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Guide to Arches National Park: Nature's Stone Masterpieces

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Arches National Park is located in Eastern Utah just 5 miles from the town of Moab. This incredible US destination is renowned for its stunning collection of over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, which have been formed over millions of years through the process of erosion.


Within this Guide to Arches National Park we'll include essential tips for securing timed entry tickets. Prepare for awe-inspiring hikes amidst the iconic stone masterpieces. Explore the vibrant charm of downtown Moab and discover delightful restaurants. We'll also venture to the breathtaking Dead Horse Point State Park and beyond, leaving you with an unforgettable experience in this desert wonderland. Let the adventure begin!


Delicate Arch at sunrise
@ Delicate Arch

WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING ARCHES NATIONAL PARK


When visiting Arches National Park you will want to stay in the town of Moab! One of the greatest advantages of staying in Moab is its close proximity to Arches National Park. The parks entrance is easily accessible with just a short drive away allowing you to maximize your time spent exploring! We personally stayed at Hyatt Place Moab and had a fantastic experience!


Where to stay in Moab
@ Hyatt Place Moab

Beyond its convenience, Moab boasts an adventure playground right at its doorstep. In addition to Arches National Park, the town serves as a gateway to other remarkable destinations such as Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and the Colorado River. There is endless outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking, off-roading, white water rafting, and rock climbing! Moab is also home to numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Moab!

  • Grab lunch or dinner at The Trailhead Public House and Eatery! This casual tavern offers bar favorites such as burgers, sandwiches, and wings.

  • Indulge in delicious margaritas at Fiesta Mexicana! This casual eatery serves classic Mexican dishes such as tacos, carne asada, burritos, and enchiladas.

  • Enjoy dinner at Pasta Jay's! This Italian restaurant is low key and serves thin crust pizza, large portions of pasta, and classic Italian favorites.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK


Shoulder Season: The most popular time to visit Arches is between April and May during the spring and in fall between September to October. Visiting during these months you'll find milder temperatures averaging from 60° - 80° during the day and 30° - 50° at night. Visitors are well aware of the shoulder seasons ideal temperatures and the park is busy during this time.


Summer: Keep in mind summer temperatures usually exceed 100 degrees! Heat stroke is a serious concern when hiking in these conditions. If you plan to visit Arches during summer months I suggest visiting the park early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the heat as best you can. The Summer heat does not keep away the crowds and is a busy time at Arches. If you can, visit the park during the week and avoid holidays for a more remote experience.


Winter: During the winter months there is rarely ever snowfall but the temperatures are cold and there can be ice on the ground! With temperatures ranging from highs of 30° - 50° and lows of 0° - 20°.


Weather in Arches National Park is known to fluctuate sometimes 40 degrees in the same day! Be sure to stay up to date with conditions and road closures within the park before your visit.


Double Arch in Arches National Park
@ Double Arch

GUIDE TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK | TIMED ENTRY TICKETS


Within the past few years visitation to Arches National Park has increased over 70% bringing in 1.8 million people a year! To combat entrance line wait times, parking lot congestion, and overly crowded trails the National Parks Service has implemented a timed entry system in hopes to spread out the amount of visitors throughout the day. I can personally say that this system works and is an absolute improvement!


If you plan to visit Arches National Park from April 1st - October 31st it is required to purchase timed entry ticket to enter the park. I would suggest buying them in advance, especially if you have a specific time you'd like to enter the park. The ticket is $2.00 and is per vehicle. Keep in mind if you plan to visit the park multiple days, you will need separate timed entry tickets for each day you plan to visit. You will also need to purchase an Entrance Pass or hold a National Parks Pass. The Entrance Pass is $30.00 per vehicle and is valid for 7 days. You can purchase the Entrance Pass online or at the park's gate.


**If you are a US Military Veteran and have a valid form of Veteran ID such as a VA card or a driver's license you are a lifetime National Parks Pass holder and have free access to all National Parks within the United States. Present your Veteran ID to the park attendant at the entrance and they will give you a pass!


Sand Dune Arch Trail in Arches National Park
@ Sand Dune Arch Trail

PARK HOURS


Arches National Park is open 24hours! This means if you wanted to visit the park super early to catch sunrise you can with no timed entry ticket (before 7AM or after 4PM)! You will need a timed entry ticket if you plan to visit the park between the hours of 7AM-4PM.


THE BEST HIKES IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK


Sunrise Hike to Delicate Arch | 3.2 mile out and back


I've always been a sunset girl but we knew it would be difficult to achieve the experience we wanted when hiking Delicate Arch, one of the most popular hikes in Arches National Park! Knowing the busier time to go is sunset, we wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible and opted for sunrise instead. We woke up at 4:30AM to hike to Delicate Arch at sunrise and it was absolutely worth it!


5 REASONS TO HIKE DELICATE ARCH AT SUNRISE:
  1. Way less people! We had the Arch practically to ourselves for a whole 30 mins with only about 15 other people there. Hiking Delicate Arch at sunrise is the best way to avoid crowds!

  2. The AM crowd was very respectful, not crowding the Arch, and taking in all it's beauty from a distance allowing others to get pictures of the Arch itself with no one in their photos.

  3. Early in the morning the temperatures are cooler making the hike more enjoyable.

  4. The view is stunning! The sunlight's first rays glimmering over the red rock landscape can make you forget you're still on planet Earth.

  5. Entering Arches National Park before 7AM allows you access into the park without a timed entry ticket! Plus, you can stay within the park for as long as you'd like to continue exploring.

Sunrise at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
@ Delicate Arch

Double Arch | 0.6 out and back


Located in the Windows Section of the park this impressive Double Arch is an absolute must see! It's an easy short hike the whole family can enjoy. You can see the arches from the parking lot, but as you get closer you'll be stunned by just how massive these rock formations really are!


North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch | 1.0 Mile Loop


North Window is a massive arch also visible from the same parking lot as Double Arch. In just a mile you'll see three stunning arches with only 150ft elevation gain! This hike is easy, short and action packed with gorgeous views.


Double Arch hike in Arches National Park
@ Double Arch

Sand Dune Arch | 0.3 out and back


The arch is surrounded by orange sand that reflects onto the red rock cliffs surrounding it making it feel as if you're on planet Mars! This trail is a super short walk from the parking lot that is great for the whole family. After seeing some of the larger arches in the park, Sand Dune Arch is small in comparison but made for the coolest pictures.


Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park
@ Sand Dune Arch

THE STORY OF DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK


A dramatic overlook plunging 2,000 feet to the Colorado River below with panoramic views that seem never ending, Dead Horse Point State Park is a must see while visiting Arches! The State Park is a 37 minute drive from Moab and costs $20 per vehicle to enter. If you have the time, it is definitely worth the stop!


You may be wondering how such a beautiful place got such a name? Cruel cowboys would corral Wild Mustangs onto the mesa, with a 2,000 foot drop surrounding all three sides and only a narrow piece of land leading onto the point, it became a horse trap! They'd best the horses they wanted and for reasons unknown leave the rest corralled on the waterless point. With no hope of survival and no escape the horses were left to die of thirst or fall to their death. Remains of horses were found atop this beautiful point giving it it's name.


Dead Horse Point State Park Overlook
@ Dead Horse Point State Park Overlook
Dear Traveler,

Every destination you set foot in has a story to tell, a beauty to reveal, and memories waiting to be etched in your heart forever. Embrace each step with curiosity, an open mind, and a sense of wonder, for it is in those moments of discovery that we truly come alive!

As your "Travel Guru Bestie," I'm thrilled to share with you an abundance of resources to fuel your wanderlust further. Don't forget to check out some of our other national park guides, carefully crafted to help you plan your next unforgettable trip.



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