Sandstone arches are magical rock formations with an opening underneath. Many people believe that geologic forces, water, ice, extreme temperatures, and underground salt movement formed these mysterious formations.  However, researchers of the University of Prague found that the dramatic landscape is not only the work of 100 million years of erosion. According to them, the formation of arches depends on the force of gravity as well. Arches National Park in Utah has the world’s largest concentration of sandstone arches. The park is situated 8 km (5 miles) from Moab.

 There are many interesting places to visit in the relatively small park. The park has a number of great viewpoints, small hikes, and hikes that are more challenging. Most popular places to visit and hike at Arches National Park include Devils Garden, Delicate Arch, North and South Window, and Double Arch.  To enter the park, you need to pay a park entrance fee. The park entrance fee for a private vehicle is $25 including all individuals, $10 for pedestrians or bicyclists with no car, and $15 for motorcycles with one individual.  You pay an admission fee that is valid for seven days.

Hiking trails to Delicate Arch

For a wonderful sunrise or sunset, visit Delicate Arch!  Sunset is a busy time to visit Delicate Arch, and for good reason. Visiting the arch at sunset is best for photography. At sunrise, it is less crowded because it is much cooler in the mornings. Delicate Arch is iconic to the state of Utah. The famous freestanding arch is depicted on Utah’s license plates. It is one of the most renowned geologic features in the world, and the largest freestanding arch within Arches National Park. The arch is 64 feet high and 45 feet wide. A moderate to strenuous trail of 2.4 km (1.5 miles) leads you to the famous icon. The trail begins near Wolfe Ranch, and is accessible all year round. After a short well-graded path, hike up the slick rock slopes and the ledge that climbs up to Delicate Arch. The trail is marked with small piles of rocks, also called cairns. Hiking the trail can be difficult during hot weather. The trail climbs with no shade and a gain of 146m (480 feet) in elevation.

The Delicate Arch Trail is really worth a try; however, if you are a terrible hiker, you can see Delicate Arch from another viewpoint. The Delicate Arch Viewpoints Trail is an easy 5-minute walk that leads you to the Upper Viewpoint and the Lower Viewpoint. From the Lower Viewpoint, you can catch a glimpse of the arch from 1.6 km (1 mile) in the distance. To get a closer look at the arch from a different angle, walk to the Upper Viewpoint to the left. Upper Viewpoint is a 0.8 km (0.5 miles) walk with stairs. 

 

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park, Utah

Devils Garden Trail

Devils Garden Trail is the perfect hiking trail to explore Arches National Park. The hiking trail consists of three routes: the green trail, the red trail, and the blue trail. The whole trail is 11.5km (7.2 miles). It depends on your physical condition, how much time you have, and personnel interest which trail you should do. The green trail is an easy trail, which is perfect for sightseeing and is reasonably flat. Along the trail, you see Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, and Landscape Arch. Landscape Arch is one of the longest natural stone spans in the world, and is a feature you must see when visiting Arches National Park. The length of the green trail is only 1.3km (0.8 mile).

 Tunnel Arch

Pine Tree Arch Landscape Arch

If you are looking for a challenging hike, you should do the red trail, or Primitive Trail, that is 3.2km (2 miles). It is a less developed trail, and could be difficult to follow in some places.  You can easily get lost. So, look for small piles of rocks, also cairns, which guide you through the landscape. The blue trail is the rockiest part of Devils Garden, and at one point, you hike the fin-shaped red rock formations, also Fin Canyon. In addition, you must be comfortable to walk through sandy washes. Along the trail, you have a spur trail leading to Private Arch. The end of the blue trail is Double o Arch. From this point, you can follow the spur trail to Dark Angel, a 150-foot sandstone spire about half-a-mile northwest of Double o Arch. On your way to Dark Angel, you have a nice view over the backcountry of Arches National Park.

Fin CanyonDark Angel

Another more primitive trail you will enjoy is the blue route. The route is easy to follow and brings you to the Black Arch Overlook. You have an amazing view over the backcountry when the hike crosses the slick rocks. The route passes Wall Arch, and along the blue trail, you find spur trails to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch.  

Hiking the slick rocks

Overall, the best time to hike Devils Garden is in the morning. Start early! In the morning, you have some amazing photo opportunities, and it is much cooler.

Devils Garden

Windows Trail

North and South Window

Another trail that is worth a try is  Windows Trail. The easy hiking trail of 1.8 km (1.1 miles) leads you to North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch (distinctive landform with 2 openings). You can hike a loop via Primitive Trail. Primitive Trail is a less developed trail and climbs one hill.

Windows Trail

Double Arch

Double Arch is worth a visit after North and South window. It is an easy stroll of 0.4 km (0.25 mile) leading to Double Arch. In the past, double arch was known as Double Windows, Twinbow Bridges, and the Jug Handles. The largest opening has a span of 49 m (144 feet) which is the third longest in the park, and a height of 33 m (112 feet) which is the highest in the park. The best time to visit Double Arch for photography is in the morning.

Double Arch

Tips for hiking in Arches National Park

There are a few things to remember when you start hiking:

  • Do not walk or climb on arches!
  • Start hiking in early morning. In summer, temperatures in daytime can reach 43C (110F). Therefore, heat stroke and dehydration are common issues. Drink at least 4 liters (1 gallon) of water, and bring a hat and sunscreen.
  • It is not recommended to hike the red route of Devils Garden when the rocks are wet or snowy.
  • Also, go back to your vehicle when thunderstorms are nearby.
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Arches National Park, Utah 84532, USA