This is a guide on how to have an epic adventure at Arches National Park. This guide is meant for people of all abilities. When I say people of all abilities I mean those with disabilities, those with physical or mental limitations, and those who don’t have any limitations at all. I like to find hikes and activities that accommodate everyone.
When to visit
Spring and Fall is the best time to visit this beautiful park but the peak of the season when most people visit is in the summertime. I would not recommend going to this park in June, July or August. Those months are sooo hot. The average temperature is in the 90s and can get up to over 100 which for me is no fun, especially because it’s a park with little to no shade on trails. It’s not only blazing hot but also very busy. For me, more crowds is less fun. It means less parking, less peace being outdoors, and less time to explore when you’re stuck in traffic or looking for parking at trailheads.
The off season starts in November and goes until about March. I’ve been to Arches in September and December. December was my favorite, but with that being said I know that the temperatures can be unpredictable. We went in December this year and it was honestly the perfect weather, but Utah is known for its unpredictable weather so go prepared for anything.
What to bring
Along with your regular traveling needs these were a few things that we did not regret bringing.
Extra pair of hiking socks – I say this mostly for my hubby and daughter who get sweaty feet more easily haha. If your only time to go to the park is in the summer, you’re gonna want to bring good breathable socks and hiking or trail shoes.
Water– Okay okay you should always be bringing water and extra water but i’m telling you it gets hot and dehydration is so common in this park. One trail that many people get dehydrated on is the famous Delicate Arch trail. It’s tougher than people and they underestimate what they should bring.
Sunscreen – You should always be packing sunscreen even in the winter but especially here because of the lack of shade. Nothing makes a trip worse than a sunburn the first day.
Hat- cover up those noses, ears and your dad’s bald head (or yours) no judgment haha. I promise you won’t regret it, especially in the summer when it’s hot and the sun is beating down.
Where to visit
This is the breakdown of my favorite things to do at Arches National Park. There are trails from easy to hard with some being accessible to wheelchairs and some not. Remember that only you know your abilities. I recommend getting a trail app and checking the reviews and conditions of these trails before you go to help navigate which ones you would like to explore.
Delicate Arch Trailhead
If you are one of my followers on Instagram you have probably heard me talk about this trail being my blood, sweat, and tears trail. I have Cerebral Palsy which means that I usually use my energy up three times as fast as others. My muscles tire easily and I don’t have great balance. I was lucky enough to hike this trail which was a huge accomplishment for me.
This trail is listed as moderate and is around 3.2 miles round trip with 629 ft elevation gain. It is a nicely gravelled trail and then turns to a very rocky incline with a dangerous drop around the last corner before you see the phenomenal delicate arch. In the middle of this trail you are going straight up a slick rock face and then you feel like you are almost there and you’re not. Don’t give up hope but remember to listen to your body and your own abilities. This is a very popular trail. It’s become even more popular over the last two years. You will want to pack lots and lots of water if you are going in the summer and I suggest going early. This is usually the first parking lot to fill up. We went in the dark around 5 am or so so that we could make it for sunrise and it was 100 percent worth it.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail
If you need a more family friendly trail or trail that is wheelchair accessible this is a great one to see the Delicate Arch from a far distance. As I mentioned above I hiked the full Delicate Arch Trail once, but when returning to the park I will always visit this trail to see the beautiful arch that actually inspired me to start this blog.
Double Arch Trail
This trail is 0.6 miles long and has only 95 ft elevation gain. This is a great trail for families that just want a short walk to see phenomenal views of beautiful arches. I was able to do this trail even at the end of the day when I was very tired and very sore. I even found out later that I had fractured my pelvis (my sacrum) hiking another trail earlier in the day. I probably shouldn’t have been adventuring more but I wanted to see this beautiful arch.
Side note haha: my injury did not come from the trails being dangerous but rather from me not listening to my body and falling tired onto a very pointy rock at the trail before this one. Always listen to what your body is telling you and be aware of your own abilities. I often do but sometimes I tend to push myself too much and regret it later.
Balance Rock Loop Trail
This trail is a very short stroll from your car and is wheelchair friendly. You can even see this driving through Arches from your car but I would say it’s worth the short walk to see it up closer. It is listed as Easy and a 0.3 mile trail with 55 ft elevation gain.
To see this trail you start at the Devils Garden trailhead that is listed as Hard because you can go on to see many more beautiful arches. However, we just went to Landscape Arch and that portion of the trail was listed as Easy. This section was about 1.9 miles round trip with 282 ft elevation gain. There are several signs along the way that show you short cut offs that you can see other arches such as Tunnel Arch Viewpoint and Pine Tree Arch Viewpoint.
Arches Scenic Drive
This drive is around 17 miles one way and a great option for those that aren’t interested in hiking but seeing phenomenal views. This drive climbs Moab Canyon all the way to Devils Garden. You can view so many arches just from your car. Seeing red rock alone is one of my favorite things to do. Grab a National Parks map on your way in and see different viewpoints. You can jump out of your car to see more views and take some pictures.
Sand Dune Arch Trail
This trail is a great kid friendly trail. Most of the trail as you can tell from the title is in sand. I did this on a girls trip but definitely want to come back to have my toddler visit with me because it’s like a giant sand box that I’m sure she could play in for hours and hours. This trail is 0.3 miles and has an elevation gain of 108ft.
Windows Loop Trail
This trail takes you to another beautiful arch in the park. The great thing about this trail is that if you are tired or need accommodations like wheelchair accessible trails then you can just view this arch from your car. This one may not be wheelchair accessible but it is across from the double arch trail and you can see it even from a short stroll from the parking lot. It is nice to go up close to the arch, especially during sunset according to a park ranger. I was so tired and achy from the trail we did earlier that we decided to save my strength for the arch across the street instead of hiking this one. If you do decide to take this trail it is listed as Easy, 0.7 miles with 98 ft elevation gain.
Park Avenue Trail
The Park Avenue Trail is a great trail to take if you are looking for just a viewpoint or going for a cool hike. It is listed as 1.8 miles with 298 ft elevation gain. I took a short walk down this trail to take a few pictures with my hubby the first time we visited Arches but next time I’m in there I will definitely be doing the full trail.
When I visit every park I have to stop by the visitor centers to get a stamp in my passport book. Passport To Your National Parks Book is sold online and at most of the National Parks. It’s a passport book showing national parks and national monuments where you can add your stamps as you go. You can collect stamps at each of the visitor centers as well as stickers that have fun facts for each park. The visitor centers are also great spots to stop when you need to warm up, cool down, or need another wheelchair accessible place to explore. Many of them even have small museums, exhibits, or videos about the parks.
Arches National Park has only one visitor center but is open year round. Check out www.nps.gov/arch to see if the visitor center is open. It is year round but since the pandemic it has fluctuating hours and I have found it closed for the whole day during some of my trips to Arches.
Where to stay
Are you a camper? Glamper? Lodger? I am usually a camper but try to treat myself to lodging and glamping on occasion. We stayed at the ACT Campground in Moab (https://actcampground.com/). They have lots of options there for tents, RVs, cabin style rooms, and even yurts. We stayed here so it was established and we wouldn’t have to worry about finding a camping spot in or near Moab.
Pros: the amenities were fabulous. You got to camp but also after a long day of camping could come back to a hot shower. They also had a community kitchen to save on eating out since it can be pricey while traveling. If you are passing through onto your next destination you can use their coin laundry.
Cons: The only con of this place I would say is if you are camping it only feels like you’re camping because you are in a tent. Most of the tent spots are really close to other campers so there is not much privacy and you don’t get the whole camping experience. However, this is typical for this type of campground which was just on the outskirts of Moab itself. If you want more of a real camping experience I would highly recommend the Devils Garden Campground in the park itself. Remember to book early as they do fill up very very fast like most of the National Parks.
Where to Eat
When visiting Arches National Park I usually try to bring food to make for lunch or snacks along the trail. I’ve taken both day trips and weekend trips. I highly recommend saving time and money by making easy meals on a small stove for National Park trips so that you will have more time and more money to take more trips!
I find myself spending too much money on food when visiting the parks because of the touristy towns. I’ve visited a few places to eat in Moab and out of all of them I would recommend the Moab Brewery. When I was there last I got the monster burger and it was amazing.
I hope this guide helps you plan your next trip to Arches.