thank you so much for visiting. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. 🙂

  6. Ami

    December 12, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I totally love these pictures, especially that of the double arch. Very useful information and account of your own trail. Love this post

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 15, 2015 at 12:47 am

      Thank you Ami! I’m glad you found some useful information in this guide. I appreciate the kind words. 🙂

  7. Jo

    December 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Janna, I came across this post via your photos on Pinterest and loved how you were able to play with the angles to create some really interesting images. This is a post that shows there is beauty and interest even in the most forbidding environment

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 15, 2015 at 12:47 am

      Hi Jo. Thank you so much. I’m glad you appreciate my photos. 🙂

  8. Joe Ankenbauer

    December 13, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I love Arches National Park! I’ve been here many times(luckily I’m not far away) and I have a trip planned for later in 2016! Love your pictures!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 15, 2015 at 12:48 am

      That’s so cool that you live close Joe. Utah is def my playground even though I live in Nevada. Hopefully your trip includes more trips to the National parks in Utah!

      And thank you for loving my pics! 🙂

  9. Tamar

    December 14, 2015 at 5:31 am

    What a gorgeous park! Every time I see these arches I itch to visit them, and your guide is really helpful, so I may look into heading there soon! Photos are beautiful too, I didn’t realize the little dots were people until you pointed them out!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 15, 2015 at 12:50 am

      Hey Tamar. You should def visit the arches when you get the chance. It’s nice to know that you found my guide helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions before you visit. I’d be happy to assist you. 🙂 And yes, I just wanted you guys to see how massive the arches are. The people looked like ants! haha

  10. The Oracle

    December 14, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Those arches are amazing! You must have had your breath just taken away

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 15, 2015 at 12:50 am

      Thank you! It really was a beautiful sight! 🙂

  11. Carlie

    December 14, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Great post! I have wanted to go for a long time, but now I definitely have the itch!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      December 15, 2015 at 12:51 am

      Hey Carlie, thank you so much! 🙂 Yes, you should definitely visit Utah and the arches! They’re even more beautiful in person. 🙂

  12. Kevin Wagar

    December 18, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Amazing! I can’t wait to get to Arches. It seems l’ve been everywhere but.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      You should Kevin! It’s a great place to sight see and hike. 🙂

  13. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    December 19, 2015 at 3:21 am

    That is crazy cool! We just don’t see stuff like that here on east coast. I would love to go here someday!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks Robin! It would be a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. 🙂

  14. Sophie O'Reilly

    December 19, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I love road trips, the pictures of the arches looks amazing, I bet they are even more spectacular when you’re standing in front of one!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks so much Sophie! Actually, yes! One in particular stood out to me and that is the Delicate Arch. 😀

  15. carol

    December 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

    What wonderful photos. We plan to take a trip out west next year.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Carol! Thank you so much. Let me know if there’s other places you want to visit in Utah. I can def help you out. 🙂

  16. Amanda

    December 19, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Wow, this looks like such a stunning national park to hike and explore. I have been hiking in Arizona a few times but I don’t think anything would ever compare to this!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      It really is Amanda. I actually love hiking in Arizona too! Have you been to Horseshoe Bend? That’s a nice, easy hike that rewards you with spectacular views of the Colorado River. 🙂

  17. Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    December 19, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I’ve never been to Utah, but we do love road trips. This sounds like a fabulous place to visit- so much to see and so much to do!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I’m glad you love road trips too Jenn! You should definitely go to Utah. Great place to enjoy the outdoors!

  18. Heather

    December 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    See I would forget the sandwiches too. That’s just what I do. Looks like the arches would be beautiful with a sunset background.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Haha glad I’m not alone Heather! Yes, I wish I had the time to stay and enjoy the sunset. Also, the weather wasnt being cooperative that day. 🙁

  19. NYC SingleMom

    December 20, 2015 at 5:39 am

    As much as I would love to visit Moab, I dont think my tween daughter would be into hiking. I will have to table this one for few years or at the minimum go with another family.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      My brother actually wasnt too keen on hiking at first until he experienced it for himself. We took him with us to Washington and Oregon and he loved it. But yeah maybe in the future you can take your daughter with you. 🙂

  20. William Sweeney

    December 20, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    I love taking my kids to national parks for hiking!! This looks like a fun place to go hiking and the scenery is beautiful!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      This is so great! I’m glad you take your kids to national parks. Maybe next summer you guys can go hiking here. 🙂

  21. Liz Mays

    December 20, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    I haven’t been there since I was a child, but this brought back a lot of memories. I would love to go back and see it all again.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Time for another trip this year Liz! 😀

  22. Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy

    December 20, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    I haven’t ever visited this park before. It looks just beautiful. I love all the arches.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      You should definitely head out there Stephanie! It’s even more beautiful in person. 😀

  23. Chubskulit Rose

    December 21, 2015 at 4:43 am

    What a beautiful place to explore. I have never been to Utah but this is just gorgeous. This is my kind of place to enjoy.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Utah is amazing! You should head on out there Rose. 😀

  24. Heather lawrence

    December 21, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Absolutely beautiful! I would love to take my kids here in the summer and let them explore all the richness of the National Park. I pinned this too so my hubby see’s it on my pinterest feed 🙂

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you Heather! You and your kids will definitely enjoy this national park. And aww thanks for sharing it on Pinterest! 🙂

  25. Digna

    December 21, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Beautiful pictures. This is one place I had actually mentioned to my hubby about going to visit one day. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Hi there Digna, Thank you! And no problem. Hopefully you and your hubby will make it out there soon.

  26. Marie

    December 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Spectacular! Your photos perfectly shows what iconic those rock formations are. I wouldn’t mind hiking for hours but I would make sure to brings lots of water!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Thank you Marie! Yes me too! But make sure to do it in the Spring or Fall especially if you’re going to hike the Delicate Arch. There’s no shade to keep you from the sun. 🙁

  27. Echo

    December 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you for all of this information! I have always wanted to visit Arches and I know I will someday, so all of your tips are super helpful!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful. Hope you can visit this national park soon! 🙂

  28. Jaime Nicole

    December 23, 2015 at 4:30 am

    How beautiful! I have been to several National Parks but never Arches. I would love to visit one day!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you Jaime! I’m glad you love national parks as well. Which one’s have u been to?

  29. Kevin Wagar

    January 4, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing. I have been to the southwest a few times and got to Antelope Canyon, Bryce, Zion and of course the Grand Canyon, but I’ve yet to get to Arches. I hope to fix that soon!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Kevin! Love all the places you listed especially Zion and Antelope Canyon. 🙂

  30. Helena

    January 4, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Awesome post. I’m gonna be roadtripping through Utah in the spring/summer and am looking forward to it so much. And I’m constantly finding myself looking for inspiration 🙂 I was actually planning on skipping Arches but after readong this post, I might just have to re-think that idea.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Thank you so much Helena! No, don’t skip Arches! 😀 It’s so beautiful there. But yes I’m glad this made you re-think your route. 😉

  31. Kathleen

    January 4, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Utah is on my list of places to visit! Great post Janna!!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks Kathleen! Utah is amazing!

  32. shivansh

    January 29, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    It was nice reading about your experience, fellow travel blogger!

    Regards,
    Hyper Gypsy

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 28, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks so much Shivansh! Glad you liked it!

  33. The Toronto Seoulcialite

    June 27, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Oh man, I would have been so bummed too! It’s not like you can just double back and see the sunrise over again. I think all of us have had moments like that, however, and it looks like you got to see some pretty amazing views regardless of the sunrise. Just gotta bolt up outta bed before your body realizes what you’re doing, right?

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 28, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Yea, I was a bit bummed but it just goes to show that no matter how much you plan, things come up unexpectedly and we just gotta go with the flow. We still had an amazing time regardless of that little mishap. And yea, I love waking up early in the morning during vacation and beating the crowd. 😀

  34. mark wyld

    June 27, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Looks like another amazing National Park adventure for you. These landscapes are amazing and very reminiscent of scenes i have witnessed on the old western movies. Can’t wait to visit this area of The USA someday

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 28, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      It really was an amazing experience. Utah does remind me of some western movies I’ve seen lately. Hope u and ur family can explore it someday Mark!

  35. Sally

    June 27, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Utah is definitely high on the bucket list after reading this. And I would love to spend days doing various hikes around there, it looks well worth it.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 28, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      It’s definitely worth it Sally! A weekend is enough to explore Moab, I highly recommend it.

  36. Girlswanderlust

    June 27, 2016 at 2:44 am

    After reading your post and seeing your pictures I defenitely would like to visit Arches National Park! You wrote such an extensive description of all the arches and things to see there. Can’t wait to check it out!

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 28, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Aw yay! That’s what I like to hear. Hope you can check it out soon!

  37. Kerri

    June 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I am loving these national parks and the amazing rock formations and natural beauties in them. I really do need to make some time to do a bit of a NP holiday. Great photos.

    1. Janna C.

      Janna C.

      June 28, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      You should Kerri. It’s worth the drive! National Parks are a great way to reconnect with nature and discover new beauties!

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