Welcome to this post about how to spend a day in Arches National Park. In my opinion Arches National Park is definitely the most beautiful national park in Utah, along with Bryce Canyon National Park. I visited it on my tour of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, but WOW this one is insanely beautiful! Arches National Park has more than 2.000 natural arches and they are said to have not even mapped all of them yet. I spent a day here and tell you all about it in this long and detailed blog article!
Please note: Because Arches National Park has become very crowded in recent years, you must book your entrance in advance through the National Park Service if you are traveling between April 3rd and October 3rd. It is a pilot, which means that it will be tested for the first time this year. Read more about it here. I visited Arches a few years ago when it was even less crowded. So I can’t tell you from personal experience how this works.
This post was first published in 2015 and updated in 2021
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One day in Arches National Park
I visited Arches National Park from the town of Moab. The entrance to Arches National Park is less than a ten-mile drive from Moab. The sun had just risen the moment I got in the car and I think I was one of the first people to arrive in the national park.
Balanced Rock in Arches National Park
I made the first stop at the special Balanced Rock. Arches National Park is best known for its Arches, but this phenomenon is really very special. When I was there, very early in the morning, there were hardly any other tourists, which made it very special. I actually spent quite a while watching Balanced Rock, waiting for it to fall over. Which of course didn’t happen…
Hiking in Devil’s Garden
After my visit to Balanced Rock, I decided to drive north, all the way to the end of the road. Here is Devil’s Garden where there are really countless special arches. I took a hike here to Double O Arch. This hike is described in the park brochure as ‘strenuous’ because it contains some climbing and easy scrambling. You will also walk along chasms and if you don’t like narrow ridges and deep chasms, this trail might not be for you. If you like hiking like I do, then this is an absolute must!
The first arch I passed was Landscape Arch, one of the thinner ones. Back in the 90’s a huge chunk of rock broke off this arch, making it one of the more delicate ones in the park. Rangers predict the rest of the arch may come down one day, too, therefore the trail underneath it is closed.
My next stop was at The Windows, where there are some very large arches, such as Turret Arch and the North and South Windows Arch. It had become quite busy here by now and people were queuing up to take pictures. So I didn’t spend too much time here. Apparently Indiana Jones was filmed at one of these arches, making it a popular destination.
Taking a break
It got very hot in the afternoon, so I decided to head back to Moab to spend the hottest part of the day in the shade. I stayed at Moab up the Creek Campsite. If you don’t want to camp with your tent, view all options for accommodation in Moab here. Moab is becoming more and more popular so I advise you to definitely book your accommodations in advance.
Off to Park Avenue
At the end of the afternoon I went back to the national park and visited Park Avenue, a row of rock formations that form a beautiful and special landscape. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to do the full walk, but I did take some beautiful photos.
Sunset at Delicate Arch
And then the spectacular end of the day … the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. I’d been looking forward to this all day. This walk is also described as ‘strenuous’, but I think this has to do with the heat. I thought it was a great hike, but I did it at the beginning of the evening and not during the hottest time of the day. The hike to Delicate Arch takes you over slick rock and can get quite slippery when it rains.
Delicate Arch is Arches National Park’s most famous arch and tens of thousands of people come here every year to photograph the sunset. After arriving at Delicate Arch I was amazed at the number of people present. You can walk to the arch from where you sit for a photo under the arch, it was difficult to take a good photo without people. Still, I thought it was very worthwhile and while enjoying roaring frogs and toads I walked back to the parking lot after sunset.
One day at Arches National Parks – additional tips
If you are going to visit and spend one day Arches National Park, try to avoid the busy parts of the park in the afternoon. It’s too hot and busy. Since the entrance to the national park is near Moab, you can easily go there at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. It’s not a large national park and you can easily see the main sights in one day. There is a main road through the park and there are some unpaved 4WD tracks. There are water taps but otherwise few facilities.
By the way, with this audio guide you’ll visit all the highlights, highly recommended so make sure to grab yours now.
More fun things to do in Arches can be found below:
Also make sure to order Arches National Park guidebook here.
Conclusion and disclaimer
I hope you found this one day Arches National Park itinery useful and that it will help you with your trip planning. If you wish to see more, visit one of the articles below:
– How to capture the sunrise at Mesa Arch
– Must-do in Moab: the Negro Bill Canyon Trail
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