"Good stuff to know: grading the hikes" Top 5 Page for this destination Arches National Park Things to Do Tip by goodfish

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


You'll see on the park's website that they break hikes into 3 categories: short, moderate and long. In the printed material you receive with your pass, they list these same trails as easy, moderate and strenuous - which can be confusing. A long hike isn't necessarily strenuous if it's all on flat ground, and a short hike can be a real workout if it involves a lot of difficult scrambling and steep ascents. So what's the deal?

Firstoff, Arches National Park sees visitors of all ages, nationalities and physical abilities. I've seen my share who confuse the word "park" with paved paths, water fountains and short, easy strolls to shady benches. I've seen tourists climb off buses in spiked sandals and Sunday clothes (see my "What not to wear" tip under warnings and dangers), enter long and very hot trails with no water, carry babies about in August without hats or other sun protection, and pretty much issue open invitations to sprained ankles and/or nasty cases of sunstroke, sunburn or dehydration.

That said, the park folks have to err on the side of caution to get visitors who haven't done their homework to listen up. Is the Fiery Furnace really all that strenuous? Not for seasoned hikers maybe but it'll be a lousy experience for a chubby couch potato with back and knee problems. Is Delicate Arch really all that tough to get to? It is if you're trying to climb open slickrock with smooth-bottomed shoes and no water on a July afternoon.

So I've chosen to err on the side of the more cautionary as well and use the park's easy/moderate/strenuous ratings for my tips. Best thing to do? Some reading before you come and talk to a ranger at the visitor center before setting off. He/she will help you assess how well you're equipped/physically fit and recommend treks that you can do and will enjoy. And remember; just about ANY hike (with the exception of Fiery Furnace) can be scratched if you get into a situation you can't handle: just turn around and go back the way you came.

Address: Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Website: http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/upload/2011ArchesVisitorGuide.pdf

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 29, 2012
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