Home to the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, this red rock wonderland should grace every park lover’s travel bucket list. There are so many wonderful things to see during your visit to Arches National Park; with 2,000 stone arches, it can be slightly overwhelming to begin planning your trip, but don’t worry! With the help of Travel and Leisure, we’ve put together a short list of 6 must see spots in Arches National Park to kick off your next adventure.
Please note that due to the popularity of this park, you’ll need a timed entry reservation if you’re planning a visit between April and October.
Park Avenue in Arches National Park.
1. Park Avenue Trail
Park Avenue is one of the first major stops in Arches National Park and is a relatively easy 2-mile out-and-back trail through the park’s mighty monoliths. Highlights include views of some of the famous giant rock formations, like The Three Gossips, the Courthouse Towers, Queen Nefertiti and Queen Victoria Rock, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel. Visitors can walk along the flat, paved path to the Park Avenue Viewpoint, or follow the steep trail down into the canyon to the Courthouse Towers. Whichever you choose, the views are spectacular.
The Windows Section in Arches National Park.
2. The Windows Section Trail
Full of famous arches, the Windows Section is one of the major scenic points in the park and is well photographed. North Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch are a few of the main arches one will see when visiting this section, and each is accessible via a flat, hard packed, and ‘barrier free’ trail. The general distance along the Windows trail is 1-mile round trip, with a parking lot and bathrooms nearby. While exploring the area, take note of the gigantic ‘face’ that appears in the stone with large spectacles (the Windows arches).
Double Arch in Arches National Park.
3. Double Arch
The tallest arch in the park and the third largest arch opening, Double Arch is a massive rock formation with 2 main arches that are connected. Considered an easy hike, this section of the Windows area is about 0.5-miles round trip directly to the base of this formation. This spot boasts a particularly great sunset, so be sure to stick around if you’re in the park for multiple nights.
Balanced Rock in Arches National Park.
4. Balanced Rock
Standing a shocking 128 feet tall, this famous non-arch structure baffles those who observe it. While Balanced Rock is currently defying gravity, there will be a time when it too collapses, like its former sibling the “Chip-Off-the-Old-Block”, which collapsed back in the winter of 1975-76. If you’re not interested in hiking the short and sweet 0.3-mile round trip, this rock formation is visible from the road.
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
5. Delicate Arch
Perhaps the most famous and well photographed arch in the world, this free-standing arch is a symbol of the mighty state of Utah, and it is a must see if you are visiting Arches National Park. Also known as "Cowboy's Chaps", "Old Maid's Bloomers", and “Salt Wash Arch” the Delicate Arch offers 3 different viewpoints, ranging in distance and difficulty. At the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, hikers can walk the 100 yards to see the famed arch from one mile away or head to the Upper Viewpoint, a 0.5-mile walk with stairs that offers an additional view of the arch. For those who want to stand directly under the arch, we suggest the 3-mile round trip trail. This trail is considered moderate to difficult depending on the weather and season, but it is well worth the climb.
Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park.
6. Sand Dune Arch Trail:
Trek through cool, deep sand to get to this secret arch! This customizable trail can lead visitors back further to the Broken Arch, or simply enjoy a look at this arch sandwiched between sandstone walls. This trail does get narrow, so those with claustrophobia may want to evaluate before venturing further. To the Sand Dune Arch, the trail is 0.4-miles round trip, and the addition of Broken Arch is another 0.8 miles.
There you have it, 6 must see spots if you’re heading into Utah’s Arches National Park. Of course there are many more spots to check out, so plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time to explore the park. Staying in the area? Remember, half the park is after dark! The stargazing in this section of Utah is spectacular, so grab a blanket, your headlamp, and your favorite hot drink and settle in for the night. Happy hiking!
Home to the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, this red rock wonderland should grace every park lover’s travel bucket list. Here are 6 must visit places in Arches National Park!