In the eastern part of Utah is Arches National Park, one of the best places to watch a beautiful sunset. There are over 2,000 natural stone arches, each with their own unique likeness. In addition, there is also a variety of balancing rocks, pinnacles, and giant fins, making it one of the most well-known parks for finding rock formations. Given the distinct look of Arches National Park, visitors will often feel as if they’re visiting another world for the first time.
There aren’t any other parks on the planet that can match it in terms of textures, colors, and landforms. You can get a little creative with your visit by giving special names the rock formations based on how they look. While you look at the sights that can’t be seen anywhere else, bond with the desert environment. From the comfort of your RV or the glow of the stars, get lost in the wonder of the rocks.
Considering all of the landmarks that Utah has to offer, it’s easy to immerse yourself in them. See everything with the help of programs led by rangers, bike or backpack, or drive in a camper to get a scenic view. For every park experience you want to have, park rangers with a wealth of information, designated areas, and properly maintained trails are there to give you a safe experience.
Due to the moderate climate that can be found in the fall and spring, these are the best seasons for visiting the park. Summer can be quite hot for most people, but if you don’t mind the temperature, it can be a great time to visit the park. In the day, the summer temperatures are pretty high at the park because it’s located in the desert of Utah, but the temperature falls low after sunset and stays that way until the sun comes up again.
Dressing in layers is the best option to deal with the changes in temperature. The problem of humidity doesn’t exist in Utah, with it being unnoticeable especially when during nightfall camping. When you’re looking at the wonders of the stars or watching the formation shadows, this is the perfect weather.
The Arches are a great place for the entire family to enjoy. The beginning hikers and the seasoned veterans will be able to find something to do in the park. For anything from a journey that lasts for days, to a short tour, trails can be used for biking, horseback riding, and hiking. Multiple views can be seen without taking a single climb, but if you choose to do so, there are many ways to do it.
Arches National Park is RV-friendly, meaning you can either rent one or drive your own and set up a camp. All of the beauty of Utah’s wilderness can be experienced when camping at Arches National Park.
Campgrounds inside Arches National Park
Devil’s Garden Campground
In a secluded area of the national park is Devil’s Garden Campground. This is a perfect location, as it allows you to have a magnificent view of the arches. You can relax and forget about the troubles of the world as you watch the sunrise and set from the campground.
You can even get the real camping experience from the 2 group sites and 51 campsites that give you the chance to rough it. It takes a bit of a journey to reach the campground, as it’s 18 miles away from the main road.
Amenities like flush and pit toilets and generators with a few hours of operation can be found. If you want to bring your four-legged companions with you, you’re allowed to do so.
The months between March and October are the busiest ones for the campground. Either you can make a reservation to visit during these months, or visit during one of the other months since it’s open all year long.
Campgrounds outside Arches National Park
Devil’s Garden has the advantage of being inside Arches National Park, making it a big camping spot, but it isn’t the only place where people can go. There are lots of campgrounds that can be found outside of the park and will still provide a great camping experience and allow you to explore Moab.
Check out the following sites:
Desert Moon Campground
If you want to have a camping experience but don’t want to do too much roughing, then Desert Moon Campground is a great spot. It’s conveniently located and can come through in a pinch situation where other places are booked solid.
Driving into Moab for 30 to 40 minutes will get you to the campground that is found in a quiet area behind a hotel, and there are 15 sites to use.
The people at the campground are very friendly, and for anyone that is looking for modern amenities, toilets, potable water, sewage hookups, electricity, WIFI access, and picnic tables are present. You can have a campfire and bring your pets along for the fun experience.
Canyonlands RV Resort and Campground
Canyonlands National Park combines a luxury feel with the breathtaking visuals that only a spot in nature can provide.
This campground can be reached by driving 10 minutes from Arches, and contains hiking areas, a gated swimming pool, and plenty of areas to just relax and enjoy yourself.
As far as amenities go, there are cabin rentals, free parking, WIFI access, an RV area, and sites for tents. A reservation will be needed to access this area, as it is only open during the months between March and October.
Moab Valley RV Resort & Campground
This campground can be found near the Arches Park, around 6.5 miles in distance from North Window, and near Mesa Arch by 6 miles. RVs can be taken to the park, glorious garden and mountain views can be seen, and you can have the adventure of a lifetime.
Children will love going to the playground and playing on the giant chessboard. You can relax in the outdoor pool, or take a dip in the hot tub. There’s WIFI access, bathrooms, and a launderette.
As far as sites outside of Arches National Park, this is one that you shouldn’t pass up, as it’s open the entire year, can be used for vacation rentals and has sites for tents and RVs. The campground website has some amazing photos that can give you an idea of what kinds of amazing sights you’re going to see.
Whether you want to bask in the sunlight or sit in the shade, this campground has what you want. You can bring the RV and hoop up, watch some cable TV, use the WIFI, take a dip in the heated pool, send the kids to the playground, or relax with a hot shower.
There are even laundry service and a shop for buying supplies and souvenirs at Slick Rock Campground.
Traveling one mile south from the Colorado River will bring you to the campground. Campfires aren’t allowed, but you can bring your pets if you like, and it’s a really great place for an adult to relax.
Up The Creek Campground
This campground is probably one of the quietest locations that can be found near Moab. It’s a modern-day desert oasis where anyone can come to camp.
A short distance from Main Street in Moab, this campground is located near trees that provide a cooling environment.
You can camp out with your tent in one of the 18 campsites found on the campground. Campfires and dogs are not allowed, and kids under the age of 3 aren’t really suitable for the campground, but if you want to take a rest and check out Moab, it’s still a good spot.
Arches rests in the desert region of the Colorado Plateau, which means that it will see a lot of temperature changes, with a 40-degree change happening in a span of 24 hours.
For this reason, the spring months of April and May are the most popular in Arches National Park, along with September and October in the fall seasons.
The average high is 60 to 80 F in the spring and fall, and the average low is around 30 to 50 F. The temperature can climb to a whopping 100 degrees during the summer months, and it can dip as low as 0 to 20 in the winter, with temperatures normally resting between 30 and 50 F.
When visiting the Arches between September and June, clothing for cold climates should be packed.
Backcountry Camping Rules & Tips
- A distance of at least a mile from a designated road should be used as a camping spot.
- A distance of at least 0.5 miles from a designated trail should be used for camping, while staying out of sight.
- Before the sun sets, establish the camp.
- Keep a distance of 100 feet from flowing water, 300 feet from archaeological sites, and 300 feet from water that isn’t flowing when making campsites.
- Every footprint you make into the fragile desert crust can damage it. Use the rocks and dry washes to walk.
- Slick rock is the best place for this.
- This is the desert and you will need to bring a lot of water to stay hydrated.
- Dig a hole of 4 to 6 inches to bury your human waste, or pack it.
- Any trash you make, included hygiene products and toilet paper, should be packed.
- Keep food away from any wildlife.
- Keep an eye out for venomous animals, such as black widow spiders, scorpions, kissing bugs, and rattlesnakes.
- Let the peace and quiet of the public lands give you an enjoyable experience.
Arches National Park Pet Regulations
The National Park does allow pets inside, but they must always be on a leash. The owner has to pick up any waste the pets make, and the pets shouldn’t be left alone without supervision.
The Devils Garden site, parking areas, picnic areas, and park roads also allow pets. The visitor center, overlooks, and the areas on and near the hiking trails are all off limits for pets.
Parking at Arches National Park
Devil’s Garden, Delicate Arch, and The Windows are parking lots in the park that are quite popular, and usually between 9 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, they’re full. Getting to the parking lots early in the morning or late in the afternoon are the best ways to ensure that you have a parking spot.
You can’t drive off road, so if the parking lots can’t hold any more cars, you have to use designated parking areas. You also can’t block traffic when there aren’t any spots to park in, so you may be constantly moving until a spot finally opens up for you.
Arches National Park Camping List
If you are planning on going camping in the Arches National Park often referred to fondly as the red rock paradise, you should be armed with a comprehensive plan prior to starting your adventure.
In desert conditions such as those found in this park, temperatures can rise to triple digits during the day and then suddenly plummet to freezing levels as the night sets in.
With this in mind, when going camping, it is better to overpack rather than find that you packed less than you actually need.
Below is a detailed list of essentials that you should pack when camping for a few days in this park.
Basic Camping Gear:
- Sleeping pads
- Sleeping bag
- Camping seats
- A lantern
Basic Cooking Gear:
- A stove
- A cutting board
- Cutlery and crockery to be used for cooking and eating
- Cooking oil
- Water jugs
- A cooler
- Trash bags to hold remainders of food
Essential Arches Hiking Gear:
- 1 liter of water for every hour that you plan to go hiking
- A wicking long sleeve shirt to protect you from the sun
- A pair of Wicking long pants
- A hat to protect you from the scorching sun
- Day pack
- Lunch and snacks
- Synthetic or wool socks (Avoid cotton socks as they can be extremely uncomfortable when the temperatures are high)
- A bandana (You can wet it and then wear it around your neck when hiking to stay cool)
- A pair of long underwear
- A puffy jacket to wear at night
- Shoes to wear around the campsite
- A pair of gloves
Other Highly Recommended Essential Items to Pack:
- Bug spray
- Toilet paper
- A complete first-aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
Top Tips for the Best Camping Experience in the Arches National Park
When we went camping in the Arches National Park, there a few important things that we learned. Read on for some simple yet highly useful tips when you are going camping.
- First, no matter the season or time of the year, ensure that you are properly covered with sunscreen. This park can be extremely hot even during winter.
- If you are planning on visiting popular destinations within the park such as Delicate Arch, Devil’s Garden, Double Arch and, The Windows, plan your visit for non-peak hours. Non-peak hours typically fall between 9 AM and 4 PM. You can also plan your camping trip to coincide with the late fall or early spring period. By visiting during non-peak periods, you will be able to avoid huge crowds of other campers.
- When going hiking on short or long trails ensure that you are wearing the proper footwear. Ensure that you get quality and comfortable hiking boots for your camping trip. Most of the hiking trails in this park are not paved so it would be best if you wore your camping boots prior to the trip so that your feet adjust beforehand.
- Before heading out for any hiking venture, ensure that you check the weather forecast. The weather can change fast in this park so it is best if you stay constantly updated on forecasts.
- If you have any questions about anything in the park, get your queries answered by the park rangers who can be found at the visitor center situated near the entrance. Do not be shy or economical with questions… Remember the park rangers are there to make your camping experience as smooth and great as possible.
- Before heading in to explore the park, get a map at the entrance to the park. Your map will contain important details such as the location of trails, bathrooms, parking areas, and much more useful information.
Arches National Park Trails
Balanced Rock Loop
Length: 0.3 Miles
This is an easy and easily accessible partially-paved looping trail that leads hikers to one of the most famous and stunning stone formations in the park.
Length: 2.9 Miles
This trail is recommended for hikers looking for a moderate to strenuous trail. It usually leads to the iconic park arch that you have probably seen plastered across many photos. This trail does not have any shaded areas and it is very popular with hikers. As such, ensure that you arrive early and carry plenty of sunscreens if you are planning to hike this trail.
Devils Garden Loop
Length: 7.2 Miles
This trail usually leads hikers to the 306-foot Landscape Arch which coincidentally happens to be one of the largest naturally formed arches in the world.
Be warned that this looped trail is not for the faint of heart. Expect to come across a lot of uneven ground, narrow ledges, and Slickrock climbing.
If you fear exposure or heights, this trail is not for you! Additionally, this trail should not be attempted by all hikers when it is snowy or when the rocks are wet.
Length: 0.5 Miles
This is an easy hiking trail that is lined with gravel. It usually leads up to the base of two huge arch span that are joined together on one end. This trail can be accessed by persons using wheelchairs if they have someone to assist along the journey.
Double O Arch
Length: 4.5 Miles
NOTE: This trail is sometimes confused with the Double Arch Trail. This trail offers explorers and hikers a challenging climb. You can expect to go over sandstone slabs and narrow edges and, in the process, you will get to experience some of the most scenic views of the park.
Arches National Park Viewpoints
Located close to the park entrance, this one-way trail runs for one Mile through a steep canyon with sandstone walls and a smooth bottom. To avoid the need for hiking twice, most hikers are usually dropped off at the start of the trail and picked at the end.
This is a fairly easy roundtrip trail that runs for 0.8 miles and leads to the Double Arch. You may recognize these two massive joined arches if you have watched the beginning of the movies The Last Crusade and Indiana Jones. This trail happens to be within walking distance if the Windows.
The Turret Arch and the North and South Windows can be found along a fairly easy one Mile looping trail. The Windows is ideal for explorers who are looking to enjoy or photograph a scenic sunrise.
This viewpoint is situated close to where the Delicate Arch trail starts. It is the restored home of rancher John Wesley Wolfe who built his homestead in this area of the park around the end of the 1800s.
This is the most renowned arch in the park and maybe in the world. To access this arch, you can either hike 0.8 Miles to a roadside turnout or else you can choose to view this awe-inspiring natural wonder from underneath by first hiking across a 3 Mile roundtrip trail that starts at the Wolfe Ranch to gain a 480-feet elevation.
This trail is hard so you should ensure you are adequately hydrated when hiking. Given the popularity of the Delicate Arch, you may find a lot of people hiking the trails leading up to it in the peak season. If you are looking for solitude, consider hiking early in the morning.
Additionally, it is worth noting that sunsets offer the best view for photos.
This is a colorful formation of extremely old sand dunes that you can view from above by visiting an area of the park road located between the Windows area and the Courthouse Towers.
To access this area, you must have a ranger with you.
You can reserve a visit to this area by visiting the visitor center found near the park entrance. Expect to pay a fee for the tour. Note that tours often sell out fast so it best if you make your reservation in advance.
On your tour of the Fiery Furnace, you will go through a maze of sandstone fins that pundits consider to have some of the most interesting geological formations in the park.
If you are planning to tour this area, you can access full season booking details on the park’s website.
Devil’s Garden Trail
This series of trails encompasses sandstone fissures and it is home to many of the park’s arches such as the Double O Arch, and the Landscape Arch which is the longest in the park.
To get to the arches, you will have to hike through a series of trails. For example, to get to the Landscape Arch, you can hike roundtrip across 1.6 Miles from the trailhead.
To get to the Double O Arch, you will have to hike across a harder 4.2 Mile roundtrip trail.
Unfortunately, the Wall Arch – One of the arches that could have been accessed through the series of trails in the Devil’s Garden collapsed in the summer of 2008.
This area which is located in the Northwest area of the park is rarely visited by visitors to Arches National Park. It can only be accessed on foot or through a dirt road.
Other park viewpoints such as the formation called the Marching Men and Tower Arch are located across a short trail.
What Other Activities Can You Undertake in Arches National Park?
Though I have to admit that the rock formations in the park are alluring and breathtaking, there is so much more that you can do in Arches National Park other than hiking. Below are a few ideas on other things you can do when you visit the park.
This basically means driving around and enjoying the geological formations in the park. However, keep in mind that you may need a 4WD if you are driving on some roads especially those that lead to less popular tourist areas.
In some hiking areas, you may need to backpack to get through the trails. If you are going backpacking, you will need to have a permit. Permits are usually offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
This is a popular activity within the park. Keep in mind that you can only cycle on roads and there are no cycling lanes.
If you are looking to tour the park as a group, there are several firms that offer this option.
This pastime is allowed within the park. If you love horseback riding as I do, then you are in luck! Should you choose this form of transportation, ensure that you first understand the rules and regulations enforced within the park.
If photography makes you tick, you can check the NPS website to understand the best times to photograph the destinations in the park.
There are some specific programs and tours that rangers usually put together for groups touring the park.
If rock climbing is your thoughts, you can explore this option. Ensure that you first check the regulations first though.
One activity that is extremely popular which you may not have heard about is stargazing. The popularity of this option stems from the fact that you can indulge yourself at any time of the day.
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