Arches National Park in Moab, Utah is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, as well as a variety of unique geological formations and stunning views. If you only have one day to explore this amazing park, don’t worry!
With a little bit of planning, you can see a lot of what the park has to offer. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to make the most of your time at Arches National Park with a one-day itinerary that hits all the must-see sights. From the iconic Delicate Arch to the lesser known but equally impressive Park Avenue, you’ll get a taste of everything this incredible park has to offer.
About Arches National Park
Arches National Park is part of the Mighty Five national parks in Utah, receiving 1.5 million visitors per year wanting to visit the famous arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch, which is one of the most photographed spots in the park.
When you first lay eyes on these arches, you’ll be in awe of how nature has sculpted such beautiful and unique formations. The arches, fins, and spires are made of Entrada Sandstone and have been formed over millions of years through erosion and weathering.
One of the best ways to experience the park is by hitting the trails. The park offers a variety of hiking options, from easy strolls to challenging treks.
You can either take a ranger-led tour to learn more about the park’s geology and history, book a guided tour or, if you’re feeling adventurous, plan your own itinerary for your hikes around the park.
The park also offers a variety of activities, from camping to wildlife watching and photography. The park is home to desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, and mountain lions, and you might be lucky to spot some of them during your visit.
Entry To Arches National Park
Entry to the park is $30 per car, but I recommend purchasing the America The Beautiful national parks pass which costs $80. The pass is valid for 1 year at 180 national parks, making it much more economical than purchasing upon entry.
When it comes to actual arrival times at the park, the earlier you arrive the better to avoid queues into the park. If you arrive later in the morning, such as 8 am you will likely have to queue for around 30 minutes to enter the park. Factor this into your itinerary planning.
Note at certain times of the year, Arches operates timed entry to the park to reduce overcrowding, and you will need to book your entry time in advance. You can find up-to-date information on timed entry on the National Park Service website here.
1 Day Itinerary For Arches National Park
With so much to do in Arches National Park, there really is no wrong way to organize and plan your one-day itinerary, and you will likely find many different itineraries online. This is the itinerary we followed, but I have noted some suggestions to adjust or add to the itinerary.
To summarize this itinerary:
- Hike to Delicate Arch (3 mile loop)
- Drive to Fiery Furnace Overlook viewpoint
- Hike to Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch
- Double Arch (short walk)
- North and South Window (short walk, and seen together with Double Arch)
- Balanced Rock (short walk)
- Courthouse Towers Viewpoint (either a short walk, or hike Park Avenue which goes between Courthouse Towers Viewpoint and Park Avenue Viewpoint)
- Park Avenue Viewpoint
Getting up before sunrise is definitely worth it when visiting any national park, and Arches is no exception. If you can drag yourself out of bed, you will be rewarded with candy pastel skies and the best views of Arches.
I recommend starting your day with the 3 mile loop hike to Delicate Arch. This arch is perhaps the most famous and photographed, it stands at an imposing 46 feet overlooking a deep valley.
The best time to view the arch is at sunset because earlier in the day the sun is behind the arch, but for this reason it can be very busy at sunset, so sunrise or early morning is a great time to visit when it’s a little less crowded.
Fiery Furnace Overlook
After Delicate Arch, drive on to Fiery Furnace overlook. There is a parking area here, and it’s a very short walk to the overlook where you can view the red rocks of Fiery Furnace.
You can also hike here if you have a permit or book a guided hike with a ranger, but as part of a 1 day itinerary, a quick stop here is sufficient. In this same area you can go to Salt Valley Overlook.
Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch
After Fiery Furnace you will head towards your next loop hike that will take you to Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch, and Tapestry Arch.
You can visit Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch together, but I recommend continuing on and doing Tapestry Arch as well which will loop back down to Sand Dune Arch.
The hike altogether is about 3 miles with a good amount of it unshaded, so make sure to bring plenty of water with you.
Start at Sand Dune Arch, which is just a couple of minutes from the parking area, then walk on to Broken Arch. Here you will scramble through the arch to continue on the trail to Tapestry Arch.
Once you pass Tapestry Arch, you will double back and continue on the loop which passes through the Devil’s Garden Campground.
After this hike you will be in the Devil’s Garden Area, which is one of the best hikes in the park. However, it is a long and difficult hike at 7.8 miles. For this reason, I would recommend doing this hike if you have more than one day.
If you want more hiking before heading back on the loop to your car, you can head up to see Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch, which are easy to access before heading back South.
Double Arch, the Windows, and Turret Arch
Next up, I recommend going to Double Arch, the Windows, and Turret Arch, which are located walking distance of one another.
To get here, you will pass Balanced Rock, so you can either visit that before or after Double Arch and The Windows. Balanced Rock is also a great sunset spot in the park.
Double Arch is one of the most popular features of Arches National Park, and for good reason. As the name suggests, the arch is made up of two large, parallel arches that stand side by side that you can view from the trail or scramble up on the rocks to get under the arches.
The Windows section is also a popular spot in the park. It’s a short hike from the parking lot and includes three arches, North and South Windows, and Turret Arch.
The North and South Windows are the largest of the three arches and stand side by side, creating a beautiful frame for the surrounding landscape. The Turret Arch is located just a short distance away and is a smaller arch that looks like a tower or a turret.
Visitors can walk up to the base of the arches and even walk under the arches. The Windows section is also a great spot for photography, especially at sunset or sunrise. The hike to the arches is an easy, flat, and accessible trail
Courthouse Towers Viewpoint and Park Avenue
Finally, the last stop on your itinerary is the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint and Park Avenue, which are close the entrance / exit. Both spots can be viewed from easy to reach lookouts, or you can hike an easy trail between the two along Park Avenue.
You can enjoy panoramic views of the park’s famous Courthouse Towers, a group of towering red rock spires that rise up from the desert floor.
The viewpoint is located along the Park Avenue Trail and can be reached by a short, easy hike. The trail is relatively flat and accessible, making it suitable for visitors of all ages and abilities.
Park Avenue is another popular trail in Arches National Park. It is a 2-mile round trip hike and is a great option for visitors who want to experience the park’s stunning geologic features. The trail takes visitors through a narrow, winding canyon that is lined with towering red rock cliffs.
The canyon opens up to a wide valley, which is referred to as Park Avenue, and is surrounded by towering red rock spires, fins, and walls. This trail is relatively easy and provides a great introduction to the park’s geology, it also offers a variety of viewpoints for photography.
As I mentioned, you can’t really go wrong with the order you do things in the park. I personally prefer to front load longer or more difficult hikes and my must dos early on in the day, which is why I started with those and ended at easy lookout spots.
But you could switch around the itinerary, see the Courthouse and Park Avenue when you first enter the park, and end at Delicate Arch for sunset.
How To Get To Moab and Arches National Park
Salt Lake City, Utah serves as a hub for several national parks. From Salt Lake City you can visit amazing places like Bonneville Salt Flats which lie west of the city, you can go north to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, or head south to the Mighty 5 National Parks which include Arches and Canyonlands.
Salt Lake City airport serves many domestic US and international locations, so it is a great place to fly into, and then travel down to Moab. The journey from the city to Moab is an easy and very pretty drive of around 3.5 hours.
Where To Stay In Moab
We were travelling in Moab with a campervan from Kelville Vans that we had picked up in Salt Lake City and drove to Moab, so we wanted to park in an RV campsite.
After some research, we chose Sun Valley RV park, which is situated about 10 minutes from the entrance to Arches National Park.
This campsite offers full hook up RV sites where you can hook up for electricity, water and empty your grey water. They also have small cabins to rent if you are travelling by car and camping spots to pitch your tent.
If you are planning ahead there are some other great options to choose from.
One of my favorite glamping options in the US is Under Canvas. Under Canvas have glamping sites around the US close to national parks, and the Moab Under Canvas is situated right next door to Sun Valley sharing the same stunning sunrise views.
To fully experience the national park, you can book a camping / rv spot inside Arches, but these spots book out several months in advance so you will need to plan ahead.
Inside the park you can camp at Devils Garden Campground, which is the only campsite in the park and is open for booking bewteen March 1 and October 31.
Getting Around Arches National Park
We were in a Winnebago Solis camper, which is a relatively large camper. Overall, we found it easy to park the van, but parking spaces that are large enough for these vehicles can be limited especially at popular spots, such as Delicate Arch at sunrise. Plus, the parking lots themselves are not very large, which makes spots limited.
This is definitely something to consider, and make sure you arrive early to any sunrise or sunset spots so you don’t get disappointed if you cannot find parking.
What Time of Year To Visit
The best time of year to visit Arches National Park is typically May through October.
We visited Arches National Park at the beginning of October, and it was still very hot, reaching 85 degrees in the middle of the day.
I would definitely recommend visiting in the shoulder months such as October, you should still get very good weather, there will be less visitors, and timed entry has ended.
Arches National Park Tours
It is very easy to self-drive around Arches National Park, but if you prefer there are also lots of guided 1 day and multi-day tours that you can join which will ensure you hit all the top spots and learn more about the area you are exploring.
These are some highly rated guided tours and experiences in the National Park:
- Arches Backcountry Helicopter Flight
- Canyonlands and Arches National Park: Scenic Airplane Flight
- Colorado River 3.5-Hour Stand-Up Paddleboard Tour
- Arches National Park: Half-Day Private Hiking Tour
- Moab: Mountain Bike Half Day Tour
- From Salt Lake City: Private Tour of Arches National Park
- Delicate Arch: Arches National Park Private Hiking Tour
- From Moab: Full-Day Canyonlands and Arches 4×4 Driving Tour
What To Pack For Arches National Park
Arches National Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. While one day may not seem like enough time to fully experience all the park has to offer, a little planning and an early start can allow you to see some of the park’s most iconic and breathtaking features.
From the iconic Delicate Arch to the Park Avenue Trail, Sand Dune Arch and the Balanced Rock, you’ll be able to experience the beauty and wonder of this unique park. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch and bring plenty of water and remember to leave no trace!
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