Exploring Arches National Park is a must. It has a rightful place on anyone’s bucket list and holds its own as a must see national park in the United States. This 76,679 acre national park lies above a salt bed, which was created over 300 million years ago. Even today, this salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places. The creation of this salt bed is the beginning and reason for the arches and amazing rock formations you will see.
So what should you see if you have limited time at Arches National Park? The following are Top Spots in Arches National Park, which makes up the perfect day itinerary for Arches National Park.
This is an itinerary to see the Best Spots in Arches National Park
There are many top spots in Arches National Park, but the following will give you the best plan to see the most.
Plan to start your day early. This guarantees that you will actually get into the park and/or not have a long wait to get in. Even early in the season, they have been reaching capacity around 3:00 pm and close the entrance. It would be also smart to have an America the Beautiful pass before you arrive so you can just coast on through the check point.
The first stop in Arches National Park is Park Avenue. Normally I would put this at the end because it is on your way out, but Delicate should be your last stop. Whether you like sunset or night photography, it is worth the wait to keep it at the end.
Take a walk along the towering walls and read about how these rock walls were created. This stop can be as short or as long as you like.
Hike to Double O Arch
The next stop is the farthest point on the road and better to get there early to make sure to get a parking spot. This hike will take you to 5 arches and at a leisurely pace and taking pictures, could take you 2-3 hours. Read our post here about all the fun in this short hike: https://33andfree.live/2021/04/05/hiking-in-arches-national-park/
After this hike, it’s probably almost lunch time and if you have a parking spot, it’s a good time to have that quick lunch and rest up for the rest of the day! There are a few picnic spots here.
Sand Dune Arch
Your next stop is just a short drive to Sand Dune Arch. You have options here depending on your time. From the parking lot Sand Dune Arch is just a quick quarter mile walk.
After the fun little slot, you will see the line of people trying to get their turn at a picture. It is worth the wait but you will never actually get a picture with no one in it. If you are searching out that perfect shot, it won’t happen. Most of these photos you see are photo shopped.
If you have time, there is another Arch you can hike to. The trail is 1.7 miles round trip to Broken Arch.
The Windows Section
There is so much to do here and it’s good because you have the entire afternoon to decide on what to do.
Just before the turn to The windows Section is Balanced Rock and then there is Pothole Arch and Garden of Eden before you get to the parking area. From here you have choices. Hike Double Arch Trailhead (must do) which will get you to Double Arch and glimpses of Cove Arch and Ribbon Arch and/or Hike Windows Trailhead which will take you to North window Arch and Turret Arch.
Somehwere in here would be a good time to have a snack and just relax as you take in your surroundings. A little before sunset, you will want to start your way over to Delicate Arch. There is a hike involved, so give yourself time to get a parking spot and make the hike before sunset.
Hike to Delicate Arch
You have made it to the most popular place in Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is photographed, by far the most of any arch in the park. There is a 3.4 mile round trip hike with about 500′ in elevation gain. Take it slow if it’s hot out and if you are not used to being at elevation. This arch sits at 4,850′ and with views of the La Sal Mountains in the back, you won’t get this anywhere else.
You will have to get in line to have your chance under the arch. When that is up, have fun sitting in the natural stadium seating to see what everyone does under the arch. You have crazy people jump, doing tricks, kissing, posing and you might even see a proposal. If you are an avid photographer, it is worth waiting for it to be dark and catching the milky way above the arch.
Your day is done and while it was filled with fun hikes and vistas, you’re probably exhausted. Head back into town for a late dinner or some ice cream!
Three Major Tips for Arches National Park
- DO NOT CLIMB ON ANY ARCH.
- Pack out what you pack in.
- There are NO DOGS ALLOWED on trails.
Last minute tips for Arches National Park
Dog Friendly: NO
Family Friendly: Yes
Admission Fee: Yes or America the Beautiful Pass
Permit: Not for anything in this post.
Best Time: All year.
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