Arches National Park sits north of Moab in Utah and is home to the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. Along one side you’ll find the Colorado River and the other is a geological dream. All the arches are made of sandstone and while the scenic drive shows you some of them, the only way to see all of them in detail is to hop out the car and hike.
It’s not just arches that you’ll find in the national park, but also domes, slots, caves, towers, the list is endless. The most famous of Arches National Park’s features include Delicate Arch in the east, Landscape Arch to the north, and Balanced Rock that is a huge formation sitting in the middle of the desert.
The hikes here are not long in terms of distance but they can take a while to get around. Every turn along the trail opens up new geological features that tend to dazzle, amaze, and are cause for pause. In this article, we’ll outline some of the best hikes in Arches National Park so you can find your way around some of the coolest geological wonders in the world.
The hike to Delicate Arch is a must while you’re in Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is one of the most famous and striking arches in the whole park and the easy trail is well worth the hike.
The hike is around 3 miles long and gets busy so it’s best to get there early to find a space in the parking lot. Its best done in spring or fall but can also be hiked in summer or winter.
If you’re there in summer, try and avoid hiking in the middle of the day as it gets really hot and there is no shade on this hike. The best times to be there are around sunset or sunrise when the temperature is low and the sandstone glows with a beautiful light.
Once you’re at the parking lot, take the Delicate Arch Trail across the bridge that covers a salt wash. The path is well defined and quite obvious for the first part until you’ll meet slickrock. Once you’re here, follow rock cairns as the path slowly ascends and then levels out.
You’ll see the magical Delicate Arch in the distance, it’s worth spending more time there once you’ve arrived to take some pictures. Once you’re done, follow the same route back to your car.
The Broken Arch Hike is quite a chilled hike when it comes down to it. It’s a loop hike that is just under two miles long and shouldn’t take much long than 1.5 hours. It’s suitable for all ages and abilities, so bring the kids along too.
You can hike this loop all year round, but again, avoid the middle of the day in summer as it’s hot and bring a lot of water. You’ll see some great birds, wildflowers, and of course, some awesome landscapes.
You’ll walk through some sand dunes and end up at Broken Arch that is not actually broken, as you can see above. The scenery along the way is magical and you can climb through the arch once you’re there. There is also some fun climbing to be had for the kids too.
Although it’s labeled as an easy hike in some cases, there are some scrambly sections that might be hard for anyone who is injured or not as fit as they’d like to be.
The Balanced Rock Hike is an easy walk for anyone who wants to see this amazing spectacle in Arches National Park. At just 0.3 miles long you’ll have it done in no time at all. It is a busy route with a lot of traffic so it’s best to be there very early or late to avoid the crowds.
The path is paved all the way to the viewpoint of the 3600-ton rock that sits on a supporting structure. It looks like it should just fall over, and it’s worth considering how it came to be formed, especially if you have kids with you.
The viewpoint shows off the La Sal Mountains and the Window Section of the park, plus you’ll see quite a lot of other cool sandstone formations on your way to it. If you’re in the mood, you can hike down to Balanced Rock to get up close and personal. This is highly recommended, as it is hard to realize how big it is unless you really get up close and personal.
To get back to the car, simply follow the route you came on.
The Park Avenue Hike is a magical trail that is suitable for most abilities. It’s not that long or strenuous but takes you through some epic scenes of Arches National Park. It’s best done in spring or fall, but you can manage it in summer and winter too.
The hike can get quite busy so, as always, it’s advisable to get there early or later in the day. You start the hike at the first lay-by from the entrance and from there descend into the canyon. The size of the canyon is overpowering and awe-inspiring. This is the only canyon based hike on our list and it is highly recommended.
As you follow the Park Avenue trail through the canyon, past the wildflowers, and the stunning scenery, you’ll begin to see the Courthouse Towers in the distance, your final destination. They’re huge towering rocks that sit amongst the middle of the canyon and are quite spectacular. See the picture above. It truly is a breathtaking hike.
To get back home, you’ll need to retrace your steps or if you have a shuttle driver, you can be collected at the other end.
The Windows Loop & Turret Arch Hike is an awesome short hike in Arches National Park that gives you a huge amount of amazing views for very little effort. At just 1.3 miles the hike shouldn’t last much longer than an hour or two depending on how long you hang at the arch for and take in the views.
The hike can be done all year round and is a favortie for snowshoeing in the winter. It starts at Windows Trail Head on Windows rod and as you follow the trail to Turret Arch you’ll be faced with insane views of the landscapes.
Once you get to the Windows, take a right and once you’re at the top of the ridge, go off road to the arch. Once you’re there, you’ll find awesome climbing for the kids and if you pass through the arch you’ll get views to the North Window, Cove of Caves and the Parade of Elephants.
Tower Arch Hike is an awesome choice if you’re looking to avoid all the crowds. It’s tucked deep away in the park, hidden behind the Klondike Bluffs. It’s a medium level hike that is only 2.5. miles long but there is a lot of up and down involved in it too, making it a little more challenging.
The hike first takes you past the Marching Men monument that is a part of a huge fin of eroding sandstone. They are thin towers that look like cadets saluting, made from sandstone and natures wind eroding it.
Continuing on, you’ll reach Tower Arch. Standing by it, you’ll realize how huge it is, with a towering 92 ft span. It’s by no means the biggest in the national park but it is very impressive.
Landscape Arch Hike is a simple hike that takes just 1.5 hours depending on how quickly you walk. It’s a there and back trail, so you’ll follow the route back home.
The hike starts at the top or Arches Main Road and follows a very easy trail that is well kept. It is suitable for any abilities but towards the end of the path is a sandy section, and it’s worth going through it to get an awesome view of the arch, although you will get sand in your shoes.
Landscape Arch is absolutely huge and quite incredible to see up close. It’s certainly worth some sandy shoes and this short easy hike. It’s the largest natural span on the planet, so take your camera and spend some time there.
This is an awesome hike to go and see the Double Arch formation. It’s short, fast, easy but it does go through sand. You begin the hike at the Windows Road End Parking area and to start off with it’s worth just taking in the view from the start of the path. It’s pretty spectacular.
Once you’re on the trail is a quick walk around this sandy loop hike to see the gigantic double arch formation. This route does get pretty busy, and it’s worth getting there early or late to ensure you enjoy it without the crowds.
If you’re looking for a longer hike, then the Devils Garden Loop Hike is right up your street. It will take you around 5-hours and covers a total of 7.7 miles but make sure to take a lot of water and be there early or late to avoid crowds and peak sunshine hours.
While being a long walk you can incporate between 6-8 arches in this one hike, so if you’re pressed for time while you’re in Arches National Park, this is a way to see it all quickly.
The hike begins on the Loop of Arches Main Road and the first arch it takes you to is Tunnel Arch, featured in the photo above. Then it’s on to Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch (largest natural span in the world), Wall Arch, Navajo Arch and Partition Arch.
The hike not only includes all these arches but also incredible scenery and some solid uphill action for one part of the trail. You can do it all year round but be sure to avoid the midday sun in summer time.
If you want to add on some more arches, you can add 2.25 miles to your hike to get some awesome views of Double Arch and Dark Angel. If not, you can follow the normal loop back to the beginning.