The perfect desert adventure is waiting for you in Moab, Utah, at Arches National Park!
This outdoor playground is home to the highest density of natural sandstone arches in the world: we’re talking over 2,000 documented to date!
Full of breathtaking red rock features and scenic hiking trails, Arches National Park is sure to impress every national park enthusiast. But there’s a lot to see here, and it can get overwhelming, so we’ve broken the top thing to do in Arches National Park into this easy two day Arches itinerary!
Day 1 of Your Arches Itinerary
Start the day at the Arches National Park Visitor Center
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The rugged landscape that makes up the 119 square mile park is more fragile than you may think.
Luckily, the Arches National Park Visitor Center near the entrance station is well-equipped to provide information about park stewardship as well details on how to access and appreciate the park’s many famous attractions.
Also, they’ll let you know of any important closures. For example, on my last visit, unfortunately the Devil’s Garden was temporarily closed.
The visitor center is also a great place to top off all your water bottles! Although there are fill stations sprinkled throughout the park, it’s important to carry plenty of water at all times.
Summertime temperatures often exceed 100ºF/38°C, so proper hydration while tackling this Arches itinerary is extra important — especially if you’re hiking a lot!
Begin your exploration at the Moab Fault Overlook
As you continue into the park from the visitor center, you will begin to gain elevation.
Look around at the sandstone features as you make the switchbacks above the park entrance. To the left, you will see three pinnacles called the Three Penguins. Can you make out the penguin shapes?
The turnout for the Moab Fault Overlook will be one of the first viewpoints in the park on the right side of the road. Check out the impressive fault and read through the helpful interpretive signs.
Hike the scenic Park Avenue Trail
From the Moab Fault Overlook, continue on the main road to the Park Avenue Trail and Viewpoint. The views are epic right from the parking area. This stop makes a great backdrop for a group photo!
Park visitors that are unable to hike long distances can enjoy an amazing lookout here. The first section of the hiking trail is paved to be wheelchair and stroller accessible.
For those who wish to continue past the paved section, the trail leads toward the astonishing Courthouse Towers in the distance. The 2-mile out-and-back trail takes hikers to the canyon floor for a close up of the various towers and fins!
The trail connects with the main road at the 1-mile turnaround point, so it’s possible to arrange for a shuttle (do this in advance) if you don’t want to hike back to the Park Avenue Trailhead or are trying to save time on this Arches itinerary to maximize your tirp.
Gaze at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
After a nice walk through the sandstone monoliths, head back to the main road and stop at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint.
There’s not much of a trail here, but it’s a nice place for scenic views with some interpretive posters to read through. You’ll also be able to spot the Three Sisters rock formation here!
The La Sal Mountains that you can see in the distance are about 20 miles south of Moab and are the second-highest mountain range in Utah.
They offer great recreation opportunities for locals and visitors with skiing in the wintertime! But in summer, boy, do they make one beautiful backdrop.
Visit Arches’ ‘Great Wall’
This feature isn’t quite the same as the great wall you may be thinking of on the other side of the globe.
The Great Wall in Arches National Park is a towering row of naturally formed sandstone cliffs and towers.
Take in a drive-by view of this phenomenal feature or stop at the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint. From the designated viewpoint, you can see the Great Wall in the distance and the petrified dunes with the La Sal Mountains in the background.
Hike to the viewpoint at Balanced Rock Trail
This next tower is going to blow your mind! If you’re looking closely, you can even spot it as you drive to the trailhead…
Continue past the Great Wall on the main road until you see the well-marked parking area for the Balanced Rock Trail on the right.
Near the trailhead, there are bathrooms and a nice picnic area. Take some time to regroup, hydrate, and refuel with a well-deserved picnic lunch before you head out on a hike to Balanced Rock.
Feeling rejuvenated? Good!
Now, it’s time to get a closer view. The short and easy 0.3-mile scenic loop will take you around the base of the iconic feature.
This rock formation, known as a hoodoo (the likes of which you’ll see all over Utah, in particular Bryce Canyon National Park) appears to be balancing a bolder that is 55 feet in diameter.
The total height of the structure is 128 feet!
Explore the Windows Section of Arches National Park
Not far past the Balanced Rock Parking Area is a side road marked with signs leading to The Garden of Eden, Double Arch Trail, and The Windows Section.
The first hike takes off at the very end of the side road. Park in The Windows Section Parking Area and look for signs to The Windows Trail.
The Windows Trail is an easy 0.65-mile loop that takes hikers to the North and South Windows and finishes off with an up-close view of Turret Arch.
As another option, hikers can take Windows Primitive Loop Trail for an alternate view of the North and South Windows. Truth be told, literally all the trails are all scenic in this section of Arches National Park!
Hike the Double Arch Trail
The second trail that you must hike on this side road is the Double Arch Trail.
The Double Arch Trailhead Parking is just a short drove from the Windows Section. Set aside ample time to explore this next arch and don’t forget your camera!
This easy 0.25-mile hike begins in a cool desert forest of juniper trees. Continue on the trail until you come to the unmistakable Double Arch! There’s nothing quite like it.
Set up camp at Devils Garden Campground
A fun-filled day in Arches National Park is best rewarded with an overnight at Devils Garden Campground. It’s also the only campground in Arches proper.
Located right inside the park, this campground makes a perfect starting point for your next day’s adventures. The sites in this campground are all well laid out providing some shade and red rock views.
It’s also a great place for stargazing in Arches!
Take in the sunset at Skyline Arch
Did you think you were done for the day? No way! Arches National Park is famous for its glowing golden hour!
Right from the campground, take the short and easy walk over to the Skyline Arch. The round trip walk will be less than 0.5 miles from the trailhead.
If you brought your headlamp along, stick around for the star show. The uninterrupted night sky is sure to reveal some stellar views of the Milky Way.
That’s officially all for day one. Now, it’s time to rest up for an early start!
Day 2 of your Arches Itinerary
Catch sunrise on The Broken Arch Trail
Rise and shine!
Grab your headlamp, camp stove, instant coffee, and a breakfast bar for the trail, because this is a sunrise you will not want to miss. Mornings are hard, I know, but this will be 100% worth it.
Right from the campground, hop on the Broken Arch Trail. The arch is located less than a mile from the trailhead, and it offers a perfect spot to sit and brew some morning coffee as you watch the sun come up over Arches National Park.
From Broken Arch, you can complete the loop to pass by Sandstone Arch on your way back to the campground or go back the way you came. The distances are about the same.
Trek through Devils Garden
Take your time breaking down your campsite as you prepare for another day of adventure in this desert playground! Don’t forget to top off on water here, as refill spots can be few and far between in Arches National Park.
No trip to Arches is complete without a hike on the Devils Garden Trail. Within only 2 miles of hiking, you will pass by a dozen natural sandstone arches.
This is a good hike to do earlier in the day before temperatures become too hot (hence the name Devil’s Garden!).
With detours to grab a closer look at some of the arches, the total distance on this hike becomes about 5 miles — so it’s not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to tackle this hike and bring lots of water, preferably in a Camelbak for easy access.
Return to the parking area to find some shade and a cool drink of water!
Stare at the beautiful Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
On the main road headed toward the park entrance, there is a parking area for the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint.
From here, you can get an epic view into the thick fins, hoodoos, and arches of this area.
To hike in Fiery Furnace, you must obtain a permit from the visitor center or join in on a ranger-led hike (I recommend this latter option).
Note that since there are no maintained trails through Fiery Furnace, it’s easy to become disoriented and lost — another reason a ranger-led hike is a fabulous idea.
Visit Delicate Arch for sunset
We saved the most iconic arch in Arches National Park for last! You will probably recognize Delicate Arch from the many social media snaps of it, and even from Utah’s license plate!
To reach the trailhead, continue on the main road toward the park entrance until you reach the turn for Wolf Ranch / Delicate Arch Viewpoint Road on the left. Continue down the side road and park at the Wolf Ranch Parking Area.
The hike to Delicate Arch is a little challenging and requires hikers to follow the cairns marking the trail to avoid getting lost.
Take your time and be observant. At 3 miles round trip, this hike is well worth the close-up view of the arch!
Say goodbye – for now – to Arches at pristine Panorama Point
Take one last good look at Arches National Park from Panorama Point.
This is the perfect place to reminisce and plan your next Utah adventure — trust me, there will be another one!