A Guide to Hiking Arches National Park for All Activity Levels
Visiting Arches National Park in Utah for a hike is a goal that many Utahns and outdoor enthusiasts love to talk about. When planning your trip to Arches National Park, you can easily see most of the park over a few days. There are several trails to hike in Arches National Park, so everyone is able to see the view and enjoy the desert.
This 3.5-hour drive from Salt Lake City, Utah will take you deep into the desert. If you’ve never been to Moab, Utah before, this town will be a great stop to fuel up, grab some food, and stretch the legs. I stayed at the Moab Valley Inn during my trip to Moab. The weather in Arches National Park is relatively dry, but be prepared for the temperature to drop at night since it is the high desert. You can drive the entire park and back before deciding where to start your exploration.
You’ll want to avoid hiking the park during the hottest part of the day and you must pack enough water. It gets really hot out there and you will easily become dehydrated on your hike. The park is technically open 24 hours, but if you want to talk to a ranger, you’ll have to stop at the visitor center during the day. Here’s my quick guide to hiking Arches National Park for all activity levels.
Start With The Windows, an Easy Hike for Everyone at Arches National Park
First, you can always do a driving tour of the entire park to get a feel for the park as it’s much smaller than Yellowstone National Park. There are several options for easy hikes that are wheelchair accessible and good for those who don’t walk very much. You will enjoy hiking The Windows trail, which is about a mile and takes you to all the windows.
Just a short walk from the parking lot, The Windows will give you good photos of Utah’s rocks without a sweat. Unless it’s summer, in which case you’ll be seating all day. Be aware that, like most National Parks, Arches can get packed so patience is key and parking is limited. Remember to stay on the trail, and avoid the black patches (known as super fragile biological soil crusts). Even though it is the desert, Arches has a lively ecosystem that we must be careful to preserve.
Head Over to the Devils Garden Hike to See an Arch and Warm up the Legs
Another option for hiking at Arches National Park will be Devils Garden. Labeled as an easy trail by the NPS, this trail can be an intermediate to advanced level in the summer heat. This part of the park has restrooms, picnic tables, and a larger parking lot. It’s very close to the camping ground that’s inside the park.
When hiking Devils Garden, you won’t have any shade (does shade even exist here?) on your trail. To make the hike a little easier, head over to Landscape Arch to get your arch fix before heading back to the car for shade and more water. Like most hikes in Arches National Park, aim for morning or evening hikes to avoid the heat and have a better experience in the desert.
Break a Sweat on the Delicate Arch Hike to See Utah’s License Plate in Person at Arches National Park
Finally, one of the must-do hikes in National Park is the trail to Delicate Arch and it is only for those with an advanced fitness level. This arch is an amazing sight to see in person and totally worth the trip if you have a high activity level. Not be confused with the Delicate Arch viewpoint, the 3-mile hike to Utah’s license plate is very difficult.
Although the Delicate Arch hike seems easy at only 3 miles, don’t let the mileage fool you. There isn’t any shade and you will climb 480 ft. and walk along a cliff edge. Just like the rangers say, you need to take at least 2 quarts (2 L) of water per person. I personally went through my camelback when I hiked the trail in August on one late-afternoon. I saw many tourists walking with a small water bottle, only to quit on the climb when they ran out of their water and turn bright red from dehydration.
Hiking this trail was tough but totally worth the view at the top. If you quit on the steep climb, you can always check out the ruins of Wolfe Ranch and see some petroglyphs in person. The petroglyphs are a really cool part of history and it’s amazing how well you can see the marks.
While amazing, Arches National Park can be a hard park to hike because of the weather. It gets really hot in the summer, so you must pack enough water for all your hikes. Talk to the rangers and find out what they recommend when you visit, as many tails change depending on weather and tourists. And as always, follow the Leave No Trace principles, which include items such as stick to the trail, leave what you find, and be a considerate hiker.
Witnessing the beauty of Utah’s rocks in person at Arches National Park is a must for any outdoor enthusiasts. You will enjoy seeing all the formations and colors of the desert. There are many other hikes available throughout the park, so talk to the ranger about your activity level so they can recommend something that suits your group.
Have you been to Arches National Park? Let me know what you did in the comments below.
The Basics – Hiking Arches National Park
Best Time to Visit:
Spring-June to avoid the high heat of summer
How to Get There:
A 3.5-hour drive south of Salt Lake City, Utah
Moab Valley Inn in Moab, UT – Just across the street from Moab Brewery!
Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa in Moab, UT – Offers private accommodations with views of the Colorado River
What to Eat:
Breakfast at EklectiCafe in Moab, UT
Barbecue at The Blu Pig in Moab, UT
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