Photo of Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park, located in Utah.

Prepare for Adventure with this Ultimate Arches National Park Guide

AUTHOR: Connor Ursin with @nationalparktravelers

Arches National Park is a wonderland of towering red rocks meeting the bright blue sky. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a dream-like, timeless, and other-worldly part of the country.

With over 2000 natural arches, Arches National Park holds the largest collection in the world. You can see towers, pinnacles, balanced rocks, and, of course, arches! A trip to any Utah National Park will be an amazing experience, but Arches National Park is a must-see out of Utah’s Mighty 5.

Planning ahead is critical for an enjoyable visit and adventure through all the rock formations. Before you pack up and hit the road, learn more about how to prepare for your trip, where you can stay in your camper van, and which hikes you can’t miss once you get there.

Know Before You Go to Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a wildly popular destination, especially during the warmer months. Every year, more than 1.5 million visitors make their way here when they visit Utah (and that number is growing).

The park is implementing a timed entry system to help manage the crowds, so you’ll have to buy tickets ahead of time. This system is running from April 3rd through October 3rd of this year. You can get tickets for $2 online

Bring a high threshold of patience and perseverance — this park can get very crowded, and has limited parking. Rangers often limit entry once their capacity is reached, and these delays can last up to 3-5 hours.

The park is open 24 hours a day, but we suggest getting there early (before 9 am) or later in the day (after 4 pm) to beat some of the crowds. 

There’s no lodging, gas stations, or food available inside the park, so make sure you’re prepared before you head in. 

And of course, leave no trace when you visit. It’s all our responsibility to pick up after ourselves, respect the wildlife, and minimize our impact. By following the principles of Leave No Trace, we can preserve these beautiful areas for future generations.

Best Time to Visit

From March through October, visitation at Arches National Park is extremely high. But typically, April-May and September-October is when temperatures will average around 60 to 80 degrees, making for a pleasant hike or walk around the park. 

There are a few holiday seasons you’ll want to avoid, as they are especially busy during these times:

  • The weeks surrounding Easter
  • Memorial Day weekend
  • Labor Day weekend

The park is open during the winter months, which will give you some beautiful views of snow-capped red rock formations. Just be sure you plan for cold temps!

How to Get to Arches National Park

Most visitors arrive at Arches by car, so cruising up in a camper van is the perfect way to go! This is also useful as there’s no public transportation once you’re inside the park. If you’d prefer to park your van, you can always rent a bicycle or take a commercial tour to get around inside.

The entrance into Arches is just 5 miles north of Moab, which also makes it a desirable place to stay while you visit. 

If you are flying in, the closest airports are:

Where to Stay

If you want to stay super close to the action, there’s only one solid Arches National Park lodging option, and that’s the Devil’s Garden Campground. It features 51 campsites that are available by reservation only. If you do get a reservation, you don’t have to make a timed entry reservation for the park. 

Flush toilets and drinking water are provided, as well as picnic tables and fire rings.

The town of Moab is otherwise an excellent option for finding accommodations. There are also tons of things to do in Moab like whitewater rafting, ziplining, horseback riding, or checking out art galleries and museums.

Photo of a sandstone wall in Arches National Park

Hikes We Recommend in Arches National Park

Before you set out on your hiking adventures, remember that popular trailheads and viewpoints will be full for most of the day.

If you use the parking lots at each trail, be sure that you:

  • Park only in designated areas.
  • Stay on the roads.
  • Don’t wait for spots to open when a lot is full — move on and try again later.
  • Never park on vegetation.

Be respectful of the fact that other folks are trying to get in to see the arches and rock formations. You wouldn’t appreciate having to wait longer than you should!

Photo of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch 

  • Difficulty (moderate)
  • Distance (3 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (2 hours)

If you can get to it in time, Delicate Arch has the most beautiful sunset at Arches National Park. While you’ll fight the crowds for the unforgettable views, this is a must-see during your visit. 

Fun fact: This arch is featured on the Utah license plate!

Landscape Arch

  • Difficulty (easy)
  • Distance (1.8 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (45 minutes)

Landscape Arch is one of the longest-standing arches in the world. Because of some rockfall a couple years ago, many fear it won’t be around for much longer. All the more reason to see it on your trip!

Note: Landscape Arch is just one simple stop along the Devil’s Garden loop, which we will cover next!

Devil’s Garden Loop Trail

  • Difficulty (moderate/difficult)
  • Distance (7.8 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (3 hours)

Devil’s Garden Loop is definitely one of the more adventurous (and longer) hikes you’ll find in Arches National Park. Here you’ll find arches, spires, and a large concentration of fins, which are formed when rainwater erodes parallel fractures in the rock.

Photo of Turret Arch on The Windows hiking trail in Arches National Park

Windows Loop & Turret Arch

  • Difficulty (easy)
  • Distance (1 mile)
  • Estimated hike time (30 minutes)

This is one of the most picturesque areas of the park and one of the most photographed. You’ll fit a lot of sightseeing into the 30 minutes of hiking time this trail requires.

Double Arch

  • Difficulty (easy)
  • Distance (.5 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (15 minutes)

Double Arch is another easy hike that involves a relatively flat, gravel-surfaced path that’ll take you right up to the base of two huge arches. You can easily pair this with Windows and Turret Arch because they all start from the same parking lot!

Park Avenue

  • Difficulty (easy)
  • Distance (2 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (1 hour)

After passing the Arches National Park Visitor Center, the first major area you’ll see is Park Avenue. This flat hike will take you through massive monoliths and towering walls, eventually to a viewpoint of the nearby La Sal Mountains.

Photo of Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park, located in Utah.

Sand Dune Arch

  • Difficulty (easy)
  • Distance (.3 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (15 minutes)

Sand Dune Arch is a short but sweet hike. It’ll lead you between narrow slot canyons to an interesting rock formation hovering over the sand below. 

Because that sandy area sits in the shade most of the day, it’s a great spot to take a break from the sun and cool down. 

Corona Arch

  • Difficulty (moderate)
  • Distance (3 miles)
  • Estimated hike time (2 hours)

Corona Arch is a good spot to beat the crowds while still taking in some beautiful sites. If you’re staying in Moab during your visit, this is an especially easy hike to check off your list.

Things to do Near Arches National Park

Whether you stay in your camper van outside the park or head into Moab during the evenings, Arches National Park is the perfect road trip destination! 

And as you can imagine, there’s even more to see outside the area. Here are some other spots to consider adding to your visit: 

Gear Up for an Adventure Up the Oregon Coast

Once you get your fill of red rocks and blue skies, consider turning your sights toward entirely different type of adventure along the Oregon Coast.

Pack up your camper van and explore this northern oasis of mountains, forests, beaches and rivers. From the seafood to the crystalline creek waters and fresh mountain air, you’ll feel rejuvenated as you make your way along the state’s 300+ miles of jaw-dropping coastline. 

Before you dive into the adventure, be sure to explore tips and tricks for this route, shared by a fellow traveler and van lifer.