"Arches National Park" Top 5 Page for this destination Arches National Park by goodfish

Arches National Park Travel Guide: 609 reviews and 1,580 photos

Red, red sandstone against a deep blue sky: Arches is Shutterbug Heaven. Millions of years of deposition, faulting and erosion has created 2,000 natural stone arches and other formations that can be driven, hiked, biked, and climbed . This area has been inhabited for 10,000 years: first by hunter/gatherers, then by Ancestral People, and later by contemporary Native Americans. For all of its beauty, it's also an inhospitable and fragile environment with little water and scorching heat. A national park since 1971, Arches has 18 miles of scenic road that winds through towering rock formations and ends at trailheads needed to access most of the natural arches. While there's some good scenery from the car window, this is a park that must be seen on foot to be appreciated as its most picturesque viewpoints are off-road.

I highly recommend combining a visit to Arches with the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. They are within shoutin' distance (relatively) from each other and you'll get two entirely different experiences (see my Canyonlands page/tips for info). Canyonlands is a lot like seeing the Grand Canyon: you spend a lot of time looking down. At Arches, you'll mostly be looking up. If you've ever done Zion and Bryce in one trip you'll know what I mean? Lovers of nature may find (as we did) that they prefer Canyonlands during peak season because of the absence of people: Arches was uncomfortably crowded the first time we were there, and parking can be a real challenge. It was a little less congested on our September trip in 2011, and by hiking into the further reaches of the park you can lose the majority of the bus-touring masses.

General Information: Arches is 5 miles north of Moab, Utah on U.S. 191. Entrance fees are $5 per pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcycle, and $10 per vehicle (or use your annual N.P. pass if you have one.) The park is open 24/7 every day of the year with visitor center hours changing seasonally. It offers a slide show, books, gifts, water and general information but no food. There are also no shuttles and no lodgings, other than a campground, within the park.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Nice assortment of hiking trails and terrific place for shutterbugs
  • Cons:Very crowded and very hot during high season
  • In a nutshell:Bring a lot of memory cards for the camera: you'll need them!
  • Last visit to Arches National Park: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 15, 2011
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Reviews (27)

Comments (12)

  • jojes's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    These views are really stunning. This is - together with Grand Canyon and Zion NP - on our to do-list for the future.

    • jojes's Profile Photo
      Jun 18, 2013 at 8:45 AM

      when the time's there for planning that trip, I know who I'll turn to for more info! :-)

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Jun 18, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      I'll be here for ya! We' have a couple other members who'll be great help as well.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Dec 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Wow, that fiery furnace looks awsome, would love to have a crack at that.

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Dec 2, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    "Shutterbug heaven" - yep, that just about sums it up. Oh that I had more time than the 1 1/2 hours I had on the bus trip. Lovely opening shots by the way and I checked out Zion (where I also had 1 1/2 hours!) and can relate to your experience. Tasmania's about the closest thing we have here to a really out there experience for photographers but totally different territory. Hope you and yours have a merry Christmas and thanks for the visit. CHeers, Ian

  • pfsmalo's Profile Photo
    Jan 3, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Lovely reviews of the trails Kate, enjoyed the walks.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    So many beautiful sceneries there are in Arches National Park! I really want to go hiking there one day, and would then prefer a season with less visitors. High season seems to be absolutly too crowded!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Kate, Wonderful page and photo's. My husband and I loved this park, but we were on tour, so only saw the main sight's. Thankgoodness, our group wasn't noisy, as like you, I enjoy the serenity in places like this. The colours in your photo are fantastic, quite a few of mine are off colour because of the tinted glass windows in the coach, and the were from film, I think digital is a lot better colour. Thanks for bringing back many happy memories.

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    good job with grading the hikes. the parks authority is torn between appealing to the largest number of visitors and making it accessible.
    the way you are grading it is more sensible!

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    May 25, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    These were excellent tips for my searching what to see this fall out that way-thanks for the detail comments; it really helped

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Jul 22, 2008 at 5:28 PM

    Wow! Can't wait. Leave for Moab in 6 weeks! Thanks for the great tips!

  • Martin_S.'s Profile Photo
    Jun 30, 2008 at 11:13 PM

    For some reason the last time we were there in July it was almost deserted, both Arches and Canyonlands....just lucky I guess. Martin

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