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11 Best Things to do in Arches National Park

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Want to know the best things to do in Arches National Park? There are A LOT of options, so how to choose? 

Luckily, we frequent Arches and it’s one of our favorite places to visit since we live in the neighboring state of Colorado. Because we’ve visited so many times, we’ve nailed down a list of all the can’t-miss activities in the park, so you’ll know which ones are worth visiting.

Here’s a list of our favorite, must-see sights in Arches.

Watch the sunrise at Delicate Arch

view of delicate arch from across the bowl

Delicate Arch. This is the big one. It’s on every Utah license plate, every advertisement, and every logo.

If you think because of that, you don’t need to see it in person, you would be mistaken!

This is the largest freestanding arch in the park, with its opening being 46 feet tall and 32 feet wide. This is a breathtaking natural wonder, an experience you don’t want to pass up.

There are a few different ways to experience the Delicate Arch.

First, you can stop at the Lower Arch viewpoint. This is a short 100-yard walk to witness the arch from a mile away.

Or walk a little farther (half a mile) to the Upper Arch viewpoint which will give you a bit of a clearer view.

Oh, but you want to see the arch up close? Okay! There is an absolutely beautiful 3-mile hike that can take you right up to the arch, you can even stand under it. 

This hike is steadily uphill and can be slippery if there is any rain or ice, so don’t forget to keep that in mind.

Seeing the arch in and of itself is something to behold, but head to Arches early in the morning to catch the sunrise, and you’ll take your trip to the next level.

Drive the scenic road through Arches

Depending on how much time you have, if you take the scenic route through Arches National Park, you can hit almost every big sight.

If you only have an hour and a half, you want to make sure you make it to see the Windows Section of the park. This section includes the famous North Window and Double Arches (one of our personal favorites). 

Or drive the scenic road and stop at the Delicate Arch viewpoint that I mentioned above, but you won’t have time to do both unless you’re planning about three hours to drive around.

In about four and a half hours, you’ll have time to hit all of the paved roads in the park, fitting in about ten minutes to marvel at each viewpoint.

Take in the view of Park Avenue

large red rock formations

Take the Park Avenue trail to see some of Arches’ loftiest peaks.

This trail walks you through majestic rock formations that allow your imagination to run wild. In fact, many of these Arches have been named by visitors, such as Queen Elizabeth and the Sausage Rock, maybe you’ll find a name that sticks!

This hike is considered low on the difficulty scale and takes about 50 minutes to complete. There are some steep stairs that you can avoid by starting at the north end of the trail.

This is a beautiful hike accessible all year round, but it is not open for dogs so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

Learn at the Visitor Center

If you’re wanting to know anything about the geology, wildlife, plantlife, or history of Arches National Park, the Visitor Center houses lots of information and guides just for that purpose.

The Visitor Center is open every day, except December 25th,  from 7:30 am to 6 pm.

It’s placed right at the front of the park, so it’s a great place to stop to get a little more information about what you’ll see in the park before going in.

After learning all you need to know either before or after exploring the park, be sure to get a souvenir at the gift shop in the visitor’s center to remember your trip by.

Walk around Balanced Rock

balanced rock and other rocks in a flat area

A natural anomaly, Balanced Rock looks like it teeters over the park with indomitable resolve to stay upright.

It is actually not in any danger of falling over quite yet, so don’t be afraid to get right up to the rock and see how it manages to “balance” as it does up close. 

Eventually, erosion will take its toll on the formation, so make sure to get out to Arches to see it before that happens. 

About ten miles from the visitor center you can take a short hike around the base of the rock, which is an especially stunning view at sunset, or stay a little later and set out a blanket for stargazing.

Hike Fiery Furnace

The Fiery Furnace hike takes you on some of the most challenging trails in Arches National Park and can only be hiked with a guide or an individual permit, so if you’re planning on adding this to your itinerary, be sure and plan in advance.

This hike is perfect for adventure seekers who are looking to see some of the more exclusive sights Arches has to offer.

The maze-like trail takes hikers through blazing slot canyons, ledges, and under arches not able to be seen outside of the hike.

It’s $16 per person to go with a guide and children under five are not permitted on the trail. This hike is beautiful and exhilarating all in one.

Watch the sunset at Panorama Point

sunrise peeking over mountains

Visiting Panorama Point is easily one of the best things to do in Arches.

The 360-degree views this spot offers are unreal and a panorama picture is a must. 

You can expect a stunning sunset from pretty much any spot in Arches, but Panorama Point presents an unobstructed view of the park, which calls for the best sunset. 

If you have another sunset spot lined up, Panorama point is a great place for a picnic stop throughout the day, or another great stargazing spot.

Snap a photo at La Sal Mountains Viewpoint

view of the La Sal Mountains across a desert

Originally named “Sierra de la Sal”, meaning Mountain of the Salt, for the salt beds surrounding the mountain. 

The name stuck and shortened to the La Sal Mountains, which I personally think has a nicer ring to it than Mountain of the Salt.

And the name is just as beautiful as the view. La Sal Viewpoint is one of the most visited spots in the park.

A parking lot accompanies this location, along with a sidewalk that follows a short trail so you can find your favorite angle to see the mountains. 

This is another spectacular spot for either sunset or sunrise. I’m sure you’re learning that one of the best things to do in Arches is to watch the sun go up or down.

Marvel at Double Arch

large red double arch

The Double Arch is my girlfriend’s favorite arch in the park and is always popping with visitors.

Located in the Windows Section of Arches, you can see it from the Windows Section parking loop, but I would highly suggest taking the short walk to witness it up close.

A natural marvel, this arch creates a mother nature-made room by bridging each side together. 

As one of our favorite things to do in Arches, this sight will leave you in awe.

There are some fun places to climb around the area of the arch as well as right underneath one of the main bridges of the arch. And depending on the time of day can offer some great shade from the desert sun.

Cool off in the shade at Sand Dune Arch

arch situated in a sand dune

Speaking of finding some shade from the hot desert sun, the Sand Dune Arch is another first-rate spot for that. We didn’t visit this spot until our second trip to the park, and I have to say, it’s now my favorite arch in all of Arches!

Nestled in the slot canyons of Arches, Sand Dune Arch can be found after a short walk between two large sandstone barriers. 

As the name suggests, the ground beneath and around the arch is veiled by heaps of cool sand, making it the ideal spot to sit down, take off your shoes, and hide from the sun.

Once you’ve done that, you can follow the path a little deeper into the slot canyons or check out the trail that leads you to the Broken Arch (which may not actually be broken, but go see for yourself). 

large arch with a walking trail in front of it

Walk to Landscape Arch

The Landscape Arch is burrowed into Devil’s Garden and it is so thin that if you don’t look from the right angle you could miss it.

Don’t believe me? In my opinion, it’s a miracle this arch still holds together! It’s about as thin as an arch can get and the longest in length in the park.

In fact, it’s the longest arch in North America at 306 feet.

As for things to do in Arches, the hike to this arch is one of our favorites. It is a fairly easy hike and takes about half an hour to an hour to complete.

Along the way, you’ll see lots of plant life, arches, rock formations, and rock fins. We actually even saw a deer on our hike out to this arch once!

Now you’re ready to embark on your adventure and find some of your own favorite things to do in Arches. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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