When Teddy and I visited Arches National Park on our Southwest Road trip, we had just shy of a day to spend exploring the park. If you find yourself only having about one day in the area, below are our tips on how to spend your time.
Where to Watch Sunrise
While a lot of people make the trek up to Delicate Arch to watch sunrise, we are so glad we did not chose that option. We have never hiked Delicate Arch prior, so hiking that trail in the dark (and in the winter while we were there) would not have been enjoyable. We decided to watch the sunrise at The Windows Arch Trail. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the first window. The sun will come up through this arch if you sit there to watch it. We opted for watching the sunrise over by Turret Arch to watch the sun rays reflect off the arch. Since the trail is short, you can walk all around the area and get various perspectives of the sunrise and continue hiking on the primitive loop if you’d like more time to explore the area.
Across the parking lot from The Windows double Arch. It’s also a pretty short hike but when added onto the primitive loop at windows can be about 2 miles total. This one is unique as it features a double arch rather than a single arch.
Delicate Arch Hike
After our early morning hikes by the arches we decided to just commit to doing the hike to Delicate Arch. This is the most iconic arch, as it’s on the Utah license plate. The hike is about 3 miles roundtrip and starts out with an old ranch and petroglyphs on a rock wall. It’s also incredibly uphill and there’s not much shade along the trail. We started out around 8:45 AM so we were still there before the crowds rolled in. We got back down to the car around 11 AM. We stopped along the trail and at the top for photos and to hang out for a bit so when we headed back down, we passed a lot more people than when we were coming up. While I don’t know that I’d need to hike that trail again, it definitely was worth it to see the arch up close.
Lunch + Caffeine
We were quite hungry after our morning of hiking and didn’t really pack any food other than snacks, so we left the park over lunch and headed to Antica Forma in Moab for lunch. They have incredible Neopolitan pizza and I tried the pistachio pizza. I’ve never had that type of pizza before but it was out of this world. The crust and flavors were amazing and we saved our leftovers for a snack later that afternoon.
If you need a mid day caffeine pick me up, check out Moab Garage Co. It was still closed when we visited since it was during the off season, but this is definitely on our list for the next time we’re in the Moab area.
Devil’s Garden Loop
We headed back into the park after lunch and went headed straight to the back of the park toward the Devil’s Garden trail. The entire trail is just under 8 miles. With our hiking earlier that morning and knowing some of the trail was primitive, we opted for hiking just out to Landscape Arch which was only about a 2 mile hike round trip. This arch is one of the longest arches in the world at about 300 feet long. We didn’t go to any of the arches on this trail, but if we had more time, we may have checked out a few others before heading back to the car.
Since we were headed to a specific spot for sunset outside of the park, and it being winter, the sunset was around 5:30 PM. If we had more time in the park like during a summer month with more sun, we likely would have hiked to Sand Dune Arch as well as along Wall Street in the park.
- If you don’t already have one, purchase an America the Beautiful Pass for $80. This gets you into all the national parks as well as other recreation areas and state parks. If you decide to do other Utah national parks on your trip, after 2-3 visits, this pass pays for itself.
- Nearby is the Canyonlands National Park as well as Dead Horse Point State Park. They are both within about 20 minutes of Arches National Park.
- There’s not options for food or drinks in the park, so come prepared. Either bring picnic food into the park or prepare to leave the park and get food in Moab like we did.
- From around March through October are the busiest times in the park, so be prepared for large crowds. The best way to avoid crowds is to arrive to the park very early in the morning or to visit later in the evening after people have left.
- Bring lots of water into the park, especially in the summer months because there’s not places to get any.
- Pets are not able to hike with you at Arches but they are able to be with you at the campground.
- Only a few arches are visible from the road, so prepare to park and do a light walk or hike to be able to view additional arches.