The Absolute Best Hikes in Arches National Park

The Absolute Best Hikes in Arches National Park by BoozingAbroad

Heading out to Arches National Park? While it isn’t one of the larger national parks, planning ahead is still important, especially when you are planning to hike. We spent a week in the park and have all of the information on the best hikes in Arches National Park. 

From where to stay in Moab, to what to expect when hiking to Delicate Arch, this guide will have it all. Keep reading to find out more!

Psst: Looking for more info on the National Parks in Utah? Check out our road trip guide for Utah’s National Parks

About Arches National Park 

arches sign

Located just north of Moab, Utah, Arches National Park is just over 75,000 acres and is known for the more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. This park was originally established as a national monument in 1929, but in 1971, it was redesignated as a national park. 

How Arches are formed 

Unlike natural bridges, which are normally formed by a current of water moving through it and carving its shape (i.e. a river), arches are formed through erosion and weathering.  Natural arches are impermanent, as erosion is always occurring.  Today’s cliffs and rocks fins will become tomorrow’s (aka a few million years’) arches, while today’s arches will become tomorrow’s rubble.

According to the national park, “To be one of the park’s official stone arches, a hole must have an opening of at least three feet (1 meter) in any one direction. There is NO requirement for width.”  The 2,000 documented arches in the park range from sliver-thin to over a 300-foot span.

Best Time To Visit Arches National Park Utah 

best hikes in arches national park

Arches National Park is great all year-round, but weather will play a deciding factor in your visit.

The most popular times to visit are in the spring (April-May) and in the fall (September-October) since the desert temperatures can be absolutely brutal during the summer, not to mention the crowds of people. 

In the summer, temperatures typically skyrocket into the 90°F range and it’s not uncommon to have days over 100°F. 

Because there is little shade, even the best hikes in Arches National Park can be dangerous in these conditions. 

How long to spend in Arches National Park? 

You should consider spending at least 1 full day and 1 night in Arches National Park. Despite the fact that this park is small in comparison to some others, there is a lot to offer.

During the day, you can plan on hiking 2-3 of the best hikes in Arches National Park and at night, join a ranger-led star gazing expedition or just star gaze on your own.

We spent a full week here and completed the majority of the park in 2-3 days.

We had perfect weather and took our time to do all the best hikes in Arches National Park. Anymore than 3 full days and you’ll likely have completed the entire park.

How To Get To Arches

Located on the eastern side of Utah, Arches National Park can be accessed a variety of ways. The most common way to get to Arches is to fly into Salt Lake City and drive the 4 hours to get to Moab. 

From the east, you fly into Denver and drive roughly 5 hours and 30 minutes to Moab (or Grand Junction for a shorter 2-hour drive). 

If you are trying to do the “Mighty 5” road trip, flying into Las Vegas will set you up for a 6 hour and 45 minute drive to Moab, but with stops at the other 4 Utah national parks along the way. 

Where to Stay 

Moab Utah Hotels

Closest to park: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Moab

This hotel is the closest physical hotel to the park entrance, making this a quick 4-minute drive to get to the entrance station.  All rooms are air-conditioned and feature a sitting area with a sofa, a microwave, and a small refrigerator and private bathroom.  

Amenities include an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, cable TV, and free breakfast to fill you up before you do all of the best hikes in Arches National Park.  

>> Click here to check current prices and book your stay now

Best for walkability: Expedition Lodge

Expedition Lodge is a motel located off the main road and in the best location for walking to stores and restaurants in downtown Moab. This motel features air-conditioned rooms equipped with cable TV. 

Amenities include a swimming pool, in-room coffee maker, free toiletries, and free Wi-Fi. 

>> Click here now to book your stay at one of downtown Moab’s best hotels for walkability

Walkable option 2: Best Western Plus Greenwell Inn

Best Western Plus Greenwell Inn is only 10 minutes from Arches National Park and is located off the main road making this another great choice for walkability. All rooms offer cable TV and a small refrigerator for your leftovers and snacks. 

Amenities include a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, free Wi-Fi, a free breakfast buffet, and a fitness center. 

>> Click here to check current prices or book your stay now

Budget Friendly: Super 8 by Wyndham Moab

The Super 8 Motel in Moab is about 5 minutes from downtown and 5 minutes from the park so you won’t be far from either attraction.

Amenities include free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, air conditioning, and cable TV.

>> Click here to book your awesome budget-friendly stay now

Looking for more options? Click here to see all the accommodations in Moab. 

Airbnb

Another great option is an Airbnb!  If you are new to Airbnb, click this link here to get signed up and experience your home away from home.  

Moab Camping and RV 

There are plenty of places to park your RV in Moab, but we’d be failing you if we didn’t mention the amount of FREE places to camp outside of Moab near the park.  Click here to see the BLM Land in Utah.

For those looking for hookups, we’d recommend these:

Closest to Arches: Moab Valley RV Resort & Campground 

Best for walkability: Canyonlands RV Resort & Campground

Where we stayed: Moab Rim RV Campark

Arches Hiking Tips / Gear Suggestions

Packing for a day hike - the ultimate list for day hiking essentials by BoozingAbroad header

Practice “Leave No Trace”

If you’re unfamiliar with “Leave No Trace”, it means to keep the land as you found it. Don’t leave trash. Stay on the marked trails. Don’t feed/pet wildlife.

Sunscreen, layers, and hats

The sun and weather can be intense on hikes and shade isn’t always available. Always carry sunscreen with you. You’ll never catch us without it.

Water, water, water

Don’t underestimate how quickly the body can dehydrate on a hike. We typically hike with our hydration bladders and suggest a minimum of 1 gallon per person, per day, depending on the length/difficulty of your hike(s).

For more tips and what to buy, read our Packing for a Day Hike guide. We’ve included all the essentials you might need, no matter what type of weather/hike you are planning for.

Map of the Best Hikes in Arches National Park Map 

Use this map below to see where all the arches are as well as the trailheads for each hike below!

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: To view the layers and see the names of the places on this map, click the tab in the top left corner. You can select the check marks to show or hide certain layers. If you select the icons on the map, you will get more information about the point of interest.

HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP: If you select the star icon next to the map name, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. To view it, open Google Maps in desktop or on your phone, select the menu button, go to “Your Places,” scroll to the right to Maps, and you will see this map.

Best hikes in Arches National Park 

Devil’s Garden Trail Loop (including Landscape Arch and Double O Arch) 

double o arch overview

Double O Arch

  • Distance: 7.8 miles for the full loop
    • 4.1 miles round-trip to Double O Arch (out-and-back)
    • 1.9 miles round-trip to Landscape Arch (out-and-back)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,131 feet for the full Devil’s Garden loop
    • 672 feet to Double O Arch
    • 259 feet to Landscape Arch
  • Why it’s awesome: If you do the full loop, you see SEVEN arches on this trail. Even if you only make it to Double O Arch, you’ll see 6 of the 7. Landscape Arch is one of the top arches to see in the park!

This was our favorite hike so we are considering it one of the best hikes in Arches National Park for that reason! This hike can be broken into smaller hikes depending on your skill level and we’ll start with the easiest and work our way up to the hardest.

To Landscape Arch:

arches - landscape arch

Landscape Arch

From the trailhead, you’ll be able to easily get to Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. This portion of the loop is an easy walk on sand to get to the Landscape Arch, one of the longest arches in the world. 

Also on the hike, you will see a spur trail for both Pine Tree and Tunnel Arch. If you are worried about time, skip these and head straight to the Landscape Arch.  If you have time, you can view them on your way back. 

To Double O Arch:

rock climbing double o

We only hiked to the Double O Arch, but we thoroughly loved this hike and the diverse type of scenery and climb. The Arches on this hike include: Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, and Double O Arch. 

Once past Landscape Arch, this hike quickly gets technical. In order to get to any of the arches, you might walk at a 45-degree angle up large slickrocks. We repeatedly needed to use our hands on this portion and hiking boots or trail runner shoes are highly recommended.

Once up the first set of slickrocks, you can access the Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. 

partition arch

Partition Arch

navajo arch

Navajo Arch

These arches will deviate from the trail to Double O Arch and are out-and-back hikes. Both are short and worth the detour. Back on the trail, you’ll need to cross a massive rock fin. We didn’t know what this was either and there is only a sign on the return trip. If you are scared of heights, this might be a tough walk.

double o arch fin

You’ll walk across the narrow rock fin to get to the other side with seriously EPIC views of the canyon to your right.

It was our favorite part of the hike!

Once across the rock fin, it takes about 10 more minutes to reach the first viewpoint of Double O Arch. We almost missed it but Chris spotted it!

From here, you’ll scale down another slickrock to get to a sandy bottom and walk on a marked trail to get to the Double O Arch. 

arches - double o arch

Full Devil’s Garden Loop:

The complete Devil’s Garden Trail Loop is only recommended for skilled hikers because once you pass Double O Arch, it becomes a “primitive trail” meaning that there are minimal markings, no real trail to follow, and rock scrambling might be involved.

The Arches on this hike include: Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, Double O Arch, and Private Arch. 

Near the Landscape Arch, you’ll see a sign for the loop and can go right or left. Left takes you to the Landscape Arch and Double O Arch and right will start you down the primitive trail.

It doesn’t matter which way you go since it’s a loop, but we recommend going to the left towards Double O Arch. You’ll get to see the majority of the arches first. 

Delicate Arch Trail 

arches - delicate
  • Distance: 3 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 500-600 feet
  • Why it’s awesome: For a relatively short hike, it’s a killer workout to see one of the most infamous arches in the world!

Hiking to Delicate Arch is a must-do hike when visiting Arches National Park and it would be criminal of us to not add it to the Best Hikes in Arches National Park guide.

No matter the time of year you do this hike, it’s going to be busy.

This is the number 1 hike to do in the park and everyone will be on it.

delicate arch hike hill

Half way up the massive climb on slickrock

From the trailhead, you’ll quickly have elevation gain with some minor hills which is just a nice warm up for the big climb.

If you aren’t walking through sand, you’ll be on slickrock for this hike so it’s really important you have proper footwear…sneakers and boots.

DO NOT WEAR SANDALS! 

Seems silly to say, but you’d be amazed at how many people we saw wearing sandals and flip-flops.

Once up the massive climb, trust us, you’ll know when you see it, the trail will flatten out briefly before your final ascent.

To get to the arch, you’ll walk along a cliff wall and physically climb over a small rock ledge to access the arch. 

delicate arch hike

Hiking to Delicate Arch isn’t easy and according to the sign, it’s considered moderate. We did this hike coming off of 3 weeks of minimal exercise and the struggle was real.

There is NO shade and the heat radiates off the slickrock making it even hotter.

If you are going to hike to Delicate Arch, please consider going in the early morning or late afternoon and take plenty of water. 

PRO TIP: Near the end of the first half of the hike, you’ll see an arch up the right that forms a perfect window to see the Delicate Arch. It’s definitely worth the climb to see the view!

delicate arch window

Sand Dune Arch / Broken Arch Loop 

Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch

  • Distance: 2.8 miles round trip, loop
  • Elevation Gain: 320 feet
  • Why it’s awesome: 3 arches in under 3 miles and this hike isn’t so crowded

We genuinely believe the Sand Dune Arch / Broken Arch loop is the most underrated hike in the park which makes this one of the best hikes in Arches National Park. We did the full 2.8-mile loop and had a blast!

There are 2 places to start this trail but the main place is the Sand Dune Arch Trailhead parking lot.

If you are camping in the park, then you’d use the Broken Arch Trailhead which is located in the campground. 

Broken Arch-2

Broken Arch

Tapestry arch

Tapestry Arch

Starting at the Sand Dune Arch Trailhead, it’s a quick and flat walk to get to the Sand Dune Arch.

At the fork, make a right!

This is a great option to beat the heat and get out of the sun! Since the Sand Dune Arch is located within a small rock cluster, it will be nice and shady. 

After visiting the Sand Dune Arch, trace your steps back to the fork, this time going left to get to Broken Arch about 1 mile away.

The Broken Arch has a crack in the middle of it giving it the appearance of being broken. 

To continue on to Tapestry Arch, go through the Broken Arch and follow the cairns. If you are running short on time, we’d suggest skipping the arch.

It was nice, but the first two are enough!

The next portion of this hike is quiet since most people don’t do the full loop. The Tapestry Arch is about another 15-minute walk away through the Broken Arch and can be seen from far away.

This arch looks as though it’s hanging in the rock giving it a tapestry feel. 

Once you reach the arch, the loop continues through the campground (with restroom access). From the trailhead at the campground, make a left and go left at the circle. The trailhead is between 2 campsites. 

Once back on the path, follow the cairns to finish the loop.

DISCLOSURE: We did lose the cairns on the hike at one point and had to circle back to find out where we lost them. It appears this is a common occurrence as several footprints were all over the incorrect location. 

Windows Loop and Turret Arch Trail 

north and south window

North and South Window

  • Distance: full loop is 1.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 154 feet
  • Why it’s awesome: The Windows Trail gives you access to 3 arches (North Arch, South Arch and Turret Arch) and in the same parking lot is the Double Arch. 

The Windows Loop and Turret Arch Trail is one of the most hiked trails in the park because of the accessibility of arches.

Mostly flat, you can see the North Window and Turret Arch from the parking lot. A short hike past the North Window Arch will reveal the South Window Arch. 

This hike is listed as easy and it’s a nice quick option to see some arches.

Double Arch Trail

arches - double arch
  • Distance: 0.6 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: minimal
  • Why it’s awesome: Easily accessible and can be seen from the parking lot

The Double Arch Trail is a super short hike where you can stand under the Double Arch. This trail will be packed due to its accessibility and ease for all ages.

This is one of the best hikes in Arches National Parks for all ages and is a simple, short hike. 

Park Avenue Trail

park avenue
  • Distance: 1.8 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet
  • Why it’s awesome: Named Park Avenue because it resembles walking on a street surrounded with high rises. There are no buildings here, just big beautiful rocks. 

This hike is suggested to do one-way starting at the Park Avenue Viewpoint and ending in the bottom.

This only works if you have 2 cars, otherwise, you need to walk back up it.

If you are looking for an empty hike, this trail was consistently empty when we stopped at the viewpoint multiple times. 

If you are strapped for time, just enjoy the views at the lookout point at the top and the bottom. 

Balanced Rock Loop Trail

balanced rock arches
  • Distance: 0.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain:  minimal
  • Why it’s awesome: a 3600-ton bolder is perfectly balanced on a spire

The Balanced Rock Loop Trail is a quick and easy paved trail that will circle the massive balanced rock. The loop around the rock is impressive, not to mention the surrounding scenery from the loop. 

Fiery Furnace and Surprise Arch (Must pay to hike)

fiery furance
  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 440 feet
  • Why it’s awesome: since this is a permit-only trail, it tends to be less crowded and it’s unlike any other trail which is why some consider it one of the best hikes in Arches National Park

This trail requires a guide and/or a permit to hike and it’s common knowledge that you will get lost on this trail.

This trail weaves through the Fiery Furnace, a large maze of hoodoos with no sight accessibility in the deep canyons.

This hike will require rock scrambling, climbing, jumping and the open-mindedness to explore and not be scared about getting lost.

The only marking on the trail are arrows and most people get lost 2-3 times on this hike which is why permits or guides are required. 

This hike was closed during COVID. Check the National Park Service website to get updated information before you visit.

Tips and Safety Info for Arches National Park hiking 

Turret Arch

Turret Arch

Like any hike, it’s important to make sure you have the right supplies as things can (and will) go wrong when you least expect them to.

Arches National Park is in the desert and during the summer months, temperatures can top out in the 100s.

Even the best hikes in Arches National Park have NO shade so it’s essential you take plenty of water (at least 2 liters per person), hat, sunglasses, sunblock and the proper shoes.

Hiking in Arches will be a mix of slickrock and sand. Slickrock earned its name because it’s slick, especially in rain, snow or ice. Please be smart and wear the right footwear.

Also, please be mindful that snakes and other animals roam through the park. Stay on the trails.

Where to Next?

canyonlands - grand view

Canyonlands National Park – Grand View Point Trail

Moab is the hub not only to Arches National Park, but to Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.

For more on Canyonlands, check out of hiking guide. (coming soon)

Dead Horse Point State Park is located just outside of Canyonlands and offers incredible views.

  • Entry to the park is $20 a vehicle (waived if you are paying to camp in the park) and there is only 1 hiking trail, a 4-mile loop around the canyon rim.
  • If you have 3-4 hours to spare, this park is worth the stop in!

Overall – the best hikes in Arches National Park

pine tree arch

The best hikes in Arches National Park are all very different and range from easy to strenuous. No matter which hike you do, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful scenery and views.

If you are looking for other parks in Utah, check out our Road Trip to the Mighty 5 National Parks here. 

For more information on Utah, click the image below:

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About Boozing Abroad

We are Samantha & Chris and we are Boozing Abroad (literally). Both stateside and overseas, we are connecting people with local cultures through local booze!

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