Although it is a small national park, Arches National Park in Utah packs an incredible number of sights in. The iconic arches and other breathtaking formations in the red sandstone of the park make it a must-see destination. But what are the best hikes in Arches National Park?
The nine best and most scenic hikes in Arches National Park are:
- Delicate Arch
- Devils Garden, Landscape, Double O and Primitive
- Park Avenue
- Double Arch and Windows Loop
- Fiery Furnace
- Balanced Rock Loop
- Tower Arch
- Skyline Arch
- Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch
Although you can see some of the arches and other formations in Arches National Park from your vehicle, you should hike to see most of the best sights. We give you the best hikes in the park, varying in difficulty and length. There’s a hike for everyone in Arches National Park.
1. Delicate Arch
The park’s most iconic feature, Delicate Arch, is free-standing against the skyline, towering overhead if you stand under it. But you will only stand under it if you hike to it, a 3-mile round trip that takes 2.5 to 3 hours.
From Wolfe Ranch trailhead, where you can see the remains of the ranch built by the earliest Caucasian inhabitants of the area, the gravel trail heads to a slickrock climb. Follow the cairns as the trail steadily climbs and then levels out.
The last 200 yards of this trail are along a narrow rock ledge before you turn a corner and see the amphitheater with Delicate Arch soaring upward on the far side.
On the way back, take the 0.2-mile spur trail on the flat to view the Ute Indian petroglyphs.
The trail is rated difficult, mainly because of the sun exposure. It is extremely popular and crowded unless you go in winter. We recommend avoiding summer due to temperatures going over 100 degrees.
2. Devils Garden
The Devils Garden section of the park offers you the option of doing only the first section to Landscape Arch or going on to Double O Arch. You can also choose whether you will return the way you came or come back on the Primitive Trail.
Landscape Arch At Devils Garden
Park at the trailhead at the end of Devils Garden Road, and set out along a reasonably flat, gravel trail between sandstone fins. This section is rated easy and is wheelchair accessible with assistance on the few steeper slopes.
This section is 1.9 miles long and will take approximately 50 minutes, not including the spur trails to Tunnel and Pine Tree arches which are 0.5 miles in total and will take around 20 minutes.
The trail finishes at Landscape Arch: a spectacular, long, and thin arch that stretches 306 feet.
A portion of this arch fell in 1991, and this is one to see before it collapses entirely.
Double O Arch At Devils Garden
Beyond Landscape Arch, the Devils Garden becomes difficult as it ascends over sandstone fins and along narrow ledges with drop-offs. In places, you will have to scramble over the slickrock. The scenery is fantastic, though, and the trail is uncrowded.
Spur trails that add up to 0.8 miles lead to Partition and Navajo arches and will take you approximately 30 minutes.
Make the 2-minute detour to Black Arch overview for some spectacular views.
After some more scrambling, you will arrive at Double O Arch, which has two arches, one under the other.
You can continue the 0.8 miles to Dark Angel, but it isn’t as worthwhile as the other sights on this trail, so you can skip it if you are pressed for time.
The park rates this 7.8-mile alternative route between Double O Arch and Landscape Arch as difficult as you must scramble over slickrock and hike across sandy fins on a poorly marked trail. You will see some of the best scenery in the park.
Take the spur trail to Private Arch: it is a small, secluded arch, and you may have it to yourself. The Primitive Trail will take around 4 hours, longer if you get lost and follow one of the false trails created by other lost hikers. We recommend using the trail guide and a GPS device.
3. Park Avenue
The 2-mile Park Avenue trail is rated moderate and will take approximately 1.5 hours. On this hike, you will not see arches. Instead, you will be treated to a view of a spectacular canyon with soaring cliffs and spires that resemble skyscrapers. Follow the trail to Courthouse Towers.
You will also see rock formations such as The Organ, Queen Nefertiti, Three Gossips, and Sheep Rock.
You can return via shuttle, hiking along the park road, or retracing your steps along the trail.
4. Double Arch and Windows Loop
These two easy hikes are close to each other and are often down together.
The 0.5-mile trail to Double Arch is gravel-surfaced and primarily flat, leading to the base of two giant arches connected at one end. Wheelchair users may be able to use this trail with assistance.
This hike is well suited for families with young kids. If you are up for it, you can scramble up boulders under the arches to look up at them and out through them.
The 1-mile trail to The Windows involves a gently climbing gravel trail and stone steps to Turret Arch, North Window, and South Window. Return along the same route or take a slightly longer primitive trail from the South Window viewpoint.
While you’re in this section of the park, you can also explore Turret Arch, Cove Arch, Ribbon Arch, Parade of Elephants, Elephant Butte, and the Cove of Caves.
5. Fiery Furnace
Despite being rated difficult and having no trail, the Fiery Furnace is highly popular. It is a maze of narrow sandstone canyons between fins and spires. To enter, you will either have to obtain a day-use permit through recreation.gov or join a ranger-guided hike.
The park encourages the latter, as it reduces impacts on the fragile ecosystem and prevents you from getting lost in the labyrinth.
6. Balanced Rock Loop
This easy 0.3-mile loop trail will only take you about 20 minutes. The beginning is paved and wheelchair-accessible, ending at a viewpoint showing The Windows and the La Sal Mountains.
The trail continues around Balanced Rock, a massive sandstone boulder perched precariously atop its pedestal, held on by a bit of mudstone.
The best time to visit is sunset. Thanks to the dark skies, it is also suited for stargazing and night photography.
7. Tower Arch
The 2.6 miles to Tower Arch are rated as difficult, with an estimated hiking time of 2.5 hours. The trail climbs steeply before cutting across a valley and wandering among sand dunes and sandstone fins to Tower Arch.
Tower Arch is a fin that has eroded into a 92 feet wide arch, with a large tower of rock sticking up at one end. You’ll also see the Marching Men, a row of tall, thin towers sticking up from a giant fin of eroding sandstone.
This trail is a good option for getting some solitude, with the arch being hidden away behind Klondike Bluffs.
8. Skyline Arch
The 0.4 miles to Skyline Arch are rated easy and will only take 10 to 20 minutes. The trail is flat and well-defined. Skyline Arch is set on a rise against the sky, hence its name. It affords excellent sunset photo opportunities.
It wasn’t always its present size. In November 1940, a massive chunk of rock fell from the inside of the arch, doubling the size of its opening.
9. Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch
These two easy hikes are nearby and often done together. Begin at the Sand Dune Arch parking area near Devils Garden.
A 0.3 mile, 20-minute hike brings you to a secluded arch with deep sand (Sand Dune Arch) and plenty of shade. It is a good option for families.
You will cross a large meadow, head to the campground, and wander between fins with slickrock and sand dunes if you head out on the Broken Arch Loop. This trail is 2 miles long and takes around 60 minutes.
It brings you to Tapestry Arch, set in a slot canyon, and Broken Arch.
Despite its name, Broken Arch isn’t broken, just wearing through.
Arches National Park packs a lot into a small compass, and you will find a trail or three to suit you, no matter your level of ability. We highly recommend taking a day or two to see all the sights you can in this impressive chunk of land.
Drink plenty of water and wear protection against the sun. It’s a desert landscape. Wear good hiking shoes – you don’t want to land up with a twisted ankle. And remember to hike responsibly. Happy hiking in Utah.