Arches National Park

Nature's Sculpture Garden in the Utah Desert

by and - last updated on 5/9/2024

Arches National Park is one of Utah's mighty 5 national parks. It is known mostly for its more than 2,000 natural arches. In addition to arches you'll find giant balanced rocks, huge fins, petrified dunes and other amazing rock formations that rise out of the desert floor. Arches was the third stop on our 16 day tour of Colorado and Utah. You can visit the trip itinerary here.

The National Park Service (NPS) currently requires a "date & time" reservation to enter (for more detailed information here is a link to the NPS site). Our reservation had been at 1:00 pm, however, we ended up missing it when we arrived because we took longer exploring Colorado National Monument than we had planned on. The good news is that the timed entry requirement is dropped prior to 6:00 AM and after 5:00 PM. So, being morning people, we got up early the next day and drove over before sunrise. This turned out perfectly for us and we caught some interesting photos before the sun fully came up. We were at double arch as the sun rose! You can see some of those images in the sections below and check out our video for a tour of the park.


Youtube Video Link
Click the video image to get the tips you need for a successful visit to Arches National Park and get a glimpse of the major sites to see including an up close look at some of the sites (Delicate Arch, North and South Windows, Turret arch, Sand Dune Arch, Balanced Rock and more) within the park. This video is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
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Interesting Arches National Park Facts
  • When was Arches National Park Established? The park was originally established as a National Monument on April 12, 1929, by President Herbert Hoover. In 1971, Congress changed the status of Arches to National Park from National Monument.
  • What are the types of arches found in Arches National Park? There are four main categories of Arches found in the Park; Cliff Wall Arches, Free-Standing Arches, Pothole Arches and Natural Bridges.
  • How was Arches National Park formed? The entire region began to rise 15 million years ago, and increasing erosion caused removal of the sedimentary rocks above the Entrada Sandstone. Once at the surface, erosional forces began to act upon the sandstone layers creating the famous arches with the national park.
  • How much rainfall does Arches National Park receive? Arches National Park receives about 8-10 inches of Rain every year.
  • What is the temperature range in Arches National Park? Temperatures in Arches National Park can fluctuate over 40 Degrees in a single day.
  • What plants exist in Arches National Park? There are over 400 types of plants found in Arches National Park.
  • How many animals live in Arches National Park? There are over 50 species of mammals that live in Arches National Park.
  • How big is Balanced Rock in Arches National Park? Balanced Rock weighs 3,577 tons and is 128 feet in height.
  • What are the longest stone arches in the world?The top four are in China, however, Landscape Arch is the fifth longest Arch in the World.
  • How big is Arches National Park? The park's area is 310.31 square kilometers (76,680 acres; 119.81 square miles) in size.
  • What is the annual visitation to Arches National Park? The park receives over 1.8 million visitors annually.
  • How many arches are in Arches National Park? Arches National Park has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. There are over 2,000 documented arches in the park, plus pinnacles, balanced rocks, fins and other geologic formations. Some of the most famous arches include Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Double Arch.
  • Do I need a permit to enter Arches National Park? Yes, during peak season (April 1 - October 31) timed entry permits are required. Reserve yours online in advance at this link.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Arches National Park
  • What makes Arches National Park unique? With over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, plus countless spires, pinnacles, and balanced rocks, Arches is a masterpiece of natural erosion. It's the world's densest concentration of these unique and awe-inspiring formations.
  • When is the best time to visit Arches National Park? Shoulder seasons – spring (April-May) and fall (September-October) – offer the perfect balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds. Summer (June-August) is the most popular but temperatures often exceed 100°F. Winter brings cooler weather but may occasionally bring snow. The park is open 24 hours a day. Late afternoon and evening hours offer beautiful sunsets and reduced crowding, and naturally dark night skies sparkle overhead. During summer months, many trailhead parking lots fill by 7:30 am.
  • How long should I stay in Arches National Park? You can see the highlights within a day, but we recommend two or three days to fully explore and appreciate its wonders. Multiple days allow for longer hikes, stargazing, and less rushed itineraries.
  • Does the Park allow Dogs? Activities with pets are very limited at Arches. You may not take a pet on any hiking trails. You may have your pet with you in the campground, and at pullouts along the paved scenic drives. You may walk your pets on roads or in parking lots, but they must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle.
  • Are Reservations required for the Park? Yes. A timed entry reservation is required to enter the park even if you have an existing pass. Annual passes cover the payment of entrance fees, so annual or senior pass holders only need to pay the $2 reservation fee.
  • The National Park Service Page for Arches National Park has a lot of good information, and we would suggest that you go there if you have more questions.
  • How can I avoid the crowds at Arches National Park?
     Avoid visiting on holidays & weekends in the Summer Time.
     To beat the crowds, try entering the park early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Temperatures are cooler and the light is better for photography.
     Carpool if you can. Consider hiring a company to shuttle you to and from the park (visit Discover Moab Website to see what's available).
     Parking for oversize vehicles (RVs, trailers) is extremely limited. Leave oversized vehicles in town, or in the visitor center parking lot.
  • What are the must-see sights in Arches National Park?
     Delicate Arch: The iconic symbol of Utah and the most famous arch in the park.
     Landscape Arch: The longest arch in North America.
     Balanced Rock: A precariously balanced boulder defying gravity.
     Devils Garden: A fascinating area with a concentration of arches.
     Windows Section: A cluster of photogenic arches close together.
  • What are the best hikes in Arches National Park?
     Delicate Arch Trail: Moderate 3-mile hike to the park's most iconic arch.
     Landscape Arch Trail: Easy 1.6-mile hike to the longest arch.
     Devils Garden Trail: Moderate hike with options to see multiple arches.
     Double O Arch Trail: Challenging hike showcasing two impressive arches.
     Or click here to view an AllTrails list of hikes in Arches National Park.
  • Can I drive through Arches National Park? Yes! The main park road provides scenic views and access to many trailheads. Keep in mind that traffic backs up during peak season. Consider biking or using park shuttles to avoid congestion.
  • What tips can make my park visit smoother?
     Beat the heat: Summer temperatures are extreme. Hike early, bring plenty of water, and seek shade during midday.
     Timed entry: Reserve your timed entry ticket in advance online at The National Park Service Website.
     Plan ahead: Research trails, pack snacks, dress in layers, and check weather forecasts.
  • The National Park Service Senior Lifetime Pass is a bargain, and if you visit parks often, your Senior Pass will provide you (and up to 3 passengers in your vehicle) with a no-cost entrance. Click here to visit the NPS site to obtain more info and purchase your own Senior Pass.
Where is Arches National Park      Map

Arches National Park is 234 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah. It is about 354 miles west of Denver and slightly south and 458 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Looking at a map it is almost right in the middle between Salt Lake City, Denver, Las Vegas and Albuquerque. We chose to fly into Denver rather than Salt Lake City so we could see the Rocky Mountains on the way.

Arches National Park also lies 5.2 miles north of Moab and is bordered by the Colorado River in the southeast.

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The map image above is the property of National Park Service via their website.

Places to Stay Near Arches National Park

Moab, Utah is essentially the only major town in the area and so it is the best place to stay when visiting Arches. There are tons of restaurants and hotels and a community that supports the parks in the area including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse State park. Here you can find just about anything you need including jeep rentals and other off roading vehicles and locals with lots of knowledge that can tell you the best places to explore. Check out our Canyonlands page for our exploration of the Shafer Trail in Canyonlands and other info about renting your offroad vehicle. (To view how we did that drive, click here)

See our "Useful Links" section at the bottom of this page where you will find links for Hotels, Restaurants and other useful entities.

A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Moab, Utah. We often select Hilton properties and this Hampton Inn was what you would expect for a Hilton property. We had a king suite and the room was very large. It was clean, had good beds, a refrigerator and free breakfast. That’s all that we needed.

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Moab Utah Places to Eat
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
Moab Restaurants

We wound up eating out only one night while we were there, at the Moab Diner. I had one of the best liver & onions meals I have had in a long time ! An incredibly good meal, the service was prompt, efficient and friendly. Just for the record, we didn't eat dinner out on the other nights there because we had some nice charcuterie fixins from the Moab City Market (and a good bottle of red!).

There are many other places where you can find a meal, click here to view a Google Search Results List for restaurants in Moab.

The Moab Brewery was on our list to visit from our research, but we could not work in a visit that fit into our schedule. We found numerous people who said that it is a good pub. The Trip Advisor reviews vary all over the place, perhaps your experience will be better?

Park Avenue & Courthouse Towers
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

Only four miles from the Arches National Park Visitors Center, this is the first park pullout we came across. The parking area was empty so we parked and took the walk up the trail.

Unfortunately for our photography efforts all of the rock formations were beautiful, but the light level was so low that we did not get any good images. Since we knew from research that the Park "Windows Section" was a great place to be for a sunrise, we decided to drive there.

Click here to view a Google Images set for the Courthouse Towers rock formations.

Three Gossips
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    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

Three Gossips is a mid-sized sandstone tower (about 350 feet at its tallest wall) sitting atop a roundish pedestal within the Courthouse Towers "cluster" that also includes The Argon Tower, The Organ, Tower Of Babel, Sheep Rock, and The Lamb.

Image Credits: Images 1 & 2 are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC. Image # 3 is the property of Wine Country Inn via Wikimedia (CC-by-SA 3.0).

Click here to view a Google Search Results Images Set for the Three Gossips Tower.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is located next to the main road, at about 9.2 miles from the park entrance. It is one of only a few prominent features clearly visible from the road. The total height of Balanced Rock is 128 feet with the balancing rock rising 55 feet above the base. This rock is the largest of its kind in the park - almost 3,600 tons.

As you can see in image # 1, it was still not quite daylight and the image is quite dark. Image credits are as follows;

The Windows Section
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
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A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

The Windows section is comprised of several different formations; North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch. The North & South Windows (also known as the Spectacles) stand side by side, though separated by some distance, cut from the same sandstone fin. A large “nose” separates the Spectacle arches visually from the southwest, made of a gigantic fin remnant over 100 feet wide. Directly southwest of the Windows sits Turret Arch with its vigilant tower standing beside. The whole Windows area is full of unique and captivating stone formations, with many arches among them.

Double Arch was formed differently from most of the arches in the park. It is what is known as a pothole arch, formed by water erosion from above rather than more typical erosion from the side. The larger opening has a span of 148 feet (45 meters) and a height of 104 feet (32 meters).These dimensions give the arch the tallest opening and second-longest span in the park. The Double Arch is north of the parking area, and we did not visit it while we were there - as we spent all of our time at the Spectacles & Turret Arch.

By the time we got here, the sun was on it's way and as we walked around this area, it rose completely and revealed an interesting set of views.

Click here to view a Google Images set for The Windows Section.

Delicate Arch
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

Delicate Arch is the most widely recognized landmark in Arches National Park and is depicted on Utah license plates and a postage stamp commemorating Utah's centennial anniversary of admission to the Union in 1996. The arch, which features an opening 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, is the largest free-standing arch in the park, and — as the name implies — it seems to defy gravity in its size and design.

Hiking Delicate Arch Trail: That said, this isn’t an easy hike, as it contains a significant climb up a steep slickrock slope. There’s no shade, and it gets quite hot in the summer, so anyone taking this trail should be prepared for what’s to come. For those who aren’t up for the hike, there are two other viewing options: The Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint just down the road only requires a 100-yard walk over flat ground to get a fine look at the arch from a mile away. From the Upper Viewpoint, you get a slightly less obstructed view, but you need to walk half a mile with some stairs. The opening of the arch cannot be seen from the road, so the Delicate Arch Trail is the only way for visitors to get a good look at the formation up close.
The above text came from the Visit Utah site, as we did not take this hike. We were on a time schedule and had to keep moving on.

Click here to view a Google Images set for Delicate Arch.

Sand Dune Arch
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

Sand Dune Arch, as its name implies, has quite a bit of sand around it, the accumulation of wind-driven sand at its base. The arch sits in the shade for most of the day, flanked by two large sandstone fins. The trail (from the parking lot to the arch) is only 0.3 miles roundtrip. It’s mostly trudging through fine sand, but you also get to hike through a small slot canyon to get there. Quite a bit of shade which is pleasant, and the fine sand makes your walk feel like you are on a beach.

Click here to view a Google Search Results Images set for Sand Dune Arch.

Fiery Furnace Overlook
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!
A 16 day loop itinerary through Colorado and Utah; Denver, Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Monument, The Utah Big Five, Durango, 
    Telluride and back to Denver. An amazing adventure!

The Fiery Furnace is a collection of narrow sandstone canyons, fins and natural arches located near the center of Arches National Park in Utah, United States. The area is a popular hiking destination that was named for the reddish hue it exhibits in sunset light.

The Fiery Furnace Viewpoint is accessible from the main park road approximately five miles north of Balanced Rock. The overlook provides views into an area thick with fins, spires and arches. There are no maintained trails through the Fiery Furnace. The area is open to park visitors, but a permit must be obtained at the visitor center to access the area. Ranger-led walks into the Fiery Furnace are available from April through October.

The scenic drive in Arches passes many outstanding natural features. Parking is limited at all destinations, and popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden may fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays. View the National Park Service Traffic & Travel Tips page for advice on making the most of your time (and avoiding the crowds).

Click here to view a Google Search Results Images Set for the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint. A link to our Images Gallery can be found on this page below.

  • Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
  • Arches National Park on the "National Park Service" site
  • Guide to Arches National Park Site on the "Outside Online" site
  • VRBO Search Results list for rentals near Arches National Park
  • Lodging near Arches National Park on the "Expedia" site
  • Visit our Youtube Channel
  • Google Search Results list for "accommodations in Moab Utah"
  • Google Search Results list for "restaurants in Moab Utah"
  • Google Search Results list for "where to rent off road vehicles in moab utah"
  • Youtube Search Results list for "Arches National Park"
  • Our Image Gallery for Arches National Park
  • Wikipedia Article for Arches National Park
  • Google Image Gallery for Arches National Park
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Trip Itinerary
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As you can see by the this map, our trip covered 3 different states, approximately 1,600 road miles and allowed us to see some spectacular geography. You might think that a trip of this distance would be something that would result in a "tired of driving" mood - but our stops were so diverse with such incredible geography and fun things to do, that we found that we looked forward to each morning to where we could continue our adventures!

Click any link below to go directly to that page;

  1. Denver International Airport
  2. Glenwood Springs, CO
  3. Colorado National Monument, CO
  4. Arches National Park, UT
  5. Canyonlands National Park, UT
  6. Little Wild Horse Canyon, UT
  7. Capitol Reef National Park, UT
  1. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  2. Zion National Park, UT
  3. Lake Powell, AZ
  4. Mesa Verde National Park, CO
  5. Telluride, CO
  6. Royal Gorge, CO
 
 

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