26 Best Sights in Arches National Park, Utah

Arches Main Park Road

Fodor's choice

The main park road and its two short spurs are extremely scenic and allow you to enjoy many park sights from your car. The main road leads through The Courthouse Towers, where you can see Sheep Rock and The Three Gossips, then alongside The Great Wall, The Petrified Dunes, and Balanced Rock. A drive to the Windows section takes you to attractions like Turret Arch, The North Window, and Double Arch, and you can see Skyline Arch along the roadside as you approach the Devils Garden Campground. The road to Delicate Arch allows hiking access to one of the park's main features. Allow about two hours to drive the 45-mile round-trip, more if you explore the spurs and their features and stop at viewpoints along the way.

Delicate Arch Trail

Fodor's choice

To see the park's most famous freestanding arch up close takes effort and won't offer you much solitude—but it's worth every step. The 3-mile round-trip trail ascends via steep slickrock, sandy paths, and along one narrow ledge (at the very end) that might give pause to anyone afraid of heights. Plus, there's almost no shade. First-timers should start early to avoid the midday heat in summer. Still, at sunrise, sunset, and every hour in between, it's the park's busiest trail. Bring plenty of water, especially in the warmer months, as heatstroke and dehydration are very real possibilities. Allow two to three hours, depending on your fitness level and how long you care to linger at the arch. If you go at sunset or sunrise, bring a headlamp or flashlight. Don't miss Wolfe Ranch and some ancient rock art near the trailhead. Moderate–Difficult.

Devils Garden

Fodor's choice

There are grills, water, picnic tables, and restrooms here and, depending on the time of day, some shade from junipers and rock walls. It's a good place for lunch before or after a hike.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Devils Garden Trail

Fodor's choice

Landscape Arch is a highlight of this trail but is just one of several arches within reach, depending on your ambitions. It's an easy 0.9-mile one-way (mostly gravel, relatively flat) trip to Landscape Arch, one of the longest stone spans in the world. Beyond Landscape Arch the scenery changes dramatically and the hike becomes more strenuous as you must climb and straddle slickrock fins and negotiate some short, steep inclines. Finally, around a sharp bend, the stacked spans that compose Double O Arch come suddenly into view. Allow up to three hours for this round-trip hike of just over 4 miles.

For a still longer (about a 7-mile round-trip) and more rigorous trek, venture on to see a formation called Dark Angel and then return to the trailhead on the primitive loop, making the short side hike to Private Arch. The hike to Dark Angel is a difficult route through fins. Other possible (and worthwhile) detours lead to Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Tunnel Arch, and Pine Tree Arch. Allow about five hours for this adventure, take plenty of water, and watch your route carefully. Pick up the park's useful guide to Devils Garden, or download it from the website before you go. Moderate–Difficult.

John Wesley Powell River History Museum

Fodor's choice

Learn what it was like to travel down the Green and Colorado Rivers in the 1800s in wooden boats. A series of displays tracks the Powell Party's arduous, dangerous 1869 journey, and visitors can watch the award-winning film Journey Into the Unknown for a cinematic taste of the white-water adventure. The center also houses the River Runner's Hall of Fame, a tribute to those who have followed in Powell's wake. River-theme art occupies a gallery, and there's a dinosaur exhibit on the lower level.

Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway—Highway 128

Fodor's choice
Scenic Highway 128, Colorado River, Moab, Utah
welcomia / Shutterstock

One of the most scenic drives in the Four Corners region, Highway 128 intersects U.S. 191, 3 miles south of Arches. The 44-mile highway runs along the upper Colorado River, with 2,000-foot red rock cliffs rising on both sides. This gorgeous river corridor is home to a winery, orchards, and a couple of luxury lodging options. It also offers a spectacular view of world-class climbing destination Fisher Towers before winding north to Interstate 70. Give yourself an hour to 90 minutes to drive it, though be aware that traffic can get congested in the summer. For the full experience, go through the ghost town of Cisco by taking Exit 214 if you're heading east on I–70 and stop by the delightful Buzzard's Belly General Store. Full of snacks, soda, art, and fun knickknacks, it's an off-beat take on a general store, and you'll likely want to take some pictures to show your friends.

Arches Visitor Center

With well-designed hands-on exhibits about the park's geology, wildlife, and history, helpful rangers, a water station, and a bookstore, the center is a great way to start your park visit. It also has picnic tables and something that's rare in the park: cell service for many carriers.

Arches Visitor Center Bookstore

Operated by Canyonlands Natural History Association, this bookstore at the park entrance is the place in the park to buy maps, guidebooks, driving tours on CD, and material about the park's natural and cultural history.

N. U.S. 191, Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA
435-259–6003

Balanced Rock Picnic Area

The view is the best part of this picnic spot opposite Balanced Rock parking area. There's no water, but there are tables. If you sit just right you might find some shade under a small juniper; otherwise, this is an exposed site. Pit toilets are nearby.

Balanced Rock Trail

You'll want to stop at Balanced Rock for photo ops, so you may as well walk the easy, partially paved trail around the famous landmark. This is one of the most accessible trails in the park and is suitable even for small children. The 15-minute stroll is only about ⅓ mile round-trip. Easy.

Broken Arch Trail

An easy walk across open grassland, this loop trail passes Broken Arch, which is also visible from the road. The arch gets its name because it appears to be cracked in the middle, but it's not really broken. The trail is 1¼ miles round-trip, but you can extend your adventure to about 2 miles round-trip by continuing north past Tapestry Arch and through the Devils Garden Campground. Easy.

Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA

Courthouse Wash Panel

Although this rock-art panel fell victim to an unusual case of vandalism in 1980, when someone scoured the petroglyphs and pictographs that had been left by four cultures, you can still see ancient images if you take a short walk from the parking area on the left-hand side of the road, heading south. At less than a mile out and back, this makes for a good hike for families.

Double Arch

In the Windows section of the park, 11¾ miles from the park entrance, Double Arch has appeared in several Hollywood movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. From the parking lot you can also take the short and easy Windows Trail to view The North Window, The South Window, and Turret Arch.

Double Arch Trail

If it's not too hot, it's a simple walk to here from the Windows Trail. This relatively flat trek leads to two massive arches that make for great photo opportunities. The ½-mile round-trip gives you a good taste of desert flora and fauna. Easy.

Fiery Furnace Trail

This area of the park has taken on a near-mythical lure for park visitors, who are drawn to challenging yet breathtaking terrain. Rangers strongly discourage inexperienced hikers from entering here—in fact, you can't enter without watching a video about how to help protect this very special section of the park and obtaining a permit ($10). Reservations can be made up to six months in advance to get a spot on the 2-mile round-trip ranger-led hikes ($16), offered mid-April–September, through this unique formation. A hike through these rugged rocks and sandy washes is tiring but fascinating. Hikers will need to use their hands at times to scramble up and through narrow cracks and along vertigo-inducing ledges above drop-offs, and there are no trail markings. If you're not familiar with The Furnace, you can easily get lost or cause damage, so watch your step and use great caution. The less intrepid can view The Fiery Furnace from the overlook off the main road. Difficult.

Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA

Junior Ranger Program

Kids of all ages can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the visitor center. It's full of activities, word games, drawings, and thought-provoking material about the park and the wildlife. To earn your Junior Ranger badge, you must complete several activities in the booklet, attend a ranger program, or watch the park film and pick up some trash in the park.

Arches National Park, UT, USA

Landscape Arch Trail

This natural rock opening, which measures 306 feet from base to base and looks like a delicate ribbon of rock bending over the horizon, is the longest geologic span in North America. In 1991, a slab of rock about 60 feet long, 11 feet wide, and 4 feet thick fell from the underside, leaving it even thinner. You reach it via a rolling, gravel, 1.8-mile-long trail. Easy–Moderate.

Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA

Moab Museum

This small, centrally located museum focuses on the people, places, and events that have shaped the canyon country around Moab and Grand County. Exhibits feature everyone from indigenous peoples to Euro-American prospectors, ranchers, and farmers. There's also a big emphasis on mining history as this area was once the "Uranium Capital of America" before the local outdoor recreation boom.

Park Avenue Trail

The first named trail that park visitors encounter, this is a relatively easy, 1.8-mile round-trip walk (with only one small hill but a somewhat steep descent into the canyon) amid walls and towers that vaguely resemble a New York City skyline. You'll walk under the gaze of Queen Nefertiti, a giant rock formation that some observers think has Egyptian-looking features. If you are traveling with companions, make it a one-way, 1-mile downhill trek by having them pick you up at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint. Allow about 45 minutes for the one-way journey. Easy–Moderate.

Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA

Petrified Dunes

Just a tiny pull-out, this memorable stop features acres upon acres of reddish-gold, petrified sand dunes. There's no trail here, so roam as you like while keeping track of where you are. If you do lose your way, heading west will take you back to the main road.

Red Rock Explorer Pack

Families can check out a youth backpack filled with tools for learning about both Arches and Canyonlands national parks. A guide for naturalists, a three-ring binder of activities, hand lens magnifier, and binoculars are just some of the loaner items. Backpacks can be returned to either Arches or Island in the Sky visitor center. Use of the backpack is free.

Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA

Sand Dune Arch Trail

You may return to the car with shoes full of bright-red sand from this giant sandbox in the desert—it's fun exploring in and around the rock. Set aside five minutes for this shady, 530-yard walk and plenty of time if you have kids, who will love playing amid this dramatic landscape. Never climb on this or any other arch in the park, no matter how tempting—it's illegal, and it could lead to damage to the fragile geology or even someone getting hurt. The trail intersects with the Broken Arch Trail—you can visit both arches with an easy 1.2-mile round-trip walk. Easy.

Skyline Arch

A quick walk from the parking lot at Skyline Arch, 16½ miles from the park entrance, gives you closer views and better photos. The short trail is less than a ½ mile round-trip and takes only a few minutes to travel. Mostly flat, this is an especially great hike for little kids or people whose mobility issues keep them from longer treks, though you should still be cautious of uneven ground.

The Windows Trail

An early stop for many visitors to the park, a trek through The Windows gives you an opportunity to get out and enjoy the desert air. Here you'll see three giant openings in the rock and walk on a trail that leads right through the holes. Allow about an hour on this gently inclined, 1-mile round-trip hike. As most visitors don't follow the "primitive" trail around the backside of the two windows, take advantage if you want some desert solitude. The primitive trail adds an extra half-hour to the hike. Easy.

Tower Arch Trail

Check with park rangers before attempting the dirt road through Salt Valley to the Klondike Bluffs parking area. If rains haven't washed out the road, a trip to this seldom-visited area provides a solitude-filled hike culminating in a giant rock opening. Allow from two to three hours for this 2.6-mile round-trip hike, not including the drive. Moderate.

Arches National Park, UT, 84532, USA

Wolfe Ranch

Civil War veteran John Wesley Wolfe and his son started a small ranch here in 1888. He added a cabin in 1906 when his daughter Esther and her family came west to live. Built out of Fremont cottonwoods, the rustic one-room cabin still stands on the site. Look for remains of a root cellar and a corral as well. Even older than these structures is the nearby Ute rock-art panel by the Delicate Arch trailhead. About 150 feet past the footbridge and before the trail starts to climb, you can see images of bighorn sheep and figures on horseback, as well as some smaller images believed to be dogs.