Arches National Park
All orthodox red rock-ists make a pilgrimage to the Holey Land (Moab) in their lifetime, but many find their devotion leads them back to Arches National Park every equinox.
God is a stonemason… and Utah's Arches National Park is the back room of his workshop. Stone bridges, gossiping monoliths, mountains with windows, city-sized sandstone pipe organs… They look like experiments. Or mistakes. Ambitious, dangerous ones.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Delicate Arch is the icon,* looping 65 feet out of an orange bluff according to its own invented axes, but every single hike in Arches National Park will show you something that changes your perspective: the metaphysics of Landscape Arch; a Courthouse and a Tower of Babel on Park Avenue; the lost souls in the Fiery Furnace. It’s all waiting, quietly, like an engineering project abandoned as impractical.
Arches National Park Timed Entry
From April to October, Arches will be implementing a timed entry system. During this time you will need to reserve your ticket (with a dedicated entry time) in advance, and the number of daily visitors will be capped. Reservations will be released three months in advance — so if you’re planning a visit for May, you’ll have to snag them in February.
Bummer, right? Well, yes and no. Arches’ number of yearly visitors has skyrocketed in the past ten years, and the park and surrounding areas have struggled to keep up with the overwhelming number of people. This temporary pilot program is one of several options that may ultimately be instituted at Arches to help reduce traffic, parking lot congestion and trail crowds. Having fewer visitors in the park should not only improve the experience for the visitors who manage to snag reservations, but should also reduce the environmental impact on this fragile desert ecosystem.
So while this temporary timed entry system may not be the best thing for spontaneous travelers, it could end up being the best thing for the park. Data gathered from this pilot program will help the National Parks Service determine whether or not a timed entry system is the best permanent solution. The good news is that a limited number of next-day tickets will be available every day at 6 p.m. Mountain Time on Recreation.gov, and you may still walk, bike or hike into the park without a reservation. Reserve your ticket online and learn more about the pilot program today.
Arches National Park Entry Reservations Overview
- Tickets to Arches National Park between April and October must be reserved in advance
- Reservations can be made up to 3 months in advance on Recreation.gov
- Daily visitors will be capped
- A limited number of next-day tickets will be released daily at 6 p.m.
- Those walking, hiking or biking into the park do not need a reservation but must still pay the entry fee
Arches National Park Location & Directions
Arches National Park is located in Moab, Utah, (just 30 minutes from Canyonlands National Park) and is accessible by air or car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Grand Junction. Here’s how we recommend getting to Arches.
Nearest Airports to Arches National Park
Depending on where you're coming from, there are two airports we recommend near Arches National Park:
- GRAND JUNCTION REGIONAL AIRPORT: Flights from Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix, and Dallas. A 1.5-hour drive to the park.
- SALT LAKE CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Major airport with direct flights from many foreign and domestic destinations. A 3.5-hour drive to the park.
Note: Some visitors choose to fly into Las Vegas and visit other Utah National Parks on their way to Arches. Las Vegas is a 6.5-hour drive to Arches.
Driving Directions to Arches National Park
Take a look at how far Arches is from some notable nearby destinations.
- VISIT ARCHES FROM SALT LAKE CITY, UT (230 miles): Take I-15 S toward Las Vegas. Merge onto US-6 E (exit 258) toward US-89 E Price/Manti. Take US-191 S (exit 182) toward Crescent Junction/Moab. Turn right onto US-191 S to Moab.
- VISIT ARCHES FROM LAS VEGAS, NV (453 miles): Take I-15 N toward Salt Lake City. Take exit 132 for I-70 E. Take exit 182 (Crescent Junction) for US-191 S and follow signs to Arches National Park.
Arches | Photo Gallery
A view of Delicate Arch from the Delicate Arch Hike near Moab Utah
Getting Around Arches National Park
Try carpooling (or biking). You’ll feel like a responsible resident of planet Earth and you’ll be fighting one fewer car for a parking spot at popular trailheads. Speaking of parking spots at popular trailheads, they fill up like a horse race on payday, so opt for some paths less taken (it will make all the difference) or consider getting using a local taxi service or commercial touring company that will drop you off and picks you up from the park. If you do go to popular areas like Devils Garden, Delicate Arch, or the Windows, don’t idle at full parking lots. Move along (a scenic road loop through the park and passes many trailheads) and try back later.
Where to stay near Arches National Park
If St. Louis is the Gateway to the West, then Moab is the Gateway to the Wild West. It’s close to enough rugged, jaw-dropping beauty to make even the most seasoned ogler sprain their mandible but full of enough creature comforts to pamper the civilized. So go ahead! Wander, get lost, worship some red rock, and then mosey back to town for some grub, soft sheets, and a cold one. With a plethora of cafes, breweries, and motels, you won’t be hurting for options.
View a list of nearby hotels and campgrounds
Arches National Park Hours
The park is open all year (24 hours a day).
The visitor center is located just inside the park, near the main entrance. It is just off US-191, about five miles north of Moab, and is open daily. The visitor center is closed on December 25th.
2024 Fee Free Days
- January 15: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 20: First day of National Park Week
- June 19: Juneteenth National Independence Day'
- August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- September 28: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
The following passes allow access to Arches for seven consecutive days:
- Private vehicle: $30
- Motorcycle: $25
- A person entering by foot or bicycle: $15 (Under 15 is free of charge)
These passes admit the pass owner and accompanying passengers to all U.S. national parks (including Arches) and federal recreational lands:
- Annual Pass: $80
- 4th Grade Annual Pass: free
- Military Annual Pass: free
- Lifetime Senior Pass (62 and older): $80
- Annual Senior Pass (62 and older): $20
- Lifetime Access Pass (available for those with a permanent disability): free
- Southeast Utah Annual Pass (access to Arches, Canyonlands, and Natural Bridges National Monument): $55
WHEN TO VISIT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Arches may be hot and dry, but it’s as popular as the captain of the football team in an ’80s movie. That means crowds, so plan your trip wisely. If you’re driving, try visiting between 7 and 8 in the morning or 3 to 5 at night. Temperatures are cooler then and you’ll feel cool just for planning ahead.
“My, what moderate weather we’re having,” people who aren’t at Arches are known to say. In the lingo of nature documentary one-liners, this is a land of extremes: Temps can boomerang 40 degrees from day to night here and summer highs can reach well over 100 degrees. Plus, there are the late-summer monsoons to contend with. So if you come from pale potato-farmer stock or have a reaction to withering heat (anyone? anyone?) it’s best to visit in early spring or fall, when the weather cleans up its act a bit and pretends that this time, it has really changed for good. If you do go in summer, check the forecast before you go — for heat and for monsoon rain. If you go in winter, expect highs between 30 to 50 degrees and nighttime lows of 0 to 20 degrees. In other words, bundle up, put on your moon boots, and pin a note to your back in case your brain freezes and you forget your way back to the car.
BEST HIKES IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
The good thing about Arches is that anywhere you go, there you are, and anywhere that happens to be the there in which you currently also happen to be guaranteed to be mind-meltingly gorgeous. But, as good as everywhere is, there are some attractions you’ll kick yourself for missing. We’re talking 100 percent, wish-you-were-here postcard gold. So if your time is limited and you can’t see everything, make a list, check it twice, and head for the petrified hills!
Going to Arches and not seeing Delicate Arch is like flying to the moon, then staying in the space shuttle to clip your toenails. You’ve seen the license plates — an orange-red span of rock thinning against a blue sky — but it’s even better in person with the snowy La Sals in the background.
Possibly even more delicate than Delicate Arch, this 290-foot sandstone spiderweb makes you feel like you might be the last person to see it intact. It’s an easy 0.8-mile hike from the Devils Garden Trailhead with lots of other arches you can add on if you like that kind of thing.
The name may not inspire confidence — after all, you’ve lived your whole life so as to avoid hell — but the actual experience of this hike is closer to heaven. A two-mile labyrinth of rock fins with no marked trail, this adventure requires a permit and a willingness to have Mother Nature shake you by the shoulders.
Corona Arch & nearby, Bowtie Arch are spectacular, photogenic arches located just west of Moab.
Looking for the Cross of Coronado? Simply go to the Double Arch in Arches National Park and get separated from your scout troop. That’s what River Phoenix does as a young Indiana in the intro to Stephen Spielberg’s 1989 blockbuster. You’ll find beautiful views and scenic arches there, but probably no secret caves, treasure hunting bandits or legendary crosses. It’s probably for the best — that cross belongs in a museum!
View all hikes at Arches
THINGS TO DO IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
The following activities at Arches require a national park permit:
- Fiery Furnace
Arches contain many viewpoints, picnic areas, and trails that are accessible to all. The visitor center is ADA-compliant, as is the Delicate Arch viewpoint (not the trail), Wolfe Ranch Cabin & Art Panel, and the Park Avenue viewpoint, to name a few. Other trails are barrier-free — they’re designed for accessibility, but may contain occasional obstacles or conditions caused by weather. Among the barrier-free trails are the Double Arch trail, the first 100 yards of the Windows trail, and the Devils Garden trail to Landscape Arch. The scenic drive is another great option for taking in the various vistas and landmarks.
Services for the deaf and blind are provided at the visitor center and service animals are allowed in the park (but don’t forget plenty of water and poop bags).
Devils Garden Campground site 4H is considered ADA-compliant.
DOGS AT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Dogs are allowed (on leash):
- At all park roads
- In parking areas
- In picnic areas
- At Devils Garden Campground
Dogs are not allowed:
- At any overlooks
- On any trails
- In the visitor center
Fragility by the ton
It’s Arches National Park's juxtapositions that stop you in your tracks: height and balance; coarseness and curvature; huge slabs of stone suspended in the air. We’re drawn to the unlikely, and good ventilation is about the last thing you expect from a mountain.
There are 2,000 named arches in the park. (An opening in the rock earns a name and an “arch” designation by stretching 3 feet in one direction.) Forty-three are known to have fallen since 1977 — a little more than once per year. We’re happy to report that humans didn’t cause any of them. (Don’t be the first!) So if you’re lucky (or stupid), you might get the photo of a lifetime (even if it’s your last). Tread lightly, speak softly, and please (please!), stay off the cryptobiotic soil — that crusty stuff off the trail that looks like dead moss is actually quite alive, thank you, and it’s preventing erosion.
Arches National Park is the Holey Land
…for hikers, bikers, drivers, and rafters. And photographers and jeepers and climbers. And campers. Whatever your outdoor passion, make room for another.
(Some of those you can’t do in the park proper, but Moab, where you’ll probably stay, is centrally located in a surrounding area with plenty of sandstone to go around. Come for the outdoor adventure and stay for the spas, pizza, and dusty luxury down the road. If you want to pack light, just rent all your gear at the outfitters on Main Street.)
See Arches now, before it gets as popular as it ought to. Outside peak seasons it still feels like there are more sights than tourists, and it’s so beautiful you won’t want to tell your friends.
*Though it wasn’t even part of the original area designated a national monument in 1929. A border extension nine years later put Delicate Arch on the Arches National Park map.
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