Arches Basics

Arches National Park is one of the most popular parks in the United States. It’s located in southeastern Utah just outside of Moab. The unique rock formations and natural stone arches found throughout the park and the rugged landscape make it a desert wonderland.

I spent one full day at Arches. It would have been enough to cover everything I wanted to see, but our group made two mistakes: we got a late start and we lost two hours for lunch. We still were able to do almost everything minus two hikes I had planned.

Arches is not a big park. If you’re ok with skipping the long hikes, you can see the whole park in a full day. If your time is limited, you can cover a lot in just a half day.

 

Visitor Center

There’s one visitor center at the park. It’s located just past the entrance gate and is open year-round. There are interpretive displays about the park and a water bottle station.

Visitor center at Arches National Park, Utah

Visitor center

 

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee to Arches is US$25 per vehicle (as of November 2016) and is good for seven days. It’s covered by all of the interagency passes. Hiking permits or ranger guided hikes at the Fiery Furnace are not covered. The park is open year-round.

 

Camping

There’s just one individual campground at Arches. Devil’s Garden Campground must be reserved in advance from March 1 to October 31. Between November 1 and February 28, some sites are first come first served. Click here to reserve and for information on camping fees.

Because all of the campsites at Arches were booked well in advance of our trip, we camped at one of the countless campgrounds in Moab just a short drive away. We used Moab as our base for both Arches and the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district as well as Dead Horse Point State Park.

 

Activities

Rock climbing, stargazing, photography, biking, horseback riding, and other outdoor activities are available. Check the official website for more information on these activities. Information about ranger guided programs can be found at the visitor center.

 

Safety

My only advice is to take plenty of water and use sunscreen. The heat can be brutal, especially at mid-day. Fill up your water bottles at the visitor center and make sure you have enough with you before hiking.

 

Parking

Parking is extremely limited at most areas of the park. For us, finding a spot at the Windows Section was a nightmare. We followed about 20 other cars and parked illegally in a tow zone. Everywhere else, it wasn’t nearly as bad. To avoid traffic, go as early as possible (something we unfortunately didn’t do).

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