I cannot believe all the beautiful arches at Arches National Park. We visited the park in May of 2015 and originally we had planned to do the park on Saturday, then Canyonlands Natural Park on Sunday. Well, we quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. The park, which was established on April 12, 1929, as a national monument, is actually 76,679 acres and has over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. There was no way we were going to be able to see everything we wanted to in one day. So we went back on Sunday and here are a few of our favorites:
This was Gene’s favorite arch overall. It was formed differently from most of the arches in the park. It is what is known as a pothole arch. It was formed by water erosion from above rather than more typical erosion from the side. The larger opening has a span of 148 feet and a height of 104 feet. It was actually one of the easiest arches to get to. It was only a 1/2 mile round trip from the parking lot. What I thought was really cool was that there weren’t any fences to prevent people from exploring directly beneath and through them. It was a different perspective. Another interesting fact was that it was used as a backdrop for the opening scene on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Thinking about it now, that may have been why Gene liked it so much, lol.
Sand Dune Arch
One arch that we both really liked and enjoyed was the Sand Dune Arch. Not only is it interesting, but it is also located in a sandy slot canyon between two fins, thus shaded. Great place to visit when it is an extremely hot day. The sand is very soft and has a pink or red hue to it. It was a very short ¼ mile hike into the dunes and very easy for most people. I wanted to stay around and play in the sand awhile (especially since it was so cool), but we had others things to do. This is definitely a must-stop on any visit to Arches National Park.
North Window Arch
Here we are in front of the North Window Arch. It is amazing. It is a gentle climb up a gravel loop trail that leads to three massive arches (North and South Windows and Turret Arch). An alternate return, slightly longer, is by way of the primitive loop around the back of the two Windows. The primitive loop trail starts at the South Window viewpoint and is about a mile round trip. Amazing views everywhere you look.
This was my favorite arch by far. It grabbed me as soon as we came around the corner and came into view. I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough to take a look and take some pictures. It was absolutely breathtaking. It measures 71 feet across and 33.5 feet tall. In 1940 a large block of sandstone fell from the arch doubling the size overnight. Boulders from the collapse remain, and can still be seen below the arch. It is a very short ¼ mile round trip hike from the trailhead and you can see the arch the whole time you are getting closer. The thing that I really loved about this arch was that we were able to get fairly close and take pictures from the ground looking up. It was a gorgeous day and the sky was so blue. Against the red sandstone, it almost looked purple. It was amazing. I was truly in awe and wish we had brought lunch and set for a while. We will have to remember this next time.
We had an amazing trip checking out Arches National Park and definitely want to come back and do more exploring. Maybe next time we will take a week and do some camping, really experience Moab! Learn more about the park on their website. Happy travels.
Arches National Park Visitor Information
PO Box 907
Moab, UT 84532-0907
Daily 9 am – 4 pm
Private Vehicle Fee – $30.00
Admits one private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all its occupants.
Motorcycle Fee – $25.00
Admits a private, non-commercial motorcycle and its riders.
Per Person – $15.00
Admits one individual with no car. Typically used for bicyclists, hikers, and pedestrians. Youth 15 and under are admitted free.
Southeast Utah Parks Pass – $55.00
Valid for one year through the month of purchase. Admits one (1) private, non-commercial vehicle or its pass holder to Arches and Canyonlands national parks, and Natural Bridges National Monument.
FYI – During high visitation, there may be significant delays entering the park. You may experience long waits at the entrance station, usually between 9 am and 2 pm. Long lines may continue into the afternoon. At peak visitation, your wait can last up to an hour. They suggest
Parking is limited at all destinations. Popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden often fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays. Parking for oversize vehicles (RVs, trailers) is extremely limited. Leave oversize vehicles in town, or in the visitor center parking lot.
Read more about parking lots and times when they may be busy. For more suggestions on traveling in the park and how to avoid the crowds, visit the Traffic & Travel Tips page.
Arches National Park has many areas that are accessible for people with physical or mobility concerns. The park scenic drive passes many notable arches and rock formations that are visible from the road. This page provides details on accessible activities and facilities.
Heat & Sun
During the summer, expect high temperatures, intense sunlight and low humidity. Eat plenty of food and drink at least one gallon of water each day. Carry and drink water during all activities, such as hiking. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Avoid hiking in the middle of the day. Save strenuous activity for early mornings or evenings. You can get water at the visitor center and at the Devils Garden trailhead and campground. As you can see from the pictures attached to this post, the weather was crazy. Hot and sunny one minute, than overcast and ready to rain the next.
Wear sturdy shoes with enough tread to give you good traction. Do not hike in smooth-soled shoes or boots. Some trails cover uneven terrain and follow rock ledges. In winter, trails may be icy. It’s recommended you wear traction devices on your shoes.
Climbing & Scrambling
Slickrock invites adventure. When you climb or scramble, be sure you can retrace your steps. Climbing up is easier than climbing back down. Sandstone is slippery when wet or covered in sand. Do not climb or walk on arches or major features like Balanced Rock.
Lightning & Flash Floods
Storms and flash floods can be powerful and sudden. When lightning is present, avoid lone trees, cliff edges and high ridges. Crouch low to the ground. Return to your vehicle if possible. Never try to cross a wash that is flooding. Read more on weather.
Stay with companions while hiking; separation can mean getting lost. Do not count on a cellular phone to summon help; cellular service will not reach into many areas of Arches. If you become lost, stay where you are and wait for rescue. Wandering will endanger your life and make finding you difficult. When traveling alone, always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
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