Arches National Park Things to Do Tips by Trekki Top 5 Page for this destination

Arches National Park Things to Do: 386 reviews and 736 photos

close to Park Avenue - Arches National Park

close to Park Avenue

Short stops vs. small and long hikes

As Arches NP is spread out on quite a huge area, and the famous rock formations are not within a short reach, you will not be able to see all of them during only one day of visit. Some even require a longer hike to see their full beauty.
So I‘ll mark all sights in my tips in the heading, if they can be seen by just a short car stop or if you need to hike around.

It’s maybe best to decide beforehand, which landmarks you want to see and which trails you want to hike, plus some extra time, as the scenery is just too beautiful to rush through. Otherwise you end up like me in winter – being in Devils Garden at nearing sunset.

Address: Arches NP

Phone: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Sheep Rock in the middle - Arches National Park

Sheep Rock in the middle

South Park Overview (car stop)

Coming from the visitor center, and drive around the big wall on your left, you will start to gasp in amazement of the view that opens up to you. Left hand side, you will see the famous Park Avenue, with it's gorgeous walls and rock formations.
Get off the car and do a small hike - either do the full trail or stroll just a bit inside to get closer to the rocks.
Even from here, at the southern entrance of this part called Park Avenue - as it resembles a city skyline, frozen in red rock - you will get the first impression of what Arches "is all about". You will see a small wash, flanked by huge sheer walls, and already some funny formations, which all got their special names.
On my first visit to Arches, we got off at the northern parking spot, and had a look down into Park Avenue - which was also very rewarding.

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Just some miles north of Visitor Center and park entrance

Phone: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Closer view of Three Gosspis and Sheep Rock - Arches National Park

Closer view of Three Gosspis and Sheep Rock

Get off to hike Park Avenue (short hike)

If you have some time, you should definitely stroll the 1,5 km (1 mile) through the wash, which leads through Park Avenue to end up at Courthouse Towers. It is well marked, the first part being paved by now (to be seen on one of the pics), slightly descending to the north. Plase take in mind that this is not a round trip, so you either need to hike back, or you need to have your car somehow parked at the Courthouse Tower parking area.

However, the hike is worth doing, as this is the only place in the park, where you are surrounded by these very high walls, which even tell you a bit on the geologic strata that are present in Arches NP, and make you feel very small in terms of height and age. Here, in Park Avenue, eternity did not yet carve as much as in the other parts, and so just have a close look on the walls and imagine that there will be arches in some more years (hundred thousand years, but… :-) )
You’ll come along the Courthouse Towers, you will see Sheep Rock, The Organ, Tower of Babel and much more fascinating formations which not yet have a name. Without a stop, the one way trip would take you 25-30 minutes – but count in more, as there is much to see.
Best done either in the morning or in the late afternoon, as it will be not as hot – take in account that the Park Avenue walls are running north-south, thus will provide a bit of shade in mornings and afternoons. Also, the play of light and shadow is much more exciting then.

Fascinating views of the hike can be seen on the Terraserver Aerial View - on the bottom of the picture, the tiny white dots are the cars at the southern parking lot, from where the path leads direction north. Just look at the big wall on the eastern side to get an idea of how it looks from the air :-)

On their website, Arches NP rates this hike as moderate, probably because it is not a round trip one. I found it quite easy, though.

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Just some miles north of park entrance

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Three Gosspis – as seen from the road - Arches National Park

Three Gosspis – as seen from the road

Three Gossips (car stop)

Oh well – remember the movie “Thelma and Louise”, when the girls wake up in the car somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by marvellous landscape ? This is where they’ve been – though I never understood how they managed to drive through the entrance gate in the middle of the night (looool).

Three gossips are for me the most funniest rock formation in Arches, as they really look like a bunch of old ladies, frozen in Entrada sandstone, sharing the newest gossip who came, who went along the main road of Arches NP :-).

Easily seen and photographed from the main road – however, you only get their back sight. Better make a stop on your way out of the park to see them really gossiping (last pic).

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Just north of Park Avenue - on the left (west) side of the main road

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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The Organ - Arches National Park

The Organ

The Organ (car stop)

Another good example for “early Arches NP geology” is The Organ, just north of Park Avenue trail, on the eastern side of the main road.

It nicely shows how the rock strata had been grown and solid packed over the aeons, the horizontal cracks between the strata and the layers, which will widen up over the next aeons, to form the next generation arches :-)

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Just north of Park Avenue, on the right (eastern) side of Main Road

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Balanced Rock - Arches National Park

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock (easy hike)

Next, we'll pass the famous Balanced Rock, on the eastern side of the main road. A little parking lot animates to get off the car and walk around this fascinating formation on the half km round trip.

It looks as if the gods have just made a short break in playing football and have placed their ball on a pedestal. And although it seems as if the ball will topple down in the next second, it won't do it for a long time - as the strata are much different and thus undergo different speed in erosion. The "ball" has been formed out of Entrada slickrock sandstone, which is of finer grains and thus more packed together. Therefore, erosion will result in much more rounded forms. In contrary, Navajo sandstone, the pedestal, contains more thicker grains, which is eroded in much rougher manner. Both sandstones are separated by the even more eroded light pink soft layer of Dewey bridge bed.

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Approx. 15 km north of park entrance, on the right (eastern) side of the main road.

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Parade of Elephants - and La Sal Mountains - Arches National Park

Parade of Elephants - and La Sal Mountains

Parade of Elephants (car stop)

Just off Balanced Rock, a side trip can be made to the Parade of Elephants and the Windows Section. However, I catched a glimpse on the Parade of Elephants from my hike around Balanced Rock.

In the back of the picture – the La Sal Mountain range. Maybe, some of the pinnacles have been arches in the past – some of them look at least as if they once have been connected with a “bridge”.

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Approx. 16 km north of park entrance, make a right (eastward) turn at the junction.

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Fins - of Fiery Furnace - Arches National Park

Fins - of Fiery Furnace

Fiercy Furnace Overlook (car stop)

Heading further north from Balanced Rock on the main road, we will pass the famous Fiery Furnace on our left (east). They are a dazzling labyrinth of Entrada sandstone fins, which form narrow canyons.

There are no marked trails in there, and if you want to explore them, better do it with the offered ranger tours. Otherwise, you might get lost. I never was hiking around in them, but plan it for the next trip.

To appreciate the amazing big Fiery Furnace, please check the Aerial view of Terraserver.

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Approx. 20 km north of park entrance on the right (eastern) side of the main road.

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Pine Tree Arch - Arches National Park

Pine Tree Arch

Pine Tree Arch (easy hike)

Heading further on, we come to the tailhead of Devils Garden. This is starting point for one of Arches NP's wonders - Landscape Arch. Leave your car at the big parking lot at the trailhead.

On the short hike to Landscape Arch, there are two other arches on the right (eastern) side - Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.

Pine Tree Arch got it's name from the little pinon pine which decided to grow just in it's opening. Through the opening, you have a wonderful view to the northeast, La Sal Mountains in the very distance. Take your time, and step through the arch to see 2 fins just close by, which might also have been an arch in the past, who got worn away by erosion (pic 3 and 4).

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Approx. 30 km north of park entrance. Get off the car at the parkground and hike around 20 minutes, until you see Pine Tree Arch on your right (eastward) side.

Phone: Tel: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Entrance to Devils Garden trail - Arches National Park

Entrance to Devils Garden trail

Devils Garden hike (difficult hike)

After the visit at Landscape arch, Devils Garden trail continues, however, a bit more difficult now. The trail is no longer broad and easy to hike, but leads up and down across some wild terrain. However - there are minimum 6 arches more to discover, and also the scenery is much more beautiful and magic. And it's definitely less crowded.

The most prominent trail leads direction north and passes along Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Wall Arch up to Double-O-Arch, followed by a side trip to Dark Angel (not an arch, but a lonesome pinnacle). The trail back from Double-O-Arch is either on the same path, or through a primitive trail, to see Private Arch and the Fin Canyon , which will meet the main trail close to Landscape Arch.
We only went up to Navajo Arch, as with all the hikes before, it was already getting dark most of the time.
Pic 1, 2 and 3 show the "entrance" of the trail, just after Landscape Arch, pic 4 the beautiful endless view back to the east.
Additionally, I've attached a cutout from the hiking book - with the locations of the arches within Devils Garden:
2: Double-O-Arch
3: Navajo Arch
4: Partition Arch
5: Wall Arch
6: Landscape Arch
7: Pine Tree Arch
8: Tunnel Arch
9: Tapestry Arch
10: Broken Arch
11: Sand Dune Arch
12: Skyline Arch

The whole trail from parking lot on is around 10 km, and will take minimum 5 hours, inlcuding all pictures and sightseeing.
Don't start the whole trail too late, as the north of Devils Garden is quite narrow (compared to the open land around Landscape Arch), and sunlight is missing for photography.

Address: Arches NP

Directions: Approx. 30 km north of park entrance, leave your car at the parking ground, and hike Devils Garden trail.

Phone: (435)719-2299

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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