With over 2,000 natural arches in this national park (including the famous Delicate arch!) Arches National Park is an essential part of all great American Southwest road trips.
Located just outside of the adventure hub of Moab, Utah, this park has something to offer everyone!
One thing Berty and I loved about Arches National Park is that it can be easily catered to any visitor’s experience. One can easily take a half-day to see the many sights along the highway or just as easily spend a week hiking every trail in the park too.
In this post, we’re here to share how you can soak in all the magic of the park in ONE DAY – and you don’t necessarily need a ton of time to do so!
How To Spend 24 Hours In Arches National Park
1. Take a sunrise hike to Delicate Arch
The Delicate Arch hike is one of the most popular hikes in Arches National Park, and for good reason. This icon of Utah sits delicately carved atop a large sandstone bowl, and visitors can hike up close and even stand at its base!
While it’s most commonly viewed during sunset, Berty and I actually recommend visiting during sunrise! There are far fewer crowds at this time, and you can experience Delicate Arch in a quieter setting.
Make sure to bring good headlamps, snacks, water, and warm clothes. If you get lost, follow the stone piles (or “cairns” as the rangers call them) to help you find your way.
This hike is considered “difficult” because of the 480 feet elevation gain, as well as the fact that the trail has you scrambling over rock faces and doing a little climbing. But it’s worth it to see the view!
We also recommend climbing up to the Twisted Donut arch to get a view of Delicate Arch during sunrise.
2. Take a History Tour Around the Visitors Center
We stopped at the Visitor’s Center at lunchtime, but we encourage you to make it your first stop at Arches National Park.
Taking a quick tour of the history of the area will give you a deeper appreciation of how these amazing arches, pinnacles, and formations came to be.
You can also ask questions to the Rangers about places to see, hikes to take (read our blog post about hike suggestions here!) and get any permits you may need to explore the park to its full potential.
3. Explore the Windows Area
If you are short on time and can only spend an hour or two in Arches National Park, we recommend coming here. There are several natural features less than a mile from the parking lot, which makes it an easy stop if you have little time to spare.
In this area, you can experience the Turret Arch and the North and South Windows up close! These locations are especially popular for night photography, but many people love to get photos standing under the Turret Arch facing the North Window to get that “arch within an arch” picture.
On the opposite side of the Windows area is the Double Arch. Only a half-mile round trip walk, these beautiful arches were formed when water carved out the top, separating the arches into the two parts they are today.
Climb up in Double Arch to get an incredible view of the Windows area or spend some time exploring the many carved out caves and holes nearby.
Read More: 10 Amazing Hikes In Arches National Park
4. Take a Scenic Drive
Don’t have a whole day to spend in Arches National Park? No problem.
Drive the 43-mile scenic road to the end and back, and you’re sure to get an incredible experience. We even dare you to pull over once or twice.
To make your planning even easier, we’ve combined all our favorite road trip planner tools in this post right here!
Like Roadtrippers says, this drive was meant for “rubbernecking” or just gawking at all the incredible geological wonders along the way. En route, you’ll pass Park Avenue, the Skyline Arch, Balanced Rock, and the Fiery Furnace, to name a few favorites.
Give yourself at least 3 hours to experience it all, and try switching drivers on the way back so they get a chance to have their eyes glued out the window too.
*To avoid spending most of your precious time in the entry line at the park, consider arriving early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid entry lines. The park entrance gets very congested between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm.
5. Stop at Any Pullout That Looks Interesting
There are so many geological features and beautiful landscapes to see on the Arches National Park Scenic drive.
Along the 43-mile scenic road, there are too many pullouts to count! Most allow you to park, get out snap a picture, and be on your way.
This is a great option if you have little time to spare because you can see a lot of the park without having to take a strenuous hike or be out in the elements too long. You can discover all the pullouts on the NPS’s official park map.
Scenic pullouts for amazing views and micro-hikes:
- Skyline Arch
- Salt Valley Overlook (pictures below)
- Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
- Courthouse Towers Viewpoint
6. Climb up The Double Arch
You can experience this spectacular arch with minimal effort!
At only a half-mile round-trip journey, it’s easy to park and make the quick walk to the base of the arches. On the short trail, you will pass a set of rocks that are commonly referred to as the “parade of elephants”.
They are called this because this set of rocks in a row looks like elephants (with trunks and all) marching towards the Double Arch!
Read More: Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List
7. Wander to Skyline Arch
Arches National Park is full of amazing hikes, and this short .5 mile loop is one of those that you shouldn’t miss.
While more of a “walk” rather than a hike, it still has the power to transport you into a sea of red rock, arid landscape, and stunning scenery.
We liked this hike for its quick access from the main road. To reach this trailhead, park your car just off the side of the road and get walking!
Arches National Park was one of our favorite stops on our trip to all 5 Utah National Parks!
It has something for everyone, whether you have a few hours or a few days! If you want to see more activities to do in this area, we are working hard on creating a road trip route to all the national parks in the state, so stay tuned for more information on that very soon.
What is your favorite part of Arches National Park? Tell us in the comments below!
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