10 Best Hikes in Arches National Park- Hiking & Backpacking Destinations

Best Hikes in Arches National Park

Last Updated on May 11, 2021

Arches National Park covers more than 300 square kilometers of the Moab region of Utah. This vast area is best known for its unique rock formations, including its magnificent sandstone arches. It is these that attract so many visitors to the parkland.

One of the best ways to enjoy the views and landmarks at Arches National Park is hiking and there are many hike trails for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Each has its own features that make it interesting, such as the unusual landscapes and the wildlife that lives in this region.

To help you make the most of your time at Arches National Park, we have compiled this guide to staying in the area and suggested some of the best hikes to enjoy during your stay.

Gear Checklist for Hiking in Arches National Park

Having the right hiking gear with you will make your experience on the trails of Arches National Park much better. Here is a list of the gear you should take with you for your visit.

  • Good quality hiking boots- Wearing decent hiking boots is essential as you will cover many terrains and some trails involve scrambling over rocks.
  • Trekking poles- Although many of the trails are flat, the moderate to difficult trails often involve scrambling. Trekking poles will help you to cover the diverse terrain.
  • Sun protection- The temperatures soar around midday and you are at serious risk of burning or suffering from heat stroke. Some would recommend avoiding hiking at midday. If you do go out on a trail, wear sunglasses, and sun hat, and high sun protection factor sunscreen.
  • Water and snacks- It is easy to become dehydrated in the heat and water will help you to avoid this. Make sure you pack plenty of water in your daysack and some snacks to keep up your energy.
  • Headlamp- If you plan to walk at dusk or dawn, then a headlamp will come in handy. It is also a useful item to pack if you are camping as it will help you find your way around at night.
  • Travel insurance- When you travel anywhere to hike, it is sensible to get travel insurance in case you run into any problems. (Worldnomads recommended)
  • Bear spray- Sometimes, black bears wander down form the surrounding mountains and into the park. Although you are unlikely to encounter a bear, carrying bear spray is a sensible precaution. We recommend Frontiersman Bear Spray.

Where to Stay Near Arches National Park

To get the most out of Arches National Park and to see as much as possible, it is best to stay for at least a few days. If you are staying in the area, you need to decide whether you are camping or staying in other accommodation. There are plenty to choose between in the area, but it is best to book in advance as the local campsites, hostels, and hotels get booked up quickly all year round as this area is popular with tourists.

Campsites at Arches National Park

Many outdoor activity enthusiasts prefer to feel at one with nature and camping is all part of this experience. Just off. Highway 191 and on the edge of Arches National Park is Archview RV Resort & Campground, which is a popular choice. If you prefer to stay within Arches National Park, then Devil’s Garden Campground is a good option. There is also the option of back-country camping, but you need a permit from the Visitor Center to do this. For a glamping experience, you can stay at Under Canvas Moab, where you will stay in large safari tents that come with a barbecue, en-suite bathroom, a fire pit, and views of the mountains.

Low-Budget Accommodation

If camping is not your thing but you cannot stretch your budget to the luxury of a hotel, then hostels are a good solution. These give you the comfort of a real bed and protection from the elements without all the expensive frills of a hotel. One of the most popular with hikers is Lazy Lizard Hostel, which is just off Highway 191.

Mid-Price Accommodation

The next step up from staying in a hostel is a budget hotel. There are many of these close to Arches National Park, with most situated along Highway 191. The closest to the perimeter of Arches National Park is the 3-star Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. Other options include Holiday Inn Express & Suites Moab, Super 8 by Wyndham Moab, and Aarchway Inn.

Luxury Accommodation

Arches National Park is an amazing place to visit and you may wish to enhance the experience by splashing out on luxury accommodation. Sunflower Hill Luxury Inn is just outside Arches National Park and boasts upscale rooms, beautiful gardens, a library, a pool, and a hot tub. Therefore, this is the perfect place to unwind after a day of hiking. Another option is Red Cliffs Lodge, where you can choose between rustic suites or log cabins. This riverfront accommodation boasts its own restaurant and a Western heritage museum.

10 Best Hikes in Arches National Park

1. Devil’s Garden

Distance: 11.5 km

Difficulty: Easy to challenging in different sections

Elevation: No elevation

Duration: 7-8 hours

Start and end points: Starts and ends at the Devil’s Garden Trailhead

Best time to hike: Any time except when snowing

Devil’s Garden consists of three separate trails that serious hikers complete together to cover more of the area in one day, but you can complete one or two sections at a time. To complete the full trail is a full-day excursion, so you will need plenty of water. The primitive trail is the challenging section, but you can omit this section if you want an easy hike. This section has steep slopes, rock scrambling, and narrow drop-offs. It is best avoided when very wet or during snow. The moderate section of the trail id Double O Arch. There are some steep climbs on sandstone fins. The easiest section of Devil’s Garden is to Landscape Arch, which is one of the most famous arches in the park. This section is short and flat.

2. Long Amasa Loop

Distance: 24 kilometers

Difficulty: Challenging

Elevation: 31 m

Duration: 6-7 hours

Start and end points: Starts at Kane Creek Road and ends at Kane Springs Trailhead

Best time to hike: Sunrise or sunset throughout the year

Strictly speaking, this trail isn’t in Arch National Park; it is just on the outskirts at the opposite side of Highway 191. However, it is one of the most popular trails for serious hikers visiting the area as it is more challenging than the smaller hikes in Arches National Park. If you enjoy longer hikes, then this is one to consider. The loop includes the Amasa Back Trail, the Captain Ahab Trail, the Pothole Arch Trail, Jackson’s Trail, and the Rockstacker Trail. You will also pass by Jacob’s Ladder Overlook. The terrain for most of the trail is rugged, so strong hiking boots are essential to protect your ankles for this hike.

3. Tower Arch

Distance: 5.5 km

Difficulty: Challenging

Elevation: 30 m

Duration: 2-3 hours

Start and end points: Starts and ends at the base of the Klondike Bluff

Best time to hike: Early mornings throughout the year

Although the elevation of this hike may not seem much, hikers will climb more than they expect because of the many ups and down in the trail and the rugged terrain. This is a loop trail that both starts and ends at the base of Klondike Bluff and there are some fantastic landmarks along the way. The main feature is Tower Arch, after which the trail is named. However, there is also a monument called Marching Men, which is tall, thin towers of sandstone that look like soldiers standing to attention. Another key point in this trail is Anniversary Arch, which is two arches side-by-side.

4. Delicate Arch

Distance: 4.8 km

Difficulty: Challenging

Elevation: 146 m

Duration: 2-3 hours

Start and end points: Wolfe Ranch to Delicate Arch and back

Best time to hike: Early morning or late afternoon

Delicate Arch is the most famous landmark in Utah, so no trip to Arches National park is complete until you have seen this landmark. This is a challenging hike that has some steep inclines, stony sections, and narrow ledges. However, the terrain is not the only challenge you will face on this hike as there is hardly any shade and the heat is overwhelming for many people. For this reason, it is better to do this hike earlier or later in the day to avoid the midday heat. Experts also recommend that you take at least two liters of water per person. The effort is worth it to see this spectacular natural landmark before retracing your steps back to Wolfe Ranch.

5. Park Avenue

Distance: 3.2 km

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: 98 m

Duration: 1.5-2 hours

Start and end points: Park Avenue parking area to Courthouse Towers and back

Best time to hike: Year-round

This trail is the closest to the visitor center, so it is one of the most popular trails amongst tourists. It gives magnificent views of the La Sal Mountains and takes you through towering monoliths and massive rock walls. The first section of this hike is a sharp descent which leads to a stunning canyon. You will then make your way to Courthouse Towers, which is the highlight of the trail. Some people end their hike here if they have a shuttle driver to pick them up at this end of the trail. However, most people retrace their steps back to the starting point, which involves a steep climb at the end. An alternative is to walk back along the park road.

6. Broken Arch Loop

Distance: 3.2 kilometers

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation: No elevation

Duration: 1-1.5 hours

Start and end points: Starts and ends at the Sand Dune Arch parking area

Best time to hike: Year-round

This is one of the easiest and most accessible trails at Arches National Park. You start at the Sand Dune Arch parking area and cross a meadow towards the Broken Arch. You then head towards the campground through slickrock and sand dunes. When you reach the northern section of the trail, there is some rock scrambling, but this is not too challenging for most people. The trail then takes you back to your starting point at Sand Dune parking area. Along this trail, there is an optional off-shoot to see Tapestry Arch.

7. Courthouse Wash Rock Art

Distance: 1.6 km

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation: No elevation

Duration: Under one hour

Start and end points: Starts and ends at Courthouse Wash parking area

Best time to hike: Any time

This is one of the shortest hikes at Arch National Park, so it is ideal for hiking novices. However, it is a trail that experienced hikers should not dismiss because of its short length as there are few places in the world where you can view prehistoric art. The trail begins at Lower Courthouse Wash parking area and you walk south over Courthouse Wash Bridge. Walk a little further and you will see the prehistoric rock art panel at the base of the cliffs, facing westwards. You then retrace your steps back to the beginning of the trail.

8. Grandstaff Hiking Trail

Distance: 6.6 km

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: 95.7 m

Duration: 6-7 hours

Start and end points: Utah 126 to Morning Glory Natural Bridge and back

Best time to hike: Year-round

Just on the outskirts of Arches National Park is the Grandstaff Hiking Trail. This trail starts directly from the road and you follow it along the side of a stream for approximately 1.5 kilometers. When you reach the second canyon, there is a fork in the trail and you will head right over the stream and then ascend a steep slope. At the end of this trail is the Morning Glory Natural Bridge, which is the sixth longest natural rock span in the United States. You will then retrace your steps back to the beginning of the trail.

9. The Windows

Distance: 1.6 km

Difficulty: Easy

Elevation: 46 m

Duration: Under one hour

Start and end points: Starts and ends at The Windows parking area

Best time to hike: Any time

Although this is only a short hike, it covers one of the most scenic locations in the park as it has the highest concentration of arches. The main features of this hike are North Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch. However, there are plenty of other important landmarks, including Parade of Elephants, Elephant Butte, and Garden of Eden. You can also view the Double Arch from the start point of this trail. The gravel trail has a gentle incline and you return to the starting point by retracing your steps. The first section of the trail is accessible by wheelchair.

10. Fiery Furnace

Distance: Approximately 5 km

Difficulty: Very Challenging

Elevation: 45 m

Duration: 2 hours

Start and end points: No official start and end points

Best time to hike: Year-round

This trail differs from the others at Arches National Park as there is not an official trail route. This is certainly not a hike for novices as it is very challenging and easy to get lost. In fact, you are only allowed to hike on this part of the park if you have a permit from the visitor center or you are accompanied by a ranger on a guided hike. The highlights of this hike are several interesting arches, including Balanced Rock and Skull Arch, and passing through Raven Canyon. Along the way, you will climb many rock piles and squeeze between small crevices in the rock.

A Few Tips for Hiking at Arches National Park

The following tips will help you to make the most of your visit to Arches National Park

  • The weather is often extremely hot, so make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and wear sunglasses and a sun hat.
  • Check what permits you might need for camping or hiking in advance.
  • Use trail guides if they are available.
  • Beware of the critters you might see in the area. These include snakes, scorpions, cone-nosed kissing bugs, and black widow spiders.
  • Places to top up your water supply are limited, so make sure you pack plenty into your daysack before setting off on a hike.
  • One of the main rules of Arches National Park is that you must always stick to the trails. This is to protect the biological soil crust that is essential for plant and animal life in that environment.
  • Leave the rocks and arches alone. They are stunning to look at, but it is important you help to protect them. Visitors are asked not to climb on the arches as it is dangerous and could damage them. It is also illegal to deliberately mark any of the rocks or arches in the park.

Final Verdict

Arches National Park in Utah is a beautiful and unique place to visit that is most famous for its rock and sandstone natural structures. There are many hikes from which you can choose, and these range from short, easy trails to long and challenging hikes. We hope that this guide has given you some inspiration for which hikes to include in your vacation itinerary and the tips we have given help you to have an enjoyable experience during your trip.

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