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HIKING IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK


La Sal Mountains from the Devils Garden Loop Double O Arch Landscape Arch

Welcome to Bigroads.com's guide to the hiking trails of Arches National Park!

Arches National Park can't really boast a huge number of trails, but the ones they do have are truly extraordinary. There is no place on earth with such a large concentration of amazing natural arches. All you need is a day or two of hiking to obtain a great sense of what this very special national park is all about. As an added bonus, Arches is close to the town of Moab, which offers, in our opinion, the best base camp to outdoor adventures in the entire United States.

Before you set out for a hike in Arches National Parks, you should be aware of the following:
  • Extremely hot days are very common from late May through early October (90+ degrees is not uncommon).
  • Trailhead parking can be extremely limited, especially at Wolfe Ranch/Delicate Arch, so arrive early or later in the day to guarantee yourself a spot.
  • Start hiking early in the morning (i.e. 6:00-8:00am) to beat some of the summer heat.
  • Hiking here in winter can be a snowy/icy affair; foot traction is often highly recommended (i.e. Microspikes); snowshoes are never needed.
  • Always hike with at least 2 liters of water per person (the general rule is actually 1 liter per person per hour).
  • Avoid hiking on biological soil crusts. If you stay on trail and/or hike in "day or sandy washes", you shouldn't have a problem avoiding the crusts.
  • It is strongly advised that you hike with a map & also directions/trail information from a published guidebook (websites can't always be trusted).
  • There are some great off-trail hiking, rock scrambling and rock-climbing opportunities in the national park (tip: do an internet search to find them).
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EASY TRAILS

Presented below is an overview of all (relatively) EASY trails in Arches National Park (listed in alphabetical order):

HIKE NAME OUR
RATING
TOTAL
DISTANCE
TRAILHEAD TRAILHEAD
ACCESS
NOTES GUIDE
BOOK
Balanced Rock 8 / 10 0.3 mile loop Balanced Rock Paved Road this is perhaps the most famous balanced rock in the world; it is near this spot that author Edward Abbey was stationed as a ranger when Arches was just a national monument link
Broken Arch 8 / 10 1.2 to 1.7 miles Sand Dune Arch Paved Road perhaps the least-crowded of the easily-reached arches within the park; you can also reach this arch from the campground; 1.7 miles is for the full "lollipop" style loop (see a trail map for the loop option) link
Delicate Arch Viewpoint 5 / 10 up to 0.5 mile near Wolfe Ranch Paved Road this view is mainly for those who are unable or unwilling to make the full 3.0 mile round-trip hike up to the base of the arch link
Double Arch 8 / 10 0.5 mile Windows Section Paved Road this features two adjacent arches, and they comprise the tallest arch in the park; you can see the arch from the trailhead, but it's more impressive the closer that you get; the best time to photograph this arch in early in the AM; the best time to photograph this arch is early in the AM link
Landscape Arch 8 / 10 1.6 miles
Devils Garden Paved Road this is the longest arch in the park; this arch doesn't have too much time left before it collapses, so we encourage you to visit it soon; we also recommend taking the short spur trails to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch while en route to Landscape Arch; the best time to photograph this arch is early in the AM link
North & South Window 7 / 10 1.0 mile Windows Section Paved Road two adjacent arches; if you have the time & energy, take the additional "primitive trail" to get close to Turret Arch link
North & South Window &
Turret Arch (often called the "Windows Loop")
8 / 10 1.2 mile loop Windows Section Paved Road explore three excellent arches on a relatively short loop link
Park Avenue 7 / 10 1.0 mile each way Park Avenue Viewpoint Paved Road some of the most interesting rock formations in the park; there are no arches seen from this trail (however, there are some off-trail if you know where to look); you can have someone pick you up at the other end of the trail (1.0 mile one way), or you can hike out and back to your car (2 miles round-trip) link
Sand Dune Arch 7 / 10 0.3 mile Sand Dune Arch Paved Road attractive arch with soft sand below; the two sides of the arch appear to be kissing; impressive rock fins are also seen link
Sand Dune Arch &
Broken Arch
8 / 10 1.7 miles Sand Dune Arch Paved Road relatively easy walk that combines two of the lesser-visited arches in the park (although there are still quite a lot of people) link
Skyline Arch 7 / 10 0.4 mile Skyline Arch Paved Road this arch is visible from the main park road, but you can hike up to it as well link

MODERATE TRAILS

Presented below is an overview of all MODERATE trails in Arches National Park (listed in alphabetical order):

HIKE NAME OUR
RATING
TOTAL
DISTANCE
TRAILHEAD TRAILHEAD
ACCESS
NOTES GUIDE
BOOK
Delicate Arch 10 / 10 3.0 miles Wolfe Ranch Paved Road this arch is the official state symbol of Utah; your first view of this arch will make an everlasting impression; consider hiking up for a sunrise or sunset (bring a headlamp with extra batteries); expect massive crowds and a bit of a battle for one of the coveted parking spots at Wolfe Ranch link
Fiery Furnace 10 / 10 Varies Fiery Furnace Paved Road this wonderful labyrinth of arches and other rock formations is typically explored as part of a guided ranger (make reservations well in advance as they typically sell out during the prime seasons); you can hike in here without a ranger, but you better be a pro at navigation (we highly, highly recommend taking the guided tour first) link
Tower Arch 10 / 10 3.4 miles Klondike Bluffs / Salt Valley Rd. High-Clearance 2WD Road this arch is located off the beaten path because it requires driving on a dirt road (which is typically in good enough shape for most vehicles); inquire at Visitor Center as to the current road status/quality link

DIFFICULT TRAILS

Presented below is an overview of all DIFFICULT trails in Arches National Park (listed in alphabetical order):

HIKE NAME OUR
RATING
TOTAL
DISTANCE
TRAILHEAD TRAILHEAD
ACCESS
NOTES GUIDE
BOOK
Devils Garden Loop 10 / 10
7.2 to 8.5 mile loop Devils Garden Paved Road the mileage on this loop depends upon how many side trails you take; if you take all side trips, you'll visit seven arches (including Private Arch) and a cool unique rock formation (Black Angel); this loop should be avoided when wet or snowy/icy; you'll see "primitive trail" warning signs on this loop, but there are cairns you can follow (and usually a good number of hikers you can follow too); there is some exposure on this trail, so if you aren't comfortable with light rock scrambling, you'll want to skip this one link
Double O Arch 10 / 10 4.2 miles Devils Garden Paved Road this is perhaps the finest arch within the Devils Garden area, so some people will reach this arch and then turn around (instead of doing the full Devils Garden loop); en route to Double O Arch, make sure to take the side trips to Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, Landscape Arch, Partition Arch & Navajo Arch; there is some exposure on this trail, so if you aren't comfortable with light rock scrambling, you'll want to skip this one link

Arches National Park trail map > link

TOP 5 DAY HIKES IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Here are our selections for the top 5 day hikes in Arches National Park:
  • Delicate Arch - this is the state symbol of Utah and it is a rite of passage for all travelers of the American Southwest (3.0 miles round-trip)
  • Devils Garden Loop - this is the best long hike in the park; passes by seven arches (7.2-8.5 miles round-trip, depending on spur trails taken)
  • Sand Dune Arch & Broken Arch - beautiful hike to two arches, with an easy & relatively quiet walk between them (1.7 miles round-trip)
  • Tower Arch - this is an amazing arch that lacks the crowds of the other classic arches in the park (3.4 miles round-trip)
  • Windows Loop - three great arches on a relatively easy loop (1.2 mile loop)

BACKPACKING IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

  • There are no official backpacking trails in this national park. However, this national park does allow "at large" backpacking, where you carefully hike off-trail a certain distance and set up a tent (be careful to avoid the delicate soil crust). You'll want to bring plenty of water since there are few, if any, reliable water sources in this national park. Please contact the national parks' visitor center (either by phone, by email, or in person) to inquire about these backpacking possibilities.

MORE GREAT DAY HIKES NEARBY

There are many other great day hikes located near the boundaries of Arches National Park, including:
  • Fisher Towers Trail / Fisher Towers - located on BLM land
  • Canyonlands National Park-Island in the Sky District - at a minimum, don't miss the easy walk to Mesa Arch (preferably at sunrise)
  • Canyonlands National Park-Needles District - various trails; this area also offers fantastic backpacking opportunities (permits required)
  • Corona Arch - a can't miss arch located on BLM land (this arch is more impressive than most arches in Arches National Park!)
  • Culvert (Dragonfly) Canyon / Jeep Arch - located on BLM land
  • Hidden Valley - located on BLM land
  • Mill Creek / Left Hand swimming hole - located on BLM land; if the water is very murky at the start of the hike, don't bother
  • Negro Bill Canyon / Morning Glory Natural Bridge - located on BLM land
  • Portal Overlook Trail - located on BLM land; views of downtown Moab and nearby mountain ranges

RECOMMENDED HIKING GUIDEBOOKS

There are several published guidebooks that provide driving directions & trail information for hikes in Arches National Park. Here are some of the best:
  • Hiking Canyonlands & Arches National Park: > link
  • Best Easy Day Hikes Canyonlands and Arches National Parks > link
  • The Best Moab and Arches National Park Hikes > link

LEARN MORE ABOUT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

We highly recommend visiting these websites to learn more about Arches National Park:
  • NPS.gov's official Arches National Park website > link
  • Americansouthwest.net's guide to Arches National Park > link
  • Discover Moab's guide to Arches National Park > link
  • Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to 58 National Parks > link
  • National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 8th Edition > link
Please send us an email (gparsons66@hotmail.com) if you discover that any of the above links are broken.


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La Sal Mountains from the eastern side of the Devils Garden Loop

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290-foot span of Landscape Arch

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the beautiful & remote Tower Arch

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Skull Arch from a guided Fiery Furnace ranger tour

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the attraction & uncrowded Broken Arch

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Delicate Arch from an off-trail viewpoint

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interesting rock formations on the trail to Tower Arch

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Double O Arch along the Devils Garden Loop




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