Arches National Park in One Day: One Epic Itineray
Home to 2,000 natural sandstone arches, staggering pinnacles, and red-rock formations, you must be heading to none other than Arches National Park. If you’re looking to conquer Arches National Park in one day, we have a fantastic list of things to do for your one day in Arches National park.
From the best hikes to do in Arches National Park to the must-see sites and an unforgettable one day itinerary, get it all below.
One Day in Arches National Park
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Where Is Arches National Park
First things first, where exactly is Arches National park? Located just north of Moab in central-eastern Utah, you’ll find the entrance to Arches National Park. From Moab, you can easily access the park by cycling or driving the 5 miles to its entrance.
Unfortunately, if you were planning to zip on by and check out the park from the road, meh, that won’t really be an option. Unlike Monument Valley, you’re unable to really see Arches National Park from the road. So if you want a proper visit, you’re going to have to enter the park.
Check Out: The Ultimate Utah Road Trip
Getting To Arches National Park
Alright, now that you know where Arches National Park is, let’s talk about getting there. The closest airports to Arches National Park reside several hours away.
- Grand Junction Colorado Regional Airport: A 1.5-hour drive to the park.
- Salt Lake City International Airport: A 3.5-hour drive to the park
- Denver International Airport: A 5 hour and 45-minute drive to the park
- Las Vegas International Airport: A 6.5-hour drive to the park
Whichever airport you decide to fly into, you’ll need to rent a car, van or RV in order to drive the several-hour journey to Moab and Arches National Park.
Best Time To Visit Arches National Park
Spring and Fall are the best times to visit Arches National Park. Think April through May and September through October. Why? Two reasons 1) fewer tourists 2) cooler temperatures.
Wanting to visit during the Summer and Winter months? No problem. While visiting the park is completely doable during the summer months (June – August), be prepared for more crowds and temperatures in the 90s and low 100s.
Whereas in winter, it’s the complete opposite. During the Winter months (November – February) you can expect minimal crowds, colder to freezing temps (dress warmly), and less daylight, which means less time to explore.
Check Out our Perfect 2-3 Day Moab Itinerary here!
The Best Things To Do In Arches National Park In One Day
Ok, so you have one day in Arches National Park, and you better believe we’re going to help you make the most of it. Our below itinerary has you starting at the front of the park, taking the scenic drive to the back of the park where you’ll be catching an epic sunset. So, let’s get to it, shall we?!
Start With Breakfast At Moab Garage Co.
Rise and shine! Your goal should be getting to the Arches National park by 8:00am. But before you do, you can’t set out for a full day of exploring without coffee and breakfast! Located in the town of Moab, you’ll find an exceptional breakfast cafe called Moab Garage Co.
Grab a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. Your choice to sit down and eat at Garage Co. or eat on your way to Arches.
Head into The Park & Drive Arches National Park Scenic Drive
After a short 10-minute drive from Moab Garage Co, you’ll find yourself at the entrance to Arches National Park. Pay your entrance fee and vualá, we’d like to officially welcome you to Arches National Park!
From here, just go forward (literally) and you’re on the Arches National Park Scenic Drive. With the park entrance behind you, the park really begins to open up. Red, towering rock formations as far as the eye can see. Really, it’s incredible.
For the rest of your day, you’ll be using the scenic drive as your gateway to access amazing places in the park. You’ll pass by Park Avenue trailhead, Three Gossips Arches, Courthouse Towers, Sheep Rock, and Tower of Babel…just to name of few, as you make your way to your first stop, Balanced Rock.
Stop 1: Make a Pit Stop at Balanced Rock
Located just off the scenic drive, you’ll find Balanced Rock. Balanced Rock is, you guessed it, a balancing rock, but it’s much more impressive than its name portrays. At the top of a slender formation you’ll find a giant teetering rock standing 128 ft (39 m) tall.
Balanced Rock can be seen from the park road, or put your vehicle in park and walk the 0.3 mi (0.5 km) roundtrip loop around Balanced Rock to see it from all angles.
Trail Length: 0.3 mi (0.5 km) loop | Difficulty: Easy
Stop 2: Hike to The Windows Arch
After you’ve had your fill of Balanced Rock, your on your way to your next location – The Windows Trailhead. Jump in your car and a short way you’ll come to “The Windows Road”, make a right. Take The Window Road till it dead ends into two trailheads, one of which is The Windows Trail.
From this trail, you’ll see the famous North and South Window Arch and the Turret Arch.
Trail Length: 1 mi (1.6km) loop | Difficulty: Easy
Stop 3: Explore The Beautiful Double Arch
Located just across the parking lot from the Window Trailhead, or “over the way” as we Midwesterners like to call it, you’ll find Double Arch Trailhead. Double Head Trailhead is one of our favorites in the park. It’s short, and sweet but offers such great views and different vantage points.
The trail will take you right up the famous Double Arch (featured in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade) where you can take a rest under the massive arches and soak in the day. In our opinion, this is a must-see when visiting Arches National Park.
Trail Length: 0.5 mi (0.8 km) loop | Difficulty: Easy
TIP: If you’re super tight on time and have a half day, we suggest focusing on The Double Arch Trailhead and The Windows Trailhead as they are close together and you can see some of the top sights in Arches National Park.
Stop 4: Stop For Lunch At Devil’s Campground
Are you getting hungry yet? After a few hours of hiking and exploring, we bet you are. This next part is totally up to you but you have a few options when it comes to lunch.
- Make your way to Devil’s Campground to get a picnic table
- Pull over in any pullout that suits you on your way to The Devils Garden Trailhead
Wherever you choose to eat your lunch, one thing is for certain, you’ll need to bring your own food or head back into Moab for lunch. There are no restaurants in Arches National Park. In an effort to make the most of your day in Arches, we suggest staying in the park for lunch. Plan to pack a cooler with some fruit, sandwiches, and cold beverages and have yourself a nice little picnic in the park.
Stop 5: Explore The Devils Garden Primitive Loop
After lunch, make your way to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead. The Devil’s Garden Trail has a variety of trail options for every kind of hiker, but make no mistake, this is definitely one of the best hikes in the park. The popular reason to hike this trail is to see the Landscape Arch.
The Landscape Arch is the longest arch in North America measuring in at 306 feet (93.3 meters). Also accessible from The Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop you can see Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch Dark Angel Arch, and Double O Arch. Understand why this loop is popular. You see a load of amazing arches!
- Hiking to Landscape Arch | Trail Length: 1.9 mi (3.1 km) roundtrip | Difficulty: Easy
- Hiking to Double O Arch | Trail Length: 4.1 mi (6.6 km) roundtrip | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Hiking The Primitive Trail Loop | Trail Length: 7.2 mi (11.6 km) roundtrip | Difficulty: Hard
If you’re worried about time or, are a slow hiker, we suggest skipping the full loop and concentrating on hiking to Landscape Arch or Double O Arch instead. If you want to tackle the full Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail Loop, you can estimate it to take anywhere from 3-4 hours. Oh, and make sure you have plenty of water 🙂
Stop 6: Experience Delicate Arch at Sunset
After exploring Devil’s Garden you’ll start making your way back to the entrance of the park via the scenic drive. The last stop on your Arches National Park in one day visit is Delicate Arch, the most popular arch in Arches National Park. From the main road, you’ll turn onto Delicate Arch Road where you’ll have two options to see Delicate Arch, hiking the trail or two viewpoints.
If you’re feeling a little tired and/or are limited on time, you’ll want to consider visiting the viewpoints rather than doing the hike. Lower Delicate Arch viewpoint is a flat, 100-yard walk that allows you to see Delicate Arch from one mile away. The second viewpoint is the Upper Delicate Arch viewpoint which is a 0.5 mi walk with a steeper climb. The upper viewpoint offers a slightly better view of Delicate Arch than the lower viewpoint.
If you have the extra energy, and time and want to see the best views of Delicate Arch, the Delicate Arch Trail is for you. The Delicate Arch trail hike is a 3-mile (4.8 km) roundtrip hike that climbs up 480 ft. The hike is considered moderate to difficult as there is no shade (so it gets super hot in the summer) and you have to climb up steep slopes. If you choose to hike, estimate it to take around 2-3 hours.
Trail Length: 3 miles | Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
The best time to see Delicate Arch is at sunset, just be prepared for loads of crowds. If crowds aren’t your thing, we suggest getting to the park early and seeing Delicate Arch at sunrise instead.
Stop 7: Stargaze in Arches National Park at Night
Now, stop 7 is completely up to you. If you’re exhausted from your day of fun, we totally get it. If you’re thinking, nah, I have some more in me, GREAT! After sunset, plan to head back into Moab for some dinner at either Moab Food Truck Park or Sunset Grill. Once you’ve had your fill and a little rest, head back into the park once it’s dark.
Arches National Park is a certified Dark Sky Park which makes it excellent for seeing the stars. Below are just a few popular points where you can go stargazing.
- Balanced Rock Picnic Area
- The Windows Section
- Garden of Eden Viewpoint
- Panorama Point
If you want to take it to the next level, consider booking an Arches National Park night photography tour to capture the amazing night sky you’re sure to see.
TIP: Make sure the sky is clear of clouds and clear of the bright and shiny moon. These two conditions will make it difficult to see the stars at Arches. Oh, and make sure you have a headlamp with you so you’re able to see.
Tips & Good To Knows For Visiting Arches:
- Arches National Park Entrance Fee: $15 for hikers & bikers | $25 for vehicles | $35 for commercial vehicles
- Arches National Park Entrance Hours: Open year-round, 24 hours a day
- Bring Your Own Food & Water: There are no restaurants in the park
- Is Arches National Park Dog Friendly: Yes, but limited access. Pets are not allowed on any trails or at any overlooks.
- Facilities: No gas stations are in the park so fill up in Moab. Bathrooms can be found at the Visitor Center and popular/select trailheads.
- Visitor Center Hours of Operation: Hours vary but generally the Visitor Center is open from 8am/9am – 5pm.
Your Arches entrance fee is good for seven days and allows you to come and go as you please during those seven days. If you are exploring other National Parks during your visit, consider purchasing the National Parks pass.
Getting Around Arches National Park
Unlike other National Parks in the country, like Zion, there are no shuttles that take you into and through the park. In order to get to Arches and explore, you’ll need to have a vehicle rented like a car, RV or van. While a car is definitely the best way to get around Arches, exploring the park by bicycle is also another option.
A third option is taking a tour from Moab like Arches National Park 4×4 Adventure or an Arches National Park Air tour.
Where To Stay In Arches National Park
First, understand that there are no hotels within Arches National Park so if you are wanting to stay within the park, you’ll need to camp. If you’re looking for hotel accommodations or an RV Park, you’ll need to set your sights on the town of Moab.
Arches National Park Camping
There is only one campsite within Arches National Park and that’s Devils Garden Campground. It’s highly, highly, highly recommended to make reservations in advance of your visit. If you’re looking to stay at Devil’s Garden Campground you can make reservations between March 1st through October 31st.
If you’re unable to secure a reservation, but still would like to camp, there are loads of other first-come, first-serve campgrounds near Moab.
Arches National Park Glamping
If you’re looking for a unique camping experience around Arches National Park, consider glamping! For those of you who don’t know what glamping is, well it’s glamorous camping.
- Under Canvas Moab
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- FunStays Glamping Setup
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Arches National Park RV Camping
If you have an RV or travel trailer, there are a handful of RV sites that offer full hookups in and around Moab. A few popular RV parks are below…
Where To Stay in Moab, Utah
- The Luxury Inclined | Hoodoo Moab
- The Budget Conscious | Rustic Inn
- Something in Between | Moab Springs Ranch
For more places to stay in Moab, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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