This park is undoubtedly one of the most famous National Parks in the world. A trip to Utah, cannot be without a trip to Arches to visit the symbol of the state – the Delicate Arch.
I’m feeling a burst of excitement as we pass through the park entrance. After seeing this landscape in numerous travel magazines and books growing up, the time of our trip had finally arrived. Like many National parks, once you pass the entrance you are not always met with the highlights or main sights straight away. There is a build up, an introduction to get to know the park. You get a feel of what to expect and then, just as you start to feel comfortable in the surroundings, the Park reveals its gems. The hard-to-get-to sights that most of the time, can only be properly explored by foot. You have to work for it, it doesn’t just reveal itself to anyone. These sights are like a gift from nature.
Basing ourselves in Moab for the next 4 days at the local RV campervan resort, this made it easy to get out of bed early and explore the parks to beat the crowds and the summer heat! Plus the golden hour at sunrise or sunset on the arches is a highlight for many visitors to Arches National Park because the land glows and makes the scenery magical.
Distance: 4.8km roundtrip (3miles)
Elevation: 480 Feet
The alarm is dinging away. We get ready and head outside. The air is crisp but this doesn’t stop us from hiking early, as we know it will be too hot later in the day. We jump in the car and drive from the Moab RV park and drive into Arches National Park, joining the handful of keen, like-minded people who want to make it to the arch as the sun rises.
This hike starts in the Wolfe Ranch carpark, which can fill up very fast. We arrived as soon as the park opened to not miss out, but it was already 3/4 full by then. The trail starts on an easy, well marked, sandy path. As we continue along the trail it begins to turn into a steady uphill until just before reaching the Arch. This hike is a nature lover’s pilgrimage. When walking uphill, the sun was rising, you could hear whispers of excitement whilst surrounded by explorers keen to discover just what the Arch looks like with their own eyes.
The arch is perched on the edge of a cliff, and the surrounding rocks form a sort of amphitheatre. Many people will sit on the edge of the rock face and admire the arch from afar. The more adventurous hikers like to rock scramble their way to get as close to the Arch as possible. When we arrived people kept there distance, respectfully admiring the arch in its surroundings, but it didn’t take long for large groups to arrive, and with that, a line begins to form for hikers to take photos of each other standing right under the Arch. I get it. But it was still a shame to lose the moment.
This trail is exposed to all conditions with a lack of shade. We would suggest wearing a hat and sunscreen if visiting in summer. The best time to visit Arches National Park is during Spring and Fall as temperatures are cooler.
The arch is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park. Once reaching the arch, we have the opportunity to sit and take in the sights. We suggest hiking early as the trail attracts thousands of tourists a day. This trail does get extremely busy, especially at sunrise and sunset. Many of them walk down and stand under the Delicate Arch. There are multiple tour companies arriving early so it is suggested to get into the park as soon as it opens, please double check with the park rangers at Arches for opening times, as these often change, depending on the time of year, you are visiting the park.
In summer, it can be really hot, trust me, I was here at this time of year and our car which had air con was such a blessing. If you are short on time you can see the Delicate Arch from multiple viewpoints. You do still have to get out of your car at Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, here you can walk 90 metres or so and you will be able to see the famous arch from one mile away.
Another view on this arch is from the Upper Viewpoint. This walk is around a 0.8km walk. This viewpoint does include stairs but it does create a somewhat clearer view than the Lower Arch viewpoint.
Double Arch Trail
Distance: 0.5 miles
Elevation: 32 feet
The park is divided up into different sections. Whilst visiting the Balanced Rock, we visited the Double Arch. Not that I should have favourites but, this arch formation was one of my favourites!
The Double Arch trail is a 0.5-mile round trip. The Double Arch name is a bit of a giveaway, but this formation creates two arches that intertwine each other. The trail is a sandy, flat path that leads to the base of the arches. Feeling adventurous, we actually climbed the up the rock face to sit right under the arches. These arches are massive, and we spent around half an hour capturing different angles.
Also, in this section of the path, we saw the Parade of the Elephants. These rocks were named this due to the outline of the rocks creating the picture of exactly as the name suggests, Elephants on Parade.
Duration: 1.2 miles
The Window Loops hike is a 1.2-mile return to the car park. This loop is a great one for all ages, it is relativity flat throughout the walk.
With the windows, many people like to climb over the rocks and stand to look out of the arch or face it and get a picture. As mentioned it can be busy and hot in summer, so make sure a hat and sunscreen are accessible.
Balancing Rock Loop Trail
Elevation: 45 feet
This exquisite rock formation is well worth the visit. The Balancing Rock trail is a popular trail due to the ease of access, so be prepared for crowds. This is a great trail for all ages. The loop walk is paved and graded as easy.
This rock stands at 39 metres tall and the boulder made of sandstone weighs over 4million kg.
The Balancing rock can be seen from the park road. It can be located 14.8km from the Arches Visitor Centre.
A romantic picnic stop in Arches is positioned across the road from the Balanced Rock. The facilities include picnic tables, toilets and a covered canopy. Here you can sit and admire the Balanced Rock as well as the Salt Valley.
Duration: 1.9 miles
Elevation: 259 feet
Visiting the Devil’s Garden’s trail is well worth the drive. Situated in the top portion of the National Park, we were well in for a treat. The Devil’s Garden is a well-kept trail, making it a heavily trafficked route. Stephen was very keen to visit this trail as it showcases the Landscape Arch. This arch is the largest arch on the planet. We were both pretty amazed by the size of it whilst it stretched over the barren land. Visiting this arch definitely topped off our trip to Arches National Park.