Arches National Park is synonymous with drop-dead gorgeous scenery. With its stunning redrock formations and dramatic natural sandstone arches with names like Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Park Avenue, and Fiery Furnace, it’s no wonder millions of visitors flock to Arches National Park every year!
Perhaps the best way to experience Arches is to park the car and get out, to explore on foot all those amazing natural wonders, to meander between and beneath those incredible arches. With trails to match every style and every skill level, Arches provides visitors with plenty of opportunities to leave the throngs of summer crowds behind.
Come along on our own three day journey through Arches. See snapshots of our favorite moments in this extremely popular Utah Mighty 5 National Parks. Learn how we found views all to ourselves despite the summer crowds.
Picturesque Park Avenue
One of the most iconic vistas in Arches is the incredibly picturesque Park Avenue. It’s also one of the first stunning vistas encountered in Arches, and thus one of the most crowded. Or at least the parking lot is! Many will simply park their car, jump out, snap a few photos, perhaps meander a short length down the trail for another photo angle, before moving on.
Indeed, incredible photo opps abound from the parking lot. One can even see The Three Gossips off in the distance. But for those who want to leave the crowds behind and experience the sheer beauty of Park Avenue from a different angle, hike further down the one mile long trail, perhaps all the way to Courthouse Towers. It will be views worth the effort!
Park Avenue trail is fairly easy, descending into a gorgeous canyon on its way to Courthouse Towers. Hikers who don’t have a driver waiting for them at Courthouse Towers will return to Park Avenue along the same picturesque trail. It’s a great way to begin a day in Arches!
Making a Stand Beneath Double Arch
With its easy access along a short and relatively flat trail, Double Arch is a very popular and highly photographed destination in Arches. No wonder! Where else can you stand at the base of not one, but two giant arches at the same time?
As the name implies, Double Arch is just that – two arches that extend out from the same sandstone foundation. And these arches really are giant! Look closely for a perspective of just how large these arches are. Yes, those are people sitting at the base of Double Arch.
As amazing as Double Arch is, it’s not the only site to see along this stretch of road and trail. Plan time to also experience other nearby marvels of Mother Nature, like The Parade of Elephants and Elephant Butte, the Cove of Caves, Turret, Ribbon and Cove Arches. If possible, time your visit for either early morning or early evening to reduce the crowd factor here.
The Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail
Hiking a trail less traveled is a great way to ditch the inevitable summer crowds, and the Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail is just that kind of trail! You’re sure to have plenty of uncrowded views along this incredible back-country trail, including eight unique and dramatic arches that you’ll most likely have all to yourself.
Most visitors to Devil’s Garden end their experience at Landscape Arch. Few venture beyond, where the hiking fun begins, and the crowds diminish. Come prepared for a rough and tumble 7 to 10 mile hike along a very primitive trail, with twists, turns, climbs and descents through terrain sure to challenge even the more seasoned hiker.
But oh the sites and scenery found along the Primitive Trail, making those challenges worth every step, every strenuous effort. There is a true sense of the remoteness out here. Just try getting a cell phone signal! Read more about our adventure at Hiking Into The Devil’s Garden.
Uncrowded Broken Arch Trail
Located not far from the Devil’s Garden area is another less crowded, fairly easy 2 mile loop leading hikers to Broken Arch. Despite the name, Broken Arch actually isn’t broken though! But it is beginning to wear thin along the top of the arch.
The trail passes through fin canyons, across sandy dunes, and along sliprock on it’s path to Broken Arch and back. Perhaps one of the most fun aspects of this hike is how the trail passes right through Broken Arch, providing incomparable views of both sides of the arch.
Don’t forget to stop for that awesome, uncrowded photo opp of standing beneath the arch! Plan about an hour for this experience, and pack plenty of water. There’s not much shade to escape the afternoon sun, and no water source once you head down the trail.
Extend the experience by taking the side trails to Tapestry Arch and Sand Dune Arch. Neither arch is far off the main trail. Though as the name suggests, Sand Dune Arch does have its own challenge in the form of desert sand!
Up Close with Iconic Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch is quite possibly the most iconic of all the natural wonders in Arches National Park, and probably the most recognizable. To fully experience this incredible feat of Mother Nature, don’t settle for a parking lot overview at Delicate Arch Viewpoint, though. You’ll only get a far-off canyon-rim view of the arch!
Instead, seek out Wolfe Ranch, where the 3 mile round-trip trail for an up-close Delicate Arch experience begins. Though mildly challenging at times, this is the best way to comprehend just how big Delicate Arch is, and how delicately balanced upon the edge it stands. You’ll leave wondering just how did Mother Nature accomplish this?
Enjoy the views as the Delicate Arch trail crosses stretches of sliprock and hugs the edge of a long rock ledge. Don’t miss Wolfe Ranch and the Ute Petroglyphs, where depictions of bighorn sheep, horses and dogs were left behind by ancient residents of this area.
The Delicate Arch hiking trail is by far one of the most popular trails in the park. These trails get crowded, and you may have to wait in line for a close-up with the Arch. Or you might not even be able to park your car at the trailhead parking lot! Time your hike accordingly.
Have You Been To Arches National Park?
By far, our most favorite experience in Arches National Park was the Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail hike. There was just something so incredible, so unique, so special about these four hours hiking this back country trail. For us, the crowds at Delicate Arch and Park Avenue diminished the experiences at these sites. If we were to experience Arches again, we would plan our times at these two iconic sites differently.
How about you? Have you been to Arches National Park? What was your most favorite moment? Do you have a tip to avoid the summer crowds? Do share!
Catch the rest of the Series – Photos of A Family Road Trip Adventure:
- Road Tripping in Colorado and Utah – Photos of a Family Adventure
- Exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado.
- A Fascinating Experience at Aztec Ruins National Monument, NM
- Welcome to The Iconic Four Corners Monument, USA!
- Mesa Verde National Park – Snapshots of an Amazing, Enlightening Experience
- Inside The Oak Tree House Cliff Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park
- Inside Animus Forks – A Colorado Mining Ghost Town Experience
- A Day of Experiences in Canyon of the Ancients and Hovenweep National Monuments
- Hiking Into the Devil’s Garden – Arches National Park Utah
- Exploring Dinosaur Footprints & Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah
- Exploring Sego Canyon’s Ancient Rock Art & Historic Ghost Town
All photos by C.Biederman