Arches National Park
Key information: Arches National Park
- Arches National Park in Utah has a wonderful landscape of eroded sandstone, including over 2,000 natural arches.
- Key walks include the Devil's Garden (to the outstanding Landscape Arch), Park Avenue and Delicate Arch (detailed descriptions in preparation).
- Walkopedia rating90
- Natural interest18
- Human interest3
- Negative points2
- Total rating90
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: N/A
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Arches National Park in Utah has a wonderful landscape of eroded sandstone, including over 2,000 natural rock arches. It contains several areas of extraordinary weather-smoothed rocky towers and rows of narrow-backed “fins” of rock, some sharp and shark-like, many in the form of long, thin, smooth-topped ridges. They are a fine setting for their special glory, a selection of beautiful and magnificent rock arches, including the huge, flat-curved, ultra-slender and all-round amazing Landscape Arch, considered the world’s longest rock arch, and the immaculate, free-standing Delicate Arch. Among these rocks, juniper, pine and an assortment of hardy desert vegetation mellow what would be too harsh, and create a beautiful visual harmony.
Key walks include:
The Devil's Garden is an extraordinary confusion of weather-smoothed rocky towers and rows of narrow-backed "fins". They are a fine setting for a setting a selection of beautiful and magnificent rock arches, including the amazing Landscape Arch. The trail to the Landscape Arch, which all will want to visit, is pretty straightforward and some 2.5km return. It can be extended to the Navajo and Partition arches, and on to the marvellous Double O Arch. It is also the walk-in to the thrilling11.6km Primitive Loop (also called the Devil’s Garden trail), in Walkopedia’s view the finest walk in the park although reasonably hard work. It winds between the fins and towers, climbing their flanks, a fascinating feast of dramatic landscape, with a memorable walk along a narrow sandstone ridge, side-walks to various gorgeous arches, including perhaps the world’s finest and most unlikely, as well as it longest, rock arch, the Landscape Arch.
Delicate Arch is immaculate, a huge yet light-feeling free-standing rock arch on top of a ridge of wind-smoothed sandstone. It is a truly amazing structure, which will require many minutes of quiet contemplation, something which is a bit hard to come by, as it is wildly popular. The 4.8km (3 mile) walk there is a bit of a trudge until you reach the higher ground, when it is a thriller for maybe 15 minutes or so.
Windows and Turret arches
These superb arches can be visited on a short walk, with a perhaps 1.5 mile “primitive trail” which winds round the back of the Windows arches. Must be walked if time allows.
There are plenty of other walks to enjoy, including Tower Arch in the Klondike Bluffs, Broken Arch, and the short Park Avenue near the entrance.
You can walk all the best trails in a day. Walkopedia walked the Devil’s Garden/Primitive Loop, then to the Windows arches, and finally out to Delicate Arch for the glorious reddening of sunset.
The park is justly popular, so don’t expect to be alone, especially in high season. Some walks can be positively crowded. But you will survive, such are the wonders.
Our friends and partners Responsible Travel have a selection of walking and other holidays in South-west USA. You should get good ideas, perhaps for something you hadn’t thought of!
This can be tough walking in hot, dry conditions. Come fully prepared, including carrying plenty of water.
The book is Canyonlands and Arches National Parks by Bill Schneider for Falcon Hiking Guides. Find relevant books on Amazon.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)
The book is Canyonlands and Arches National Parks by Bill Schneider for Falcon Hiking Guides.
Hiking in the USA – Lonely Planet
Find relevant books on Amazon.
Find relevant books on Amazon.
Good maps can be bought locally, easily. The Visitor Centre is an excellent source, providing a free sheet on the park including a basic map, plus lots of other maps. Go there on arrival.
The Trails Illustrated Series, and other specific trail maps, can be bought at the visitor centre.
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. A good online specialist source of worldwide.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk?
March-May (but weather can be inconsistent). Generally cold until late April.
September-Mid November - best times, including tree colours October-November. [WM to re-check]
Winter is very cold. Summer is too hot, and crowded.
Whilst the summer is very hot, the winter can be appealing for visitors who are happy with cold and shorter days, although icy conditions can make a winter expedition perilous.
International/internal flights to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.
This being the USA, almost all visitors arrive by car. There is little other relevant public transport. Car hire is pretty easy.
There is one main road, with offshoots to areas of interest.
A vehicle-based park fee is payable. If you are travelling widely, think of getting a National Park pass.
Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Variable temperatures: often broiling, but it can get very cold. Always bring layers and a waterproof and come prepared for the time of year – and the unexpected.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water (and plan for water supplies in an emergency) and protect yourself.
- Heights: dangerous! Some walks are not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- Dangerous animals, including mountain lions and coyotes, snakes, scorpions, stinging/biting ants and other insects and stinging or sharp plants. Take all appropriate precautions. Check before sitting on or moving rocks and logs.
- Canyon dangers: canyons can be lethal, particularly as a result of flash floods. Assess and prepare for all risks on those walks involving canyon beds.
- Summer lightening storms: get into shelter if one is coming.
- This can be remote country: you will have to carry all your food and other supplies, and help may be hard to get if things go wrong.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
The great majority hike independently. But come fully prepared.
Some people form or join organised/supported expeditions. Travelling here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages.
If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing.
PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable guides or tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.
Nearby Moab is the main town to stay in; other towns further afield; lodges, hotels, restaurants and stores.
There are various accommodation websites.
See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.
A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.
Other information and tips; responsible tourism and charities
Tipping is expected, so come mentally prepared and with enough cash. Check guidebooks for current rates.
Water will be essential: plan carefully.
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
Other things to do in the area
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more