Article •  Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park, Utah

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The heat that greeted us, as we cruised into Moab was quite overwhelming. No AC just the wind to cool us. We were told that June is one of the hottest months of the year to visit the Arches National Park, but we insisted on adding a quick stopover regardless and we are so glad we did.Moab is a pretty small town. Now there were only a few stoplights between us and the road leading to the Arches National Park. The entrance is just a little over 5 miles from the city center of Moab, making it an easy hop and a skip away.We entered the gate and passed by massive sandstone silhouettes. The night had slowly taken over and the moon crept up behind the stones. A paved scenic drive takes visitors to all the viewing points and hiking trails. Rocks shot up on either side of us, dimly lit by the moonrise. Passing each and every rock we became more and more excited about what was to come in the morning. As our eyelids drooped shut we pulled off into the parking lot of the Balanced Rock and bid the world goodnight.

1. Landscape Arch(1.9 miles round trip)

As the sun rose, so did we. Believe me, hiking in this heat is only fun when done during the early morning hours. Make sure to bring lots and lots of water. If you think you have enough bring more. Confident and excited we made our way to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead with the mission to admire both the Landscape Arch & Double O Arch. With 306 feet (93.3 meters), the Landscape Arch is the longest arch in North America, unfortunately, the arch is slowly disintegrating from the wind, rain, and snow. At one point a giant piece fell off and almost hit one of the hikers. Thus nowadays you can only admire the arch from a safe distance. If you haven’t gone already, go, before it is gone. The 1.9 miles roundtrip hike is pretty easy and flat.

Double O Arch:(4.1 miles round trip) If you continue the path for another mile you can reach the Double O Arch.  The trail is definitely more difficult as it steeply climbs up and over a massive cluster of round-shaped sandstones. You will have to use your hands and feet as you scramble and climb up. Be prepared to pass by steep drop-offs and keep an eye on the cairns so you don't get lost. Though strenuous, the 4.1 miles roundtrip hike is one of our favorites due to fewer crowds and the mesmerizing views. We even got lucky and spotted two dears along the way. You may not be too impressed once you spot the arch from afar but don’t judge a book by its cover continue along the trail until you reach the bottom of the Double O Arch. Head down and through the bottom arch, and look at this beauty from the other side. We decided to climb even higher, picked a rock, pulled out our sandwiches, and sat there easily for an hour until the comfortable morning warmth turned into the uncomfortably hot midday heat. I would definitely recommend getting to the Devils Garden parking area as early as possible since parking can be a pain, but once you get parked and hike past Landscape Arch, the crowds thin significantly, and the hike becomes quite magical. I wouldn't call it a "must-see" hike if you have limited time at Arches National Park, but if you have a few days, definitely check it out.

Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park

4. Delicate Arch:(3 miles round trip) We spend the rest of the day like lazy lizards in the back of our Van waiting for the burning heat to subside. As the day drew to a close we headed to the trailhead leading to the most iconic arch in all of Moab: The Delicate Arch. This particular free-standing arch has become a widely recognized symbol of the state of Utah. I am sure you have probably already spotted it on the license plate of a resident from Utah or on a postcard at any gift shop in Moab. With a height of 46 feet and a width of 32 feet, it is the true definition of an arch. The hike, while worth it, is not easy as you are walking steadily uphill along a steep slickrock slope with an elevation gain of 480 feet. Sunrise and sunset are the two most popular times to visit Delicate Arch, so expect to share the view with many other tourists. We got here just in time for sunset as the sky turned from light blue to a beautiful array of oranges, reds, yellows, and a hint of purple.  We pulled out our dinner and sat there in awe as the arch disappeared into the darkness. On a clear night, this is the place to be to do some serious stargazing or even night photography. The way back was a little bit harder considering that we only had our flashlights to guide us but it was definitely worth it.

Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park

5. La Sal Mountains Viewpoint: For Nash and me road trips are often not about the destination but the journey. So often our favorite moment captures are from random stops along the way.  So it came to be that some of our favorite images we took during our 2 days in Moab were actually not even from any Arches. La Sal Mountains Viewpoint is one of these worth mentioning stops and perfect for those arriving in the Arches National Park just before sunset with not enough time to actually take on any hikes to an actual Arch.

Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park

6. Park Avenue Trail & Viewpoint(2 miles round trip) The Park Avenue Viewpoint was our last stop on our itinerary.  Located conveniently close to the visitor center this is the perfect viewpoint to admire either when you enter the Arches National Park or before you head out. The trail to the viewpoint is paved and flat, so it is very accessible and easy to reach from the parking lot. The 2-mile heavily trafficked roundtrip trail follows the bottom of a canyon allowing you to walk among massive monoliths surrounded by fiery red towering walls. It's simply marvelous. 

Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park
Top 6 Things To Do In Arches National Park

7. Double Arch(0.5-mile round trip) This incredible formation is located within the Windows area of the Arches National Park, which is popular for its biggest concentration of natural arches. This Arch is not to be confused with the Double O Arch, while they sound alike they look nothing alike and their trail length and difficulty are rather the opposite. The Double Arch requires only a short 0.5mile roundtrip walk from the parking lot. I wouldn't even call this a hike, it's more like a walk. You can even admire the Double Arch from afar, right from below, or from on top. Nash couldn't help but make our way ontop to snatch a glimpse of the other side. The drop is quite steep but the views over the surroundings magnificent. If you are not able to climb in and around the Arch, worry not, the light shining through one of the arches is especially magical during the sunset and such a treat to witness. 

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