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10 Best Things To Do In Arches National Park

Check out our 10 Best Things To Do In Arches National Park list to prepare for an unforgettable adventure. Arches National Park, located in southeastern Utah near Moab, offers more than 2000 natural sandstone arches and unique geological formations. This article shares all the things to know before you go to Arches: where to stay, how to get there, and how to prepare for the visit. We show you the best hikes in Arches National Park and the best photo spots & photo opportunities. And, what’s important, we tell you everything you need to know about the timed-entry reservation system at Arches National Park in 2024.

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Delicate Arch in Arches National Park during sunset: orange rock formation and stunning arch with black raven flying over it.
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Pilot Timed Entry Reservation System at Arches National Park in 2024

Suppose you plan a trip to Arches National Park. In that case, the most important thing is to know that from April 1 to October 31, 2024, there is a new reservation system – a timed-entry reservation system at Arches National Park 2024. So you must plan your trip to Arches National Park ahead.

How to Make a Reservation at Arches National Park in 2024?

Visitors must book reservations on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov beginning January 2024. On Recreation.gov, type Arches National Park Timed Entry or Arches National Park in the search engine and follow the booking instructions.

The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks. On Jan. 10, reservations will open for April 1 through April 30. On February 1, reservations for the month of May and any remaining reservations not booked for April will be released. The other months will follow the following pattern:

  • Reservations for April (April 3-30) will be available beginning January 3.
  • For May (May 1-31) are possible from 1 February.
  • June (June 1-30) Reservations are possible from March 1.
  • For July (July 1-31) are possible from 1 April.
  • Reservations for August (August 1-31) possible from 1 May.
  • For September (September 1-30) are possible from June 1.
  • October (October 1-3) Reservations are possible from 1 July.

A limited number of tickets will be available one day prior to entry at 6 pm MDT through Recreation.gov. These are expected to sell out quickly, and we encourage visitors to plan ahead. Tickets will be required daily from 7 am to 4 pm, April 1 through October 31, 2024.

one of the best things to do in arches national park is hiking and admiring huge arches above head.

Timed Entry Ticket

After you book a reservation, you will receive a Timed Entry Ticket. This ticket is required to enter the park daily from 6 am to 5 pm and allows you to enter the park during a specific one-hour time window. After entry, you can stay in the park for as long as you like for the rest of the day. Reservation holders can leave and re-enter the park on the same day with a correctly validated ticket.

Additional Reservations

According to the NPS official website, a limited number of additional reservations are available through Recreation.gov beginning at 6 p.m. MDT the day before admission for those who did not make reservations early. Reservations must be purchased online or by calling Recreation.gov before entering the park and are unavailable at the park entrance.

Temporary admission reservations are not required for those with camping, backcountry, Fiery Furnace, special use permits, concession agreements, or commercial use permits. All reservations are expected to sell out quickly, and visitors are encouraged to plan ahead.

Our Experiences

My partner Chris and I have fondly fonded Arches National Park and have visited it many times. The park is known for its beautiful rock arches, a photographer’s dream come true. It is our shared passion for photography that drew us to this park.

During our travels around Utah, we have had the opportunity to visit this park at different times of the day and night, as well as during other seasons. This allowed us to capture the park’s beauty and make beautiful memories. We have walked its trails and slept under its stars, and now we are excited to share our observations and tips with our readers.

Arches National Park Fun Facts

Arches National Park is a paradise for photographers, nature lovers, hikers, and families because of the short hiking trails. It is a landscape of contrasting colors and world-unique rock forms and textures. Natural stone arches, soaring pinnacles, giant balanced rocks, colossal sandstone fins, and other geological formations are breathtaking.

Over 11 films have used a scene from Arches National Park. From westerns such as Rio Conchos to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Thelma and Louise. So, if you plan Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip, Arches is a must-see!

So, below on the infographic, we prepared for you some facts about this red-rock wonderland.

Arches National Park Fun Facts on infographic.

Arches National Park Weather

Southeastern Utah is part of the Colorado Plateau, a high desert region that experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. You need to be prepared for temperature differences.

Elevations at Arches range from 3,960 feet along the Colorado River to 5,653-foot Elephant Butte, the park’s high point. Below, we’ve compiled charts with Arches National Park’s lowest and highest average temperatures. Moreover, we have also prepared an average number of precipitation for each month.

Best Time To Visit Arches National Park

So, what is the best time to visit Arches National Park? The best time to visit Arches National Park is from April through May and from September through October when daytime temperatures average about 60º to 80º degrees, and lows average 30º to 50º F.

However, we also were in November, and the weather was pleasant for hikes. So, spring and fall are the best. Check our hiking packing list before you go to Arches National Park; it will help you get ready for your adventure.

  • Spring brings warm, pleasant days and cool evenings.
  • Fall brings amazing deep, rich colors, not just to the trees but also to the red rocks.
  • In the summer, temperatures can exceed even 100º degrees, making your trip a little bit challenging. So if you plan to go during summer, be prepared for the heat. But the summer monsoon season brings storms, which also cause flash floods.
  • Winters are cold, with highs averaging 30º to 50º F and lows averaging 0º to 20º F. However, during the winter, the Arches are also beautiful; there are fewer people, and you can enjoy the place.

How To Get To Arches National Park?

Most important is knowing that no public transportation is inside Arches National Park.
So, if you plan an Arches NP trip in your own car, check our road trip packing list essentials.

Moab, Utah, is the nearest town (5 miles to the Park). It’s also one of the best Utah adventure towns. The Park is accessible by air or car from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Grand Junction.

From Las Vegas, we’ve prepared a road trip loop of all 5 Utah national parks, so if you plan to visit parks other than Arches, check out this post.
Food and water are unavailable within the Park, so you must be prepared for your trip.

orange rock formation of Double O arch in Arches National Park.

Getting to Arches National Park by Car

The entrance to Arches National Park is north of the town of Moab, Utah. So, from Moab, drive north on US 191 for five miles. If you’re planning on traveling on your own, it’s worth buying and downloading the Arches National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour. The price is affordable, and you will not miss any Arches National Park highlights!

From Interstate 70 (Crescent Junction), drive south on US 191 for 22 miles.
It is 230 miles to Arches National Park from Salt Lake City, UT. By car, you should take I-15 S toward Las Vegas. Then, merge onto US-6 E (exit 258) toward US-89 E Price/Manti. Next, you should take US-191 S (exit 182) toward Crescent Junction/Moab. Finally, turn right onto US-191 S to Moab.

It is a 453-mile drive to Arches from Las Vegas, NV. From Las Vegas, you should take I-15 N toward Salt Lake City. Then, take exit 132 for I-70 E. Next, take exit 182 (Crescent Junction) for US-191 S and follow signs to Arches National Park.

Arches National Park Entrance Fee

Private vehicle is $35 per week. But if you plan to visit more than three parks, the best idea is to buy America the Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass, for the reason that it costs only $79.99 per year, and you have access to more than 2,000 National Parks and federal recreation sites in the United States. The pass is valid for 1 year from the month of purchase.

Arches National Park Lodging

Where to stay in Arches National Park? You have many options. Are you looking for RV camping, tent space, or a comfortable hotel? Below are some of our suggestions that receive high reviews from guests. We stayed in some of them too, during our several visits to the Moab area so that we can recommend them.

Hotels Near Arches National Park

Best Moab Hotels

Moab, Utah, is home to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Parks, and the Colorado River, so it’s the best idea to stay in this small, charming town surrounded by stunning red rocks.

However, it is one of the most popular destinations in the American Southwest, so book your accommodation in advance. After visiting parks, you will find lots of opportunities to relax in this photogenic town full of great restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and art galleries.

Below, we suggest accommodations in Moab with the highest customer reviews.

Budget Hotels in Moab

Bowen Motel is located a 5-minute drive from Arches National Park. It features an outdoor swimming pool and free WiFi access. The air-conditioned rooms have satellite TV and a seating area.
Inca Inn Motel is located in the top-rated area in Moab and has an excellent location score of 8.8. It offers free Wi-Fi, a heated outdoor pool, and guest rooms with cable TV, a fridge, and a microwave.

Mid-Range Hotels in Moab

The Gonzo Inn is located in Moab and provides free WiFi, express check-in and check-out, and concierge services. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with an outdoor pool.

Luxury Hotels in Moab

Hoodoo Moab is a luxury hotel in the heart of Moab. It offers a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, and fitness center. The rooms are modern and well-equipped. It offers a variety of breakfasts as continental, full English, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and American.

orange rock formations in Arches National Park.

Other Places to Stay Near Arches National Park

If you are looking for accommodation outside of the city because you are looking for something unique, or originally furnished, we recommend several places a few miles away from Moab, but still close enough to explore the Utah National Parks.

Under Canvas Moab ($$$) is a unique place. It is not a standard hotel, it is a luxury camp. On 40 acres of land, tents offer spectacular views of Arches National Park. Selected tents feature private bathrooms. BBQ facilities are available on site. So, it is a great choice if you are looking for romantic lodging.

Arches National Park Camping

Devils Garden Campground

Devils Garden Campground is the only camping site at Arches National Park operated by NPS. So, it’s worth booking in advance, especially during peak season (March-May & September-Oct). You can reserve standard campsites up to 6 months in advance for stays from March 1 to October 31. Between November 1 and February 28, all sites are first-come, first-served.

The park does not have dump stations or electric, water, or sewer hook-ups for RVs. There are also no showers. So, if you need electricity or other facilities, check our campground suggestions below.

Commercial Campgrounds in the Moab area

If you need facilities, book a campground in the Moab area. They offer many conveniences such as showers, running water, RV hook-ups, toilets, Wi-Fi, dump stations, and more. It’s good to reserve in advance because this area of Utah is trendy.

Lots of tourists visit Arches National Park and neighboring Canyonlands National Park and stay in private campgrounds. So, below are some of our campground suggestions.

  • Spanish Trail RV Park has great reviews from guests. It offers 81 sites with WiFi and other facilities. Tents are not allowed. After exploring Arches National Park, you can relax in the pool.
  • O.K. RV Park & Canyonlands Stables is just outside Moab but still close enough to enjoy the restaurants and shops in the town. It offers 70 sites with WiFi.
  • Moab Valley RV Resort offers 69 sites with all amenities and WiFi. It has a dedicated tenting area, too. There is a heated pool and playground. You can also rent a cabin.
  • Archview RV Park & Campground offers 77 sites with WiFi and full hookups. Is also tent camping allowed. It offers restrooms and showers, laundry, and a swimming pool.

BLM Campgrounds in Moab area

There are also the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) campgrounds on the public lands surrounding Moab, but they are popular and fill quickly every day. There are no reservations. Campsites are available on a first-come-first-served basis only.

Many BLM campsites are suitable for RVs, although hookups are not available. You will find a full list of BLM in the Arches National Park area on discovermoab.com.

Arches Scenic Drive thve valley view from the arch.

Arches National Park Map

10 Best Things To Do in Arches National Park

Take an Arches Scenic Drive

Taking an Arches Scenic Drive is one of the best things to do in Arches National Park. The fastest option for visiting the Park is driving the 36-mile (58-km) round trip Arches Scenic Drive. A paved scenic drive will take you to many of the major viewpoints within the park, such as the La Sal Mountains viewpoint and more.

If you have time, get out of the car and explore the arches up close. In the next chapter, we will give you detailed info about the best hikes in Arches National Park. For the Arches, Scenic Drive is great to download this Arches National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour. It’s a great, cheap, and useful app.

Arches Scenic Drive: monumet rocks along the route.

Take a Tour

A great idea to consider is an organized trip. With a guide, you will learn the secrets of Arches National Park, learn the most interesting facts about its rock formations, and discover the hidden side of the Arches.

During this 4×4 Day Trip, you will avoid the crowds at Arches National Park with this 4×4 adventure. The guide takes you off-road to explore the park’s rocky terrain from areas where only rugged vehicles can go.

Rent a Bike

If you like biking, Arches National Park is a great park to explore by bike, especially if you come early in the morning when there is less traffic. You can rent a bike in Moab.

Arches Scenic Drive

Go For a Hike in Arches National Park

One of the best things to do in Arches National Park is hiking. Arches National Park has many easy trails providing opportunities for kids and adults to get out of the car and explore the arches up close. Hikers can choose from various hiking trails, from short twenty-minute walks to moderate hikes. So, do not hesitate, and go for a hike.

Our favorite hikes in Arches National Park are Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Park Avenue, Sand Dune Arch, and The Window.

In the next chapter, we share detailed information about each of the best hikes in Arches National Park. This will help you choose the right path depending on your time and hiking skills. Before you go for a hike, check out our hiking tips. Furthermore, check out our list of essential things that you should take on a day hike.

7 Best Hikes in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Difficulty: difficult
Distance: 3 mi / 4.8 km round trip
Time: 2.5-3 hrs
Elevation change: 480 feet/ 146 m

PROTIP: There is no shade on this trail, so take sun protection, like a hat and bring plenty of water and snacks. And most importantly, if you are going for a sunset, take a headlamp for your safe return. It becomes dark immediately after sunset!

One of the best things to do in Arches National Park is hiking to Delicate Arch. The most famous natural stone arch in the world is probably the Delicate Arch. Known from photos, this arch has become iconic due to its freestanding shape.

Delicate Arch is our favorite sunset spot in Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is an iconic symbol for Utah. This moderate/difficult 3 miles round trip hike (4,8 km) makes a steady climb gaining 480 feet in elevation from the parking lot. So, watch your step on this hike.

The last part of the hike follows along a narrow ledge that descends into a huge natural Slickrock bowl. In this vast sandstone depression, Delicate Arch stands majestically. Orange rocks glisten in the rays of the setting sun. Check how to enjoy Delicate Arche Hike.

PHOTO TIP: if you are going for the sunset, take a tripod for this hike. A telephoto lens 80-400/100-400 mm or a standard zoom 24-70 mm lens for Canon or Nikon will be the best to zoom the Delicate Arch and mountains far away on the horizon. Thus you will also avoid photographing people who are around you.

Delicate Arch after sunset with the mountains in the backdrop.

Landscape Arch at Devils Garden

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 1.6 mi / 2.6 km round trip
Time: 50 min
Elevation change:

Landscape Arch is possibly even more delicate than Delicate Arch. It looks like a sandstone spiderweb. Landscape Arch has the longest span of any arch in North America, 306 feet (93.3 meters), and is the fourth-longest in the world.

PROTIP: After Landscape Arch, the Devil’s Garden trail becomes moderate/difficult, with rock scrambling and exposure to heights, so watch your step.

Landscape Arch formation.

Double O Arch at Devils Garden

Difficulty: difficult
Distance: 4.5 mi / 6.8 km round trip
Time: 2.5 – 3 hrs
Elevation change:

Beyond Landscape Arch, the trail is more challenging as it climbs over sandstone slabs. The footing is rocky, so watch your step. There are narrow ledges with exposure to heights.

orange Double O Arch at Devils Garden during sunset.

Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 0.3 mi / 0.5 km round trip
Time: 20 min
Elevation change: 0

We love these kissing rocks; they are so romantic. They are hidden in a small slot canyon. It’s an easy hike with impressive views. Sand over your foot is warm, and rocks are warm too. You can sit and admire these stones when the sunlight up the orange-colored cliff.

PHOTO TIP: The rocks are hidden in a canyon, so the best light for photos you have is in the early afternoon when the most sunlight falls into the gorge. It’s also a good idea to take a tripod with you.

Sand Dune Arch orange rock formation.

Balanced Rock in Arches National Park

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 0.3 mi / 0.5 km round trip
Time: 20 min
Elevation change:

The enormous sandstone boulder atop Balanced Rock weighs approximately 3,5 tons. The upper portion of the rock is as large as three school buses! It is a loop trail at the base of a fragile, picturesque rock formation. The beginning of the trail is paved and accessible to wheelchairs. The paved path ends at a viewpoint where you can see The Windows and the distant La Sal Mountains.

PROTIP: don’t get too close to the rock. Watch out for rock fragments.

Balanced Rock in Arches National Park

The Windows & Turret Arch

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 1 mi / 1.6 km round trip
Time: 45 min
Elevation change:

The Windows & Turret Arch is an easy gentle climb up a gravel trail, and stone steps lead to the massive North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch. You can return to the parking lot via the same path, or take the slightly longer primitive trail around the Windows by starting at the South Window viewpoint.

The Windows

Double Arch

Difficulty: easy
Distance: 0.5 mi / 0.8 km round trip
Time: 20 min
Elevation change:

It is easy, relatively flat, and gravel-surfaced. It leads to the base of two large arch spans, which are joined at one end. The trail may be accessible to wheelchairs with assistance. This area is featured in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. 

TRIP TIP: If you are planning a Utah road trip, check our detailed Utah Photography & Travel Guide, where you can find the most exciting & must-see places in Utah and useful hints for trip planning.

Tips for Photographing Arches National Park

As you know, light is important in photography. So, below are the best times of day to photograph some of the major features of Arches National Park. One of the best things to do in Arches National Park is visited it during sunrise and stay at the least for the sunset.

Sunrise & Early Morning in Arches National Park

  • Landscape Arch
  • Double O Arch
  • Double Arch
  • The Three Gossips
  • The Great Wall
  • Turret Arch
  • Moab Fault
Turret Arch

Late Afternoon & Sunset in Arches National Park

  • Delicate Arch 
  • The Windows
  • Park Avenue
  • Balanced Rock
  • Tower Arch
  • Fiery Furnace
  • Courthouse Towers
  • The Garden of Eden

Gear for Photographing Arches National Park

The appropriate gear would include a wide-angle zoom for panorama shots of the Arches National Park and a standard zoom in the 24-70mm range. In our opinion, the telephoto lens might also be useful for photographing Arches National Park. You can zoom details of rocks if you wish.

So it’s worth taking a minimum of two lenses. One is a wide-angle, and the second is a standard zoom lens. A polarizing filter will help saturate the beautiful reds and oranges on the rock formations.

Arches National Park Photography Tips

Photography Along Arches Scenic Drive

For sure, photography along Arches Scenic Drive will take you a minimum of 4 – 5 hours. The viewpoint of Park Avenue is the first stop as you travel along the scenic drive. Moreover, the best time to photograph Park Avenue is middle to late afternoon, when the valley is in shadow, and the sun lights up the east wall. Photographing natural arches and rock formations is one of the best things to do in Arches National Park.

Stop at La Sal Mountain Viewpoint Photo Spots in the morning

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint Photo Spots is the best for sunrise and early morning. From this viewpoint, you can enjoy a 360-degree view. You will see the La Sal Mountains to the east and unique formations like Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, and the Courthouse Towers. On the horizon, you will see Balanced Rock and the Windows Section. You can use a telephoto lens to zoom it.

Delicate Arch for sunset

Photographing Delicate Arch is an amazing experience. Delicate Arch is one of the best sunset spots in Arches National Park.  But it is so famous that it might be crowded. So, start your hike to Delicate Arch at least two hours before sunset to get your spot. Don’t forget the tripod and headlamp. Walk around the bowl to find a unique composition and use different lenses and filters.

best things to do in arches national park

Landscape Arch for sunrise

No doubt, Landscape Arch Photo Spots is the best at sunrise and early morning. Use a wide lens to make this Arch.

Devil’s Garden Trail

Photo Spots Along the Devil’s Garden Trail are our favorites. The best time to photograph the Devil’s Garden area arches is sunrise and early morning. To take pictures of Double O Arch, pass through the lower opening of the arch and climb the slick rock on the other side to photograph the arch with the sky as the background.

The Windows in Arches National Park

Photograph The Windows early in the morning. The great idea is to have a person in the background to show the size of the rocks.

The Windows in Arches National Park


  1. Thanks for taking me back to our fall visit to Arches.  It was the first of the Utah parks we visited.  It was fun to see the sites where movies have been filmed.  We did enjoy taking the scenic drive around.  But got out regularly  to see the arches up close.  Next time we will plan more time in Moab so we can do some of the longer hikes.  Thanks for sharing some good photography tips for our next visit.

  2. The first look of Arches National Park has made me fall in love. It seems such an exciting destination. The red natural sandstones look so special. Would love to visit sometime.

  3. These are interesting things to know about Arches National Park. We haven’t had the chance to visit here yet but it would be nice to see the sandstone arches up close. 

    Thank you for sharing these tips. Will try to visit around September as you recommended. 

  4. Wow! SO many amazing tips and tricks in here – I especially like that you told us when we could find the best natural light for those must have Instagram photos. I love that all of the different areas and described in detail and given a ranking such as easy or difficult. I’m not a very keen hiker, so it’s nice to know which parts would be doable for me and which would not. Nice call warning everyone about flash flooding! I think I would like winter best. Even though it’s cold – it’s less crowded!

  5. Arches National Park would be my perfect playground – love nature, trekking, and photography! I can’t believe it had 17 million visitors in 2018 – that’s huge! Think I’d avoid the summer period to be able to enjoy the great outdoors more and hire the bike, good to know there is no food & water in the Park!

  6. Love love love the Arches! We went couple years ago and it was amazing! I hope I can go back someday to explore more. My favorites were the Delicate Arch and the Balanced Rock. This was a great guide for people visiting the park with so much valuable information. I will bookmark it for my future travels. 

  7. This is such a useful travel guide with relevant information for anyone looking to visit the Arches, National Park. I have been to Arizona and almost made it here two years back but had to change my plans at the last moment. I am bookmarking this post for my next trip. I would definitely not miss the photo spots near the Devil’s Garden Trail 

  8. Wow…what lovely photographs of landscapes. Looks truly mesmerising.Nature at its best for sure! Have never been to the US, so these pics definitely tempt me to embark on my journey to Utah soon. Glad that you have packed in all the info one requires to explore this destination. Wonderful post!

  9. I have seen lots of photos of this beautiful Arches National Park located in Utah, and always want to go to this place for that beautiful naturally carved arches. It must be wonderful to spot these 2000 natural sandstone arches and unique geological formations which really looks interesting and like a nature’s art. Good to know that this park contains the highest density of natural arches in the world.  These unique shapes shapes and rusty red colors of the rocks is truly a fantastic and photogenic place

  10. I’ve been here a couple of times and I enjoyed both visit a lot. But I still didn’t get to visit the Double O. Maybe the third time. And I will follow your photography trips to make better pictures. 

  11. Arches National Park is such a beautiful park! I guess I never realized there were more than 2000 arches. I knew there were a lot, but never knew the number. Great tips for when/where to get some great photos too! 

  12. Arches national Park is in my bucket list for sure. It’s stunning rock formations are mesmerizing in different forms as arches, colossal fins, balanced rocks. And it’s great that there are both luxury and budget hotels for travelers visiting the area. Its surreal landscape provides photographic opportunities.

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