Arches National Park Delicate Arch

10 Tips for Arches National Park in Utah

Last Updated on April 29, 2024 by Kelly

Arches National Park is one of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks. As you might expect, the park is known for its arches! To our amazement, we learned that there are over 2,000 arches in the park!

We recently visited Arches National Park and absolutely fell in love with this park. We saw sheer rock cliffs, giant rocks seemingly balanced on top of one another, and of course huge stone arches. In this post, we are sharing our best tips for visiting Arches National Park!

Arches National Park in Utah Delicate Arch
Just reached Delicate Arch! There’s a line forming on the left of the photo to take a photo underneath the arch.

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10 Tips for Visiting Arches National Park in Utah

As you prepare for your trip, purchase a guide book to Arches National Park. You’ll get to read in-depth about the park and choose your favorite hikes! You’ll also want to make sure that you pick up a park map in advance of your trip.  

Below you’ll find our best tips for visiting Arches National Park. 

Tip #1: Get Your Tickets in Advance

If you’re planning to visit Arches National Park, we highly recommend that you purchase timed entry tickets in advance of your visit. Tickets for a one-month block are released 3-months ahead of time. There are a limited number of tickets available the day before your requested date of entry, but we would not rely on that because they can sell out quickly. Instead, make sure that you purchase your timed entry tickets. Be sure to check out the fee and ticketing information in advance of your visit. 

Tip #2: Plan for the Weather

As part of the Colorado Plateau, Arches National Park is located in the high desert. Temperatures can vary quite a bit, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

We recommend dressing in layers and packing lots of sun protection. It’s a good idea to wear clothing that offers UV protection.

When we visited Arches National Park in the late spring, temperatures were in the 90s. For that reason, we planned to wake up early and complete our hikes before it got too hot out.

Arches National Park was just one of our stops during our three-week road trip to Utah and Arizona. Be sure to check out our trip highlights!

Tip #3: Pack Enough Food and Water

There are no restaurants or cafes in the park, so be sure to bring your own meals and beverages. We used a Yeti cooler in our car to keep our meals and snacks cool. That way, when we got back to the car, we could have a decent meal!  (Just make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and always pack out what you pack in.)

Also make sure that you bring enough water. It’s good practice to carry more than you think you’ll need.

hiking at arches national park to delicate arch

Tip #4: Pack the 10 Essentials

It’s always good practice to carry the 10 Essentials with you when you are hiking. If you ever encounter a wilderness emergency, you’ll want to be prepared.

Here are some gear recommendations for hiking in Arches National Park. We really like insulated water bottles because they keep water nice and cool during the hike! We also recommend having a day pack and good sun protection. A wide-brimmed hike plus your favorite sunscreen is highly recommended.

Also be sure to bring a good pair of hiking shoes. (Please don’t wear flip-flops on longer trails. We saw several people do this, and it’s not worth risking a foot or ankle injury!) Make sure you’ve broken in your hiking boots before you hit your first trail.

Tip #5: Read Current Alerts

Arches National Park’s official website will post any alerts and/or trail closures. You’ll also be able to determine which facilities are currently open. It’s a good idea to research these in advance of your visit. You can also speak to a park ranger when you enter the park. 

Tip #6: Be Prepared for Crowds

Even with timed ticket entry, there could be crowds during your visit. Arches National Park is a very popular place! Be prepared to see lots of people on the trail, and it may be difficult to finding a parking space at some of the parking lots. You can check out the park’s webcams and tips for parking lots in advance too. It’s a good idea to have a back-up plan of other attractions just in case. 

Tip #7: Know the Rules and Regulations

You’ll also want to make sure that you know all the park rules in advance of your visit. For example, Arches National Park does not allow pets on trails. You’re also not allowed to use drones at national parks. You’re also not allowed to walk on the arches. See the full list of regulations at Arches National Park, especially for specific outdoor activities that may require permits. 

Tip #8: Go Stargazing

Arches National Park has some of the darkest skies in the entire United States. Arches National Park has even become certified as an International Dark Sky Park. If you want to see the Milky Way, plan to spend at least one evening in the park. (And if you like astrophotography, don’t forget to bring your gear!) Rangers even occasionally lead stargazing talks, so see if that’s an option during your visit. 

Tip #9: Locate the Restrooms

It’s a good idea to locate the restrooms in the park in advance. There are toilet pits at Delicate Arch, Devils Garden, and the Windows and Double Arch. Give yourself plenty of time to use the restroom, because you may need to find a parking spot.

Tip #10: Leave No Trace

Whenever you visit a national park, please follow Leave No Trace principles. These guidelines help protect the natural habitat for future generations to come. You’ll want to make sure that you stay on marked trails, don’t litter, and don’t feed the wildlife. hiking at arches national park

Best Things to See

Arches National Park Visitor Center

The visitor center at Arches National Park is located right at the entrance, so you can’t miss it! If you’re not in a hurry to make it to a particular trail head, it’s definitely worth stopping by the visitor center. There’s a gift shop, bookstore, exhibits, and a theater. There will also be park rangers at the visitor center, so if you have a question about current conditions, recommendations, or permits, you can get all your questions answered.

Delicate Arch

We’re starting this list with Delicate Arch, and that’s because it is the most iconic arch in Utah. (This is the one that’s on the license plates and postage stamps!) One of the things that makes this truly a geographical marvel is the fact that it is freestanding. The opening is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. Hikers travel from all across the world to capture a photo under this arch! (We even witnessed a proposal when we visited!)

The arch was first named “delicate” in 1934 when it was described as “the most delicately chiseled arch in the entire area.” Since then, this arch has gone by the name Delicate Arch. Stone arches can be relatively fragile, as they are impermanent structures. With enough time (typically hundreds and hundreds of years), they will one day fall down. (Wall Arch somewhat recently fell in 2008.) For that reason, it’s important to see the arches while you can! 

Arches National Park in Utah delicate arch

Hiking Directly to Delicate Arch

You can hike directly to the base of the arch. The trail is 3 miles roundtrip with 480 feet of elevation gain. The trail to the arch is labeled as moderate in difficulty. (You can read all about our hike to Delicate Arch!)

This is a heavily trafficked trail, so don’t expect to be by yourself out there! We visited over Memorial Day weekend, and we woke up super early to be at the trailhead by 6am. At 6:20am, the lot was completely full! We were shocked that we barely made the cut. However, if you plan to visit off season, you are less likely to have that issue. We went during peak season so we did expect there to be crowds.

As you begin your hike, don’t forget to see the indigenous people’s petroglyphs before leaving the parking lot. There is a very short loop just past the trailhead that will take you directly to the carvings. It’s believed that these were created in the 1600s. The carvings depict a hunting scene. 

Petroglyphs in Arches National Park in Utah delicate arch
Don’t forget to check out the petroglyphs!

We hiked this trail with our toddler. We saw a lot of people call this a “family-friendly hike.” Most of the trail felt pretty safe to us. However, once you reach the arch, there are some pretty significant drops. (And it can be crowded with a lot of people.) So, be sure to use extra caution and supervise young children. 

Other Ways to See Delicate Arch

If you’re not up for the hike to Delicate Arch (either because of time availability or difficulty level), there are some other options to see it. You can go to the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, which will allow you to see it from a mile away. You only need to walk about 100 yards to the viewpoint. However, it should be noted that the arch will appear pretty tiny from that distance. You can also go to the Upper Viewpoint, which is about a half mile walk.

Balanced Rock

Another one of our favorite things to see at Arches National Park was Balanced Rock. At first look, it appears that Balanced Rock is composed of two separate rocks stacked on top of each other, but really it is one rock that has been eroded over time. The name “balanced” is a bit of a misnomer since there isn’t any balancing going on, but it does give that appearance! The shape of this rock is actually caused by erosion over time, which has given it a bit of a pedestal. 

Balanced Rock is 128 feet tall and it’s easily visible from the road. There’s a parking lot right next to it. You can easily view Balanced Rock from the parking lot, and you can also follow a short trail loop if you have a bit more time. We visited over Memorial Day Weekend and this parking lot was almost empty, despite the crowds. I think it’s because it’s a very quick sight to see, so people typically don’t need to spend a lot of time there with their vehicles. 

Balanced Rock will fall one day due to erosion. Interestingly, there previously was another rock formation next to it called “Chip-Off-the-Old-Block” that fell in the winter of 1975-1976. Honestly, all the more reason to visit these parks while the structures still stand! 

Toddler at Arches National Park Balanced Rock
Toddler approved!

Double Arch and the Windows

Hiking to Double Arch will take you to the highest concentration of natural arches in the entire world. It is called Double Arch because two arches share the same foundation. Instead of side-to-side water erosion, it was created by downward water erosion. 

To get to Double Arch, there is a short loop trail that is .6 miles roundtrip, with only 95 feet of elevation gain. 

In addition to seeing Double Arch (which is cool enough in-and-of-itself), you can also easily see the Windows because they share a parking lot. 

If you’re limited for time, this is a great option to see what the National Park Service calls the “beating heart” of Arches National Park. At the Windows, you can see the North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch all within a .7 mile trail roundtrip.

This area of the park also contains the Parade of Elephants, which is a rock formation that looks like a series of elephants linked together trunk-to-tail! 

If you’re short on time, this area of the park packs a lot of punch!

Devils Garden

Devils Garden is another area of the park that is full of opportunities. Here you can see spires, arches, and fins (massively tall and thin rock walls). 

If you’re looking for an easy hike, you should definitely see Landscape Arch. The trail is only 1.9 miles long (252 feet of elevation gain). Landscape Arch is one of the world’s longest arches (306 feet). It’s very long and skinny, and is only 11 feet wide at its smallest section. 

If you have the time, ability, and energy for a longer hike, you can continue this trail to Double O Arch. (Total duration is 4.1 miles and 672 feet of elevation gain.) You will need to do some scrambling. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with a keyhole arch that resembles an O.

Park Avenue Viewpoint

Finally, we recommend visiting the Park Avenue Viewpoint. The parking lot to this viewpoint is near the entrance to the park, and it’s an easy place to stop on your way in or out. From the viewpoint, you will be able to see some of the park’s most famous monoliths. The have names such as the Three Gossips, the Courthouse Towers, and Queen Nefertiti. (Among others.)

There is a paved trail to the viewpoint. If you’d like a closer look, you can complete a short tail (2 miles round trip).

Arches National Park at Sunset

We definitely recommend that you stick around Arches National Park for sunset. Golden hour is spectacular in the high desert. 

If you have a specific place you want to watch the sunset, like Delicate Arch, give yourself plenty of time before sunset to find parking and to complete the hike. If you do hike during sunset, be sure to bring a headlamp so that you can safely walk back to your vehicle. I also recommend wearing hiking boots to help protect your feet.

We think that Balanced Rock is a great place to watch the sunset. You can view Balanced Rock from the parking lot, so you don’t have to complete a long hike and hike back in the dark. You can wait comfortably in your car once you have your spot!

To help you plan your sunset visit, make sure you check the weather forecast to learn the exact time of sunset. We recommend arriving to your spot 30 to 60 minutes before the projected sunset.


Two-Day Itinerary 

If you have two days at Arches National Park, we recommend the following itinerary. This itinerary will leave you plenty of time to relax in the late afternoon and early evening.

Day 1 

Wake Up Early: Try to get to the park before 7am if you are visiting during peak season.

Delicate Arch: The trail to the arch is 3.2 miles roundtrip. Expect to spend around 3 hours hiking, enjoying the view of the arch, waiting in line for a photo at the top, and viewing the petroglyphs. 

Balanced Rock: Balanced Rock is easily viewable from the roadside lookout. If you want to walk the short loop, you can spend between 30-60 minutes here.

Park Avenue Viewpoint: On the way out of the park, stop by the Park Avenue Viewpoint. If you still have some energy, you can hike the Park Avenue Trail (1.8 miles roundtrip). 

Late Afternoon: During the afternoon, head back to your hotel and relax by the pool

Dinner: See our recommended restaurants in Moab. Go to bed early for your next day at the park.

Day 2 

Wake up early: Because you’ve already completed the hike to Delicate Arch (one of the busiest trails in the park), you have a little more wiggle room about your arrival time. If you’re visiting during peak season, you’ll still want to get to the park early in the morning so you don’t have to wait too long at the entrance.

Double Arch: The Double Arch Trail is a .6 mile roundtrip hike that is fairly easy to complete.

The Windows: In the same parking lot as Double Arch, you can also walk to the trailhead for the Windows. The loop trail is .7 miles long. 

Landscape Arch: Next, head to the Landscape Arch trailhead. This trail is 1.9 miles long.

Late Afternoon: During the afternoon, head back to your hotel and relax by the pool

Dinner: Have dinner and go to bed early for your next day at the park.

woman at arches national park

Our Trip in May

We visited Arches National Park during the month of May. This was definitely a peak season for visiting the park. In May 2022, Arches National Park saw over 172,000 visits.

If you’re curious, you can view a database of monthly visitors for Arches National Park for various months and years. It can be helpful to forecast busy times of the year to visit.

May can be an especially busy month to visit Arches National Park during Memorial Day Weekend. We happened to be at Arches National Park during Memorial Day Weekend, and it was definitely packed. We woke up at 4am one day just to get a head start at the park.

For weather, the average high temperature during the month of May is 79 degrees with an average low of 49 degrees. On average, it rains 3 days in the month of May. Of course, always look at the weather forecast to help you prepare for your trip. When we visited Arches National Park in May, it was over 90 degrees during the day!


Arches National Park is located in Utah near the city of Moab. From Moab, it’s about a 5-mile drive to Arches National Park.

The entrance to Arches National Park is located on Arches National Park Road, which is located off of Highway 191.

If you’re flying into Utah, you have several options. Many people fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which is about 237 miles away from Moab. There are some smaller airports that are closer, which include Canyonlands Field (CNY) and Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT).

We stayed at the Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn in Moab. It was a convenient location to both Canyonlands National Park as well as Arches National Park. We appreciated staying in town because we could easily walk to restaurants for lunch and dinner. We really liked their pool, and we’d definitely recommend staying at that hotel to others!

Nearby Attractions

While you’re in the Moab area, there’s lots of great places to see in addition to Arches National Park.

Dead Horse State Park

 Dead Horse Point State Park is a great place to catch the sunset. The view from the state park is one of the most photographed vistas in the world! From this park you have an excellent view of the Colorado River and much of Canyonlands National Park. 

Canyonlands National Park

And if you’re visiting Arches National Park, don’t forget to spend at least one day at Canyonlands National Park! Canyonlands is located only 26 miles away from Arches, so it’s really easy to see them both while staying in Moab. 

Moab Giants

If you have kids, you might also enjoy visiting Moab Giants, which is a dinosaur-themed museum. It’s only 25 minutes away after exiting the Island in the Sky Visitor Center. (Right where you connect with Highway 191). There is a 5D Prehistoric Virtual Aquarium (which was a unique experience!), a dinosaurs trail with over 100 life-size dinosaurs, a 3D theater, a museum, a playground, and dig-it-out sites for young children to find “fossils” in the sand. We took our toddler there, and she had a blast!


During our visit to Moab, we spent one day at Canyonlands National Park and two days at Arches National Park. That itinerary felt perfect for us to see the main things we wanted to see. Of course, you could spend weeks at either park and barely scratch the surface! If you have more time, it’s always fun to go off the beaten path and see what you discover! We hope that this post on Arches National Park inspired you to make a visit to this awe-worthy park!

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Hi, I’m Kelly!

After studying abroad in Spain, I became passionate about international travel. Since then, I’ve traveled to 6 continents and 36 states within the United States. When I’m not travel blogging, you can find me hiking, reading books in Spanish, or playing cribbage. I hope my blog inspires you to see the world!