Arches National Park
Updated: May 7, 2022
Why it is a great park for families
Great hikes with places for kids to run and climb and play
Beautiful scenery to explore and take photos and videos
Plenty of small hikes to do that are easy on young families to difficult hikes for teenagers
Right next to Moab where there are plenty of hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants
A word of caution
Bring Plenty of water and make sure your kids drink and stay hydrated. We used this Teton pack for mom and dad and our 9 and 11 year old boys. Our daughter used a smaller pack. These were good for water, snacks, cameras, sunscreen, and my daughter's stuffed animals.
Some hikes like Delicate Arch seem right for your family however, it is a strenous hike for elementary age children and dangerous with steep drop offs and near the arch itself is a deep bowl that has previously taken the lives of hikers who left the level viewing area for the closer slanted perches closer to the arch.
Wear sunscreen or bring it along, any time of day. We were surprised how early the blazing sun affected us.
The elevation is 5,000 feet above sea level. for coastal residents take time to acclimate to the altitude before doing and serious hiking.
Recommended reading: We purchased A Complete Guide to the Grand Circle National Parks: Covering Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, and Grand Canyon National Parks as we visited five of these parks in one trip. I also wanted to find short hikes to take due to the heat and our young brood. I found 50 Best Short Hikes in Utah's National Parks to be laid out well and on target for selecting hike we could accomplish.
Arches National Park was named a Monument in 1929 and became a National Park in 1971. With more than 2,000 identified arches in the park there is a lot to see. The park provided to us as a Amusement Park feel as the entrance can be seen from 191 when you drive by and after the visitor center there is a large ascent to drive that for us resembled climbing a roller coaster. From the Visitor's Center this ascent is all that is visible.
Our strategy for attacking Arches was to get up early and beat the crowds and the heat. We woke up at 5am and tried to leave the RV park so that we were in the park by 7am. By 11am we were leaving the park for lunch and the pool. In the afternoon we would head back to the park for car rides and photos of viewpoints. For us this was amazingly successful and I will share some of our experiences below and in more detailed posts of the hikes we accomplished.
These National Parks always impress with how big they are. From the Visitor's Center to the Delicate Arch Trailhead and the Windows Trailhead (different locations) is 23 minutes, and to Devil's Garden trailhead is a 30 minute drive. so when you are planning your trip keep these drive times in mind.
Park Ave: Park Avenue is the first stop in Arches National Park. The trail is 2 miles round trip and considered a Moderate trail by the park service. For its simplicity, beautiful landscape, towering rock, mule deer, and sunrise this was one of our favorite hikes
Delicate Arch Trail: Delicate Arch Trail is more than an Arch viewing. Here you can see Wolfe Ranch from the parking lot and with a short walk see petroglyphs. So, if you are not up for doing the whole trail to Delicate Arch the ranch and petroglyphs are easy must see historical places. the trail is mainly on rock with elevation. There are parts of the trail that have steep drop-offs. This is a must see if you are able, and the Arch is a big payoff. So much so, Utah has Delicate Arch on their license plates.
Devils Garden: We arrived at Devil's Garden Trailhead mid morning after our Delicate Arch Hike. Unfortunately, our brood could only hike to Landscape Arch. From what we saw, there are amazing panoramic views and one day if we go back this trail will be the first we hike. Landscape Arch was beautiful and we expect the other arches and the garden are even better.
Balanced Rock: Balanced Rock can be seen from the road. I struggled as we were traveling to Bryce Canyon too, and I kept wondering if I was seeing Thor's Hammer. If you are in Arches its Balanced Rock. If you are in your car and considering the hike get out and walk around. It is pretty amazing to see the rock from underneath. The trail is 0.3 miles and easy.
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint: Due to Covid-19 there were no hikes in the fiery furnace. However, the viewpoint is amazing. Take the detour, snap a couple of pictures, and enjoy.
The windows and Turret Arch: These arches can be seen for miles on the road. From the parking lot they look like quick walks. The trail is 1.2 miles and has some elevation. Make sure to go around the corner to see the South Window. We had the most fun at the South Window because we were alone and could play on the rocks, yell for echoes, and we found some shade on another hot morning. Double Arch is across the street. We did not hike that trail due to time and Double Arch is on our list for next time.
In Summary, Arches National Park is an expansive landscape with many hikes, viewpoints, and breathtaking locations. I was surprised to learn how big Arches National Park is. From photos I expected everything to be closer, the arches to be smaller, and I was concerned we would miss the colors that are so often highlighted. What I found, as we have so many times, you have to go experience the park for yourself. We were so impressed by the elevation changes, the bowl beneath Delicate Arch, the colors, the textures, the crust (don't disturb), and all the little nature our explorers discovered. I'll go into more details about the hikes in other blog posts. Feel free to ask questions about the Park as you plan your trip. If you've been what are your memories?