Arches National Park: 2 Day Adventure

Arches National Park is in eastern Utah, just north of the city of Moab.  The park’s landscape is covered in every hue of red and orange across spectacular sandstone arches, massive fins, giant balanced rocks and incredible towers and pinnacles. It is home to the world’s largest collection of natural arches with over 2,000 of them scattered throughout the park’s 76,000 acres. The park’s amazingly scenic hiking trails will have you feeling almost like you’ve landed in another world😊 This is a park you do not want to miss!  Below is a 2-day itinerary to take you through all of our much-loved areas of the park!

Entrance Fee: $30 for a 7-Day Vehicle Pass. Between April 3, 2022, and October 3, 2022, timed entry is required.  Timed entry tickets can be found at Recreation.gov and ticket release days can be found at this link- Timed Entry Ticket Releases.   Timed entry tickets are released in month blocks, three months in advance.  For example, if you are visiting the park June 15th, timed entry tickets for that day are available for purchase March 1st.  A timed entry ticket is $2, and they are non-refundable and non-transferable. 

Lodging: Camping is the only lodging option on site.  Reservations are taken for Devils Garden Campground March 1st through October 31st at Recreation.gov.  Backcountry camping is also available, but permits are required and are not available inside the park.  Backcountry permits can be purchased at the Backcountry Permit Office just south of Moab.   The city of Moab is 5 minutes from the park and has MANY Airbnb, hotel, and camping options, if you are not staying inside the park. 

Dining: There are several picnic areas located throughout the park.  There is no food available for purchase inside the park.  Moab has many excellent dining options and grocery stores.  Some of our favorites- Moab Food Truck Park (Street Dogs and Red Wok Kitchen are our favorites but they are all so good!), Trailhead Public House and Eatery, Zax, Sweet Cravings, and Miguel’s Baja Grill

Must Know Before You Go:

* If you are traveling during the summer months, your biggest obstacle will be the unrelenting heat in a park with close to zero shade. *

1. Bring all kinds of sun protection- Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc. 

2. Bring plenty of water.  There are filling stations during the summer months at Devils Garden and the Visitor Center if needed.  The park recommends 1 gallon per person, per day. 

3.  In the height of summer, I highly recommend planning your hikes from 7am to 11am and then an evening hike (after 6pm).   Honestly, sunset at the park is spectacular, so you may want to do this even in the cooler months, although sunset would be much earlier in day😊

4. Bring plenty of salty snacks for the trails.

5. Carry plenty of water on your hikes- the park rangers repeatedly recommended 1 liter, per hour, per person. 

6.  If traveling with kids, make sure you have a backpack large enough to carry enough water for everyone in your group.  There will not be any water sources on the trails. 

7. Much of the trails in this park include sand hiking and some rock scrambling, so again, take plenty of breaks, eat plenty of snacks, and bring plenty of water.

8. With sand hiking and rock scrambling, and the risk of sudden storms in the summer months making the sandstone very slick, hiking boots are definitely recommended.

Cell Service:  We had decent cell service everywhere but the Devils Garden area. 

2 Day Itinerary

Day 1

Landscape Arch/Pine Tree Arch/Tunnel Arch- This trail starts at the far north end of the park, about 18 miles from the entrance.  There are restrooms and a water filling station at the trailhead.   This trail is well maintained and well labeled.  This 2.5-mile, roundtrip trail, is an out and back with a short side hike to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arches.   We hiked to Landscape Arch first and then took the Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch split on the way back.  If you hike all the way up to Landscape Arch, you will be able to see the Double O Arch.  To have time for the rest of the itinerary, make Landscape Arch your turn around and save the strenuous hike to Double O for another day😊   

Skyline Arch- Skyline Arch is just a short drive from Devil’s Garden.  It is an easy 0.5 miles roundtrip.  If you walk around the rocks when the main path ends you can get an even closer look at the very cool arch.

Fiery Furnace Viewpoint- This is an easy, paved, 0.2 miles roundtrip.  The path takes you to lovely views of some very cool rock formations.  *If you plan on hiking INTO the Fiery Furnace, you will need to obtain a permit beforehand. *    

Salt Valley Overlook- Almost immediately after the Fiery Furnace, is the Salt Valley Overlook.  It is a beautiful overlook with a pretty cool geology lesson all wrapped into one stop! 

We were exploring Utah throughout the month of June, so it was quite toasty during the day.  We ended up leaving the park around noon and went back to our place for swimming and an early dinner before heading back into the park.

Sand Dune Arch/Broken Arch/Tapestry Arch- This is a perfect evening hike, that rewarded us with spectacular sunset views!  If the weather is cool and you don’t need a break during the hottest part of the day, complete this trail before the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint.  This entire loop with side trips to Sand Arch and Tapestry Arch is just under 3 miles roundtrip.  Start the hike at the Sand Arch parking lot.   Restrooms are available at this lot.  At the first split in the trail, head right through the rock to see Sand Arch.  This is also one of the few shady spots on the trail and a great place for the kids to play in the sand.  After exploring Sand Arch, head back out to the main trail to continue to Broken Arch.  As you approach the rock, there will be another split in the trail.  Head right, for Broken Arch.  When you get to the stunning Broken Arch, you will need to scramble up through the arch and head left on the other side to continue the trail.  The trail from this point on is more difficult to follow.  There will not be another sign until you get to Tapestry Arch so follow the cairns and Tapestry Arch in the distance.  After your short side trip to Tapestry Arch, the trail takes you through the Devils Garden Campground.  At the campground restrooms, head left(south) and walk all the way to the end of the campground to pick up the rest of the trail.  The trail picks up near campsite 51.  After more rock scrambling, the trail will loop you back around to the second trail split where you will head right(south), to head in the direction of the parking lot. 

Day 2

North Window/South Window/Turret Arch- The Windows section of Arches National Park is one of my favorite areas of the park.  We parked on the south side of the parking lot and started at Turret Arch, before heading over to the North Window and then South Window.  At the South Window we continued the sand trail and looped back around to the parking lot.  If you do this area first thing in the morning, the sun will be coming up over the North and South Windows and it is stunning!  To complete both the main loop, and primitive sand loop is 1.2 miles roundtrip.  

Double Arch/Parade of Elephants- You can either drive over to the start of the Double Arch Trail or take the connector trail by the restrooms.  Even early in the morning, parking was limited, so we stopped for a restroom break and took the connector trail. The hike to Double Arch is an easy 0.8 miles roundtrip made up of flat, packed sand.  This trail is full of stunning views the whole way to the arch and our kiddos loved finding all the “animals” in the rock formations. On the way to Double Arch, the Parade of Elephants will be on your left (west side of trail).  Double Arch is the tallest arch and second largest arch in the park and is truly an impressive sight! 

Garden of Eden- After jumping back in your car to head to the next stop, there will be a road on your right(east), that will take you to an amazing overlook of the Garden of Eden. 

Pothole Arch- Pothole Arch can be seen from the road as you head out of the windows section.  It will be on your left just before you hit the main road. 

Balanced Rock- Once you get back to the main road, take a left(south) and the lot for Balanced Rock will be almost immediately on your left.   You can see the rock formation clearly from the lot, but there is an easy 0.3-mile loop trail that will take you all the way around Balanced Rock.  I recommend walking the loop.  The trail will provide you with gorgeous views the whole way and give you and your crew time to ponder how it is possible that Balanced Rock seems to be defying gravity😊 

Petrified Dunes Viewpoint- After Balanced Rock, continue to head south on the main road for 3 miles.  On the left(east), will be the Petrified Dunes Overlook.  A very simple explanation to what you are looking at- a vast dune field where over time the sand has turned to rock. 

Park Avenue Trail- For this trail we parked at the Park Avenue Viewpoint.  If parking is limited, you can also park at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint since this is a one-way trail between the two points.  This trail is an easy, 2-mile roundtrip trail through massive red rock, that truly makes you feel like you’re on another planet!   This is a great hike for even the littlest of kiddos.  It is also easy to turn around at any point if they are getting tired.  Two things to note.  There are a steep set of stairs past the viewpoint to get you all the way down in the canyon and part of the trail will have you walking on the sandstone which can be slick if it were to rain. 

*I would recommend a heat break after the Park Avenue Trail. We went back to our Airbnb and let the kids swim and did an early dinner, then headed back to the park at 6 to do the hike to Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch- Chances are, if you are planning a trip to Arches, you already know all about the famous Delicate Arch.  With all its popularity, I was worried it wouldn’t hold up to all the hype.  Well…. let me tell you…it is indeed spectacular!  It honestly looks rather insignificant from the ground, however as you turn the last corner, at the top of a very steep climb up, you will see how massive and magnificent it truly is.  While this hike is certainly difficult, it is a hike you will not want to miss!  With or without the summer heat, this is the perfect evening hike for the lighting alone. Parking for this trail can be found at Wolfe Ranch and there are restrooms available just off the lot.  The lot is very big, and even in June, we did not have trouble finding a spot.  I would recommend exploring Wolfe Ranch and the Petroglyph Panel first, since it will be dark, or close to, by the time you return.  This hike is 3 miles roundtrip with almost 500 ft of elevation gain. And although the path is wide, most of the trail is on a cliff’s ledge so you will want to keep little ones close.  There is also no shade anywhere on the trail so bring plenty of water for your entire crew and bring flashlights or headlamps for your hike back to the car.  This trail is marked difficult, but our 6-, 8- and 9-year-olds had no trouble completing it.   We just took it slow, and had plenty of snacks and water and they did great😊 This is the perfect way to end your trip to Arches National Park.

Hope you have a wonderful adventure!

family photo for Always Exploring

Meet the Johnsons

Welcome to Always Exploring! We are the Johnsons. We would love to have you follow along as we explore the world one adventure at a time! Here you will find itineraries to all of our explorations that will hopefully be helpful in your own adventure planning!

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