Best Hikes in Arches National Park

Best Hikes in Arches
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Arches National Park is a gem and one of Utah’s big five National Parks. The nice thing is that unlike places like Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite that take years to thoroughly explore, most of Arches can be explored in a few days. If you have more time you can hop over to Canyonlands National Park’s Island in the Sky district or head south to the Needles district. The town of Moab itself has tons of recreational opportunities as well. No matter how much time you have to enjoy the park if you love hiking in natural desert landscapes surrounded by wonderous red rocks then you will need to check out these six best hikes in Arches National Park.

The Windows Loop Trail with Double Arch Spur

Double Arch
Jennifer looks like an ant compared to the massive Double Arch at Arches National Park.
  • Trailhead: Windows Trailhead
    • Alternative: Double Arch Trailhead
  • Rating: Easy
  • Distance: 1-mile
    • Add on a half-mile for Double Arch.
  • Elevation Gain: 200′ (with Double Arch added)
  • Type: Loop Trail with a spur

This is by far one of the easiest trails in Arches National Park with more bang for the proverbial hiking buck than any other trail in the park and perhaps the world. The loop trail is about a mile total and visits three stunning Arch formations—Turret Arch, North Window, and South Window. However, the most stunning arch in this area is found on a spur (really a trail on the North Side of the parking loop) that leads to the Double Arch. The Double Arch is two arches in one and the trail allows visitors to get up close and personal with the tallest arch in the park.

Come early or stay late as this spot is the beating heart of Arches National Park and is easily accessible leading to huge crowds of people flooding the area every day.

Broken Arch Loop Trail

Broken Arch
Climbing through Broken Arch is a unique experience found in the backcountry of Arches National Park.
  • Trailhead: Sand Dune Arch Trailhead
    • Alternative: Broken Arch Trailhead
  • Rating: Moderately-Easy
  • Distance: 2.5-miles
  • Elevation Gain: 470′
  • Type: Lollipop Loop. (Starts with a spur and then turns into a loop.)

Most people who stop at the Sand Dune Arch Parking area set out on the short hike to the hidden Sand Dune Arch which is a part of this one of the best hikes in Arches, but few continue past the turnoff to the dune and on towards Broken Arch. Visitors who do will be rewarded with an additional loop trail that visits two more spectacular arch formations—the Broken Arch and the Tapestry Arch.

For those who are lucky enough to get reservations to the Devils Garden Campground, this loop can start from your campsite as the trail passes through the campground and the alternative Broken Arch Loop Trailhead can be used as the starting point.

Tower Arch Trail

Tower Arch - Best Hikes in Arches
Tower Arch takes its name from the rock tower rising from behind the massive arch.
  • Trailhead: Tower Arch Trailhead
  • Rating: Moderately-Difficult
  • Distance: 3.2-mile
  • Elevation Gain: 880′
  • Type: Out-&-Back

The Tower Arch trail is the most difficult and remote hike in Arches National Park. For those who aren’t acclimated to this environment this one will be difficult, but for those who are able to endure a reward awaits. A unique trail complete with towering rock formations and sand dunes ends with the massive arch and a huge red rock tower rising behind it. Add in that this is a seldom traveled area so crowds are at a minimum and you have one of the best hikes in Arches National Park. Just don’t tell everyone, as I like the solitude.

The Devils Garden: Primitive Trail Loop

Double O Arch
While Landscape Arch may be the biggest draw for most people to the Devils Garden Area the Double O Arch is stunning and the journey is amazing.
  • Trailhead: Devil’s Garden Trailhead
  • Rating: Moderately-Difficult
  • Distance: 8-miles with all possible spurs.
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,500′
  • Type: Large Loop with Four Spurs

The Devils Garden trail is no secret for travelers who come to see the rock arches in Arches National Park. This trail is the motherload of arches in the world. It has three easily accessible arches culminating in the Landscape Arch which may not be long for this world. Parts of it have already fallen away and most believe that it won’t be long before the entire formation collapses. Most travelers come to see the Landscape Arch and then head back for the parking lot. However, a Primitive Trail continues past the Landscape Arch and passes another six natural rock arches and one towering monolith via a short spur before coming full circle. Check out my full hiking guide here.

Fiery Furnace

Skull Arch
Skull Arch is one of the hidden arches waiting to be discovered inside the maze known as the Fiery Furnace.
  • Trailhead: Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
  • Permit Required
  • Rating: Moderately-Difficult
  • Distance: Varies
  • Total Elevation Gain: Varies
  • Type: Loop with Spurs… it is a maze.

This is another hidden gem of Arches National Park. First-timers entering the furnace must do so with a park ranger guide or accompany someone who has been in the furnace before. Permits are required for traveling through the furnace. The Fiery Furnace is a maze of towering rock fins. No less than three amazing arches can be found within this labyrinth (I have a feeling that there are many more that the park doesn’t lead hikers too). This is a hike you do for the immersive quality. You will be surrounded on all sides by the furnace’s stony red landscape. Check out my full trip report here.

Delicate Arch – The Best Hikes in Arches

Delicate Arch - Best Hikes in Arches
A journey to Delicate Arch is the number one must-do hike in Arches National Park.
  • Trailhead: Delicate Arch Trailhead
  • Rating: Moderately-Difficult
  • Distance: 3-Miles Total
  • Total Elevation Gain: 480′
  • Type: Out-&-Back

Delicate Arch is the most amazing rock formation I have ever seen. It looks like a carved statue placed on the edge of a cliff and for added effect backed with a white-capped mountain range. There is a reason why in a park with an estimated 2,000 rock arches (most aren’t accessible to the public) this arch has become the icon for all of Utah. It is on the Utah license plate and has come to represent the state’s unique eroded landscape. Delicate Arch is a stunning formation and the number one must-do when doing the best hikes in Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is also a very popular star photography location. Check out the full Delicate Arch hiking guide here.

Conclusion for the Best Hikes in Arches

With a little planning, the six best hikes in Arches National Park can be conquered in a three day weekend. Get a reservation 6-months before your trip, stay in the Devils Garden Campground and make it even easier to see the best of the park before the majority of visitors enter through the gate. The mesmerizing beauty of this gorgeous red landscape will have you reminiscing for years and longing for your next opportunity to visit this amazing wonderland carved by wind, water and time.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Barb Howard says:

    Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

    1. NomadicMoments says:

      Thanks Barb! Glad you enjoyed the pics.

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