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On our road trip last spring, Steve and I stopped at Arches National Park in Utah. I had never really been big into National Parks, but not because I don’t like being outside or hate nature. I just haven’t spent much time exploring my own country, and even less of that time seeking out National Parks. But after visiting Arches, my thoughts have completely changed, and I’m now obsessed with visiting as many as possible.
Steve and I visited Arches on our Southwest Road trip and originally only planned one day for the park. After getting there around 11 AM, spending a few hours stopping at every pull-off along the road, walking around the rock formations, taking hundreds of photos, and generally in awe of our surroundings, we knew we needed to spend more time in the park.
That first day we were not dressed properly. We always seem to get into situations where we’re wearing the wrong shoes or just didn’t look into the weather before venturing out. And while we were fine walking around in jeans, we didn’t bring water, and the hike to the Delicate Arch was pretty long. It was that perfect/annoying weather where it’s cool and breezy, but the sun burns you without feeling it. So we were super red that night and needed to lather on the aloe.
Instead of leaving town that night to head south to Arizona, we decided to stay and return to Arches the next day. This time we were a little more prepared. We wore more proper shoes and brought water, which was good because this time we did a 7ish mile hike, and it would have been a long, hot, dry few hours without any. This day was a little chillier, so we were in sweatshirts, but it was still just as sunny and beautiful. Our hike took us around Devil’s Garden, and we saw more arches and mountains.
During our visit, we stayed in Moab, a few miles away from the park. This is pretty much the only place around to stay unless you want to drive for a while. Because of this and the park’s popularity, prices can be pretty steep in town. It also didn’t help that while we were in town, there was an off-road vehicle competition, so rooms were scarce.
Hikes we Did
Day 1: Delicate Arch. That’s the most famous image from Arches by far. We knew we needed to visit as this is the icon of the park. It’s not that difficult of a hike, maybe 3 miles round trip, but parts of it can be a little strenuous, like uphill or on slanted paths. If you do even the smallest amount of physical activity, you’ll be completely fine. This is a very well-traveled route. We didn’t have to look at a map or even look for trail markings. We just needed to follow the people in front of us. At times the trail was pretty crowded, and the Arch itself was surrounded by people. It was really difficult to get photos without anyone in the shot.
Day 2: Devil’s Garden. This was a much longer hike, and it was a little off the beaten path. It’s still “on the path” as it’s well marked out and a designated trail, but we saw so many fewer people than the more popular Delicate Arch hike, and some places were more difficult. Most of the hike was on a “primitive path,” which means it’s not as maintained and could be more difficult. The hike was about 7 miles, and while you could do it pretty quickly, we took most of the day to complete it. We stopped often to take photos or to just admire the scenery.
Now that you know about our little trip, here are some things you need to know for yours.
About the Park
Open all year- 24 hours a day.
Visitor Center: usually 8 AM- 4:30 PM depending on the time of year.
Entrance Fees- Good for 7 Days
Private Vehicle: $25
Per Person: $10
Southwest Utah Parks Annual Pass: $50- 1 year for Arches, Canyonlands, Hovenweep and Natural Bridges
National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Annual Pass: $80/ Free for Military and Dependents
National Parks and Federal Recreational Land Senior Pass- $10 for life- over 62 years of age
January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
April 16-24: National Park Week
August 25-28: National Park Service Birthday
September 24: National Public Lands Day
November 11: Veterans Day
Camping Fees (per night)
Devils Canyon Campground- $25
Canyon Wren Group Site
11-16 campers= $75
17-22 campers= $100
23-28 campers= $125
29-35 campers= $160
Juniper Group Site
11-22 campers= $100
23-33 campers= $150
34-44 campers= $200
45-55 campers= $250
- Ranger-led Tour- $16/adult, $8/child(5-12)
- Private Permit- $6/adult, $3/child, $15 annual permit (this is only for restricted hiking areas)
What to Bring
- Water- bring some in with you, but there are also places to refill, like at the visitor center and certain campgrounds.
- Good walking shoes
- A Hat- I really don’t like hats, but if you’re always getting burnt, it’s probably a good idea.
- Trail Map- While most of the trails are well marked with cairns or easily followed by following the crowd, some places can get a little confusing. Especially on the longer hikes, it’s a good idea to have a map for quick reference to keep you from getting turned around.
Pets- Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails. They may come into the campground and at overlooks and pullouts along the paved roads, but pretty much nowhere else. Dogs can walk on paved roads or parking lots but must be on a leash. They can’t be left unattended.
Don’t grafitti- obviously
Don’t climb on Named arches or rock formations- this is a general rule. If it has a name, you probably shouldn’t even try it. But also, if it looks like you’re going to ruin something natural and cool, don’t do it just for the story.
I took so many photos these days. So here are a few to get you excited about your trip or to prove to you even more, why you need to visit.
I know I haven’t explored Arches nearly as much as is due so tell me what I missed and why I should go back.