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7 Epic Things to Do in Arches National Park

Looking for the best things to do in Arches National Park? Don’t miss these landmarks and activities if it’s your first time!

Arches National Park has over 2,000 natural stone arches and the world-famous Delicate Arch. Though we love all of Utah, Arches has quickly become one of our favorites. Even if you’re limited on time, it is one of the Mighty Five you shouldn’t miss.

Note: Timed Entry Tickets are required from April 1 to October 31, 2024, to help manage crowds. There is a $2 service fee to obtain these tickets. The exception is if you have permits for camping, backcountry, Fiery Furnace, or other special-use permits or are on a tour with an approved company.

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Last Updated: May 13, 2023

9 Rad Things to Do in Arches National Park

1. Drive the 18-Mile Scenic Road

If you only have a half-day, the easiest way to see an overview of the park is on the Scenic Drive. Carve out at least 4-5 hours to drive every paved road with 10 minutes at each viewpoint. 

Pro Tip: The Windows area is the perfect easy stop for those passing through

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2. Hike a Trail →

Arches is a great hiking park whether you want a 15-minute stroll or a multi-day hike.

We highly recommend the 7.2-mile Devil’s Garden Loop Trail, one of the park’s most iconic hikes. It takes you to several famous arches, and the hike was a lot of fun, with diverse landscapes and some scrambling.

See all the best hikes in Arches National Park, including their difficulties here.

See More: 11 Best Hikes in Arches National Park You Simply Can’t Miss

3. Enjoy Sunrise or Sunset at Delicate Arch →

Delicate Arch is hands down the most famous arch in the park and arguably in the world. Depending on how you look at it, sunset can be the best or worst time of day. 

Sunset gives you the best light on the arch, but it is the most crowded time. We opted to avoid the crowd and try our luck at sunrise.

The 3-mile hike can be tricky to navigate in the dark since there are many portions where it’s easy to get lost, but we were able to make it to the Arch before sunrise, and we enjoyed the Arch peacefully with two other people.

Even when it’s crowded, the iconic arch is still worth visiting. However, the rest of the park has plenty of incredible rock formations, including arches, fins, balanced rocks, and more, without the crowds.

Photography Tip: If you go at sunrise, the best light happens before the sun rises over the horizon. After, you will get mixed lighting on the arch from the tall rocks to the left of it.

See More: Delicate Arch Hike in Arches National Park

4. Camp Under the Stars

Camp under the stars with beautiful arches and boulders towering over you. Arches National Park only has 50 campsites that accommodate up to 10 people, so count yourself lucky if you can get one.

Sites can be reserved between March 1 and October 1 and are first-come, first-serve November 1 to February 28.

You can stay in the backcountry if you can’t get a campsite. Arches is a relatively small park, so there isn’t as much backcountry as other national parks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of beautiful places to camp under the stars

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5. Join a Ranger-Led Program

Arches has a handful of ranger-led programs that give visitors unique opportunities in the park. We kept hearing that the Fiery Furnace Hike is the best since you can only explore that area with a ranger.

It’s a three-hour, strenuous hike that involves rock scrambling. Unfortunately, when we tried to sign up, it was full, so we’ll have to catch it next time.

6. Horseback Ride Through the park

Though we haven’t done much horseback riding through national parks, many of them have the option to ride on wash-bottom routes. We prefer hiking to horseback riding, but we eventually want to try it to see how much the perspective of the park changes on horseback.

7. Rock Climbing and Canyoneering

Although you can’t climb the arches (RIP Dean Potter and RIP arch climbing), there are still some great established routes. See their rules, regulations, and closures here. We forgot our climbing shoes on our latest trip, so we only played around a bit, but next time!

When the park developed its rock climbing routes, it was easy to also create canyoneering routes. It’s another unique way to experience the park as you rappel down the sandstone walls and narrow passageways. See their rules and how to register here.

Essential Tips for Visiting Arches National Park

  • The park can get crowded during the summer. Arrive before 8 am or after 3 pm to avoid the busiest times. Check out their webcams.
  • Always carry plenty of water (our favorite travel water bottles)! It gets hot, and most hikes are exposed. They recommend 4L per person per day, and you can find refill stations at the Visitor Center and Devils Garden Trailhead and Campground.
  • Wear sturdy shoes with good traction. Even if you’re just on a short hike, the ground is often uneven, and some hikes require scrambling. Though I always have to push myself beyond my comfort level because I am scared easily, assess your safety first.
  • Don’t wander alone or ensure someone always knows where you are.
  • Lightning and flash flooding are serious threats. Keep track of the weather, and head back to your car if you see lighting. Avoid lone trees, cliff edges, and high ridges.

Where to Stay

What’s Nearby

  • Canyonlands National Park (26.2 mi / 30 min, map)
  • Capitol Reef National Park (133 mi / 2 hr 5 min, map)
  • Mesa Verde National Park (150 mi / 2 hr 50 min, map)
  • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park (191 mi / 3 hr 22 min, map)

Planning Checklist

Have you visited Arches? Are there any favorite things to do in Arches National Park that we missed?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Moab Lover

    Hey – Thank you for a great article – helped me a lot. I love the pic of Jacob? in the rock climbing section – can you please tell me where that is and or how to get there? TIA.

    1. jacob

      It’s on the way to Navajo Arch – you can’t miss it!

  2. Gloria

    I was to visit arches so badly! I want to go with my two girl friends. We were thinking of where to stay while we were visiting, because we have no camping equipment to stay in the park with.

    1. Esther JuLee

      You can stay in Moab. It’s pretty much right next to the park, and it has plenty of hotels and accommodations. :)

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