Arches National Park Hiking: Trails for the Whole Family
Arches National Park is one of the most famous National Parks in the US National Park System. It has over 2,000 iconic rock arches and hiking trails for all levels and abilities. We’ve put together a family guide to Arches National Park Hiking- with mileage and tips for each trail.
We visited Arches National Park on our Epic Cross-Country Road Trip as part of our Family Year Out when our kids were 4 and 7.
Arches is one of the Utah “Mighty Five” National Parks, and makes a great addition to a family road trip itinerary!
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What is Arches National Park Known For?
With over 2000 documented arches in the park, Arches National Park is known for having the highest concentration of natural stone arches anywhere in the world.
The most famous arch is Delicate Arch, which is 18 meters high and is featured on the Utah License plate. Interestingly, this arch was not even part of the park when it was initially designated a United States National Monument in 1929 and was only added when the park was expanded in 1938.
Don’t Miss: The Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
Arches National Park Hiking Trails
One of the great things about Arches National Park is that many of the most famous arches are within easy walking or hiking distance from roads, making them very accessible and kid-friendly.
If fact, many of the trails at Arches fall into the “easy” category, which means you can do several shorter hikes one after the other.
Navigating Arches National Park
When you enter the park, there is one main road that runs 18 miles, then does a turnaround at Devil’s Garden Trailhead. As you drive along, note the many monuments and viewpoints that are marked along the driving route.
Pull off at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint to spot balanced rocks, and named features such as “The Organ” and “The Tower of Babel”.
The first intersection will be on your right- here the road branches into the Windows Section of the park.
Farther along the main road is a second road off to your right, leading to Delicate Arch.
At the top of the road, you’ll find the Devils Garden Trailhead, as well as the Devils Garden Campground, the only campground in the park.
Because there is one main road, navigating through Arches National Park is quite easy. There is parking at each viewpoint, and at each marked trailhead. You will find a large parking lot at the end of the road for Delicate Arch.
For each trail below, we’ve indicated which section of the park, to allow you to locate it on the map more easily and plan a route that makes sense based on your driving route.
Easy Trails in Arches National Park
These easy trails are 2 miles or less round-trip, with a great pay-off at the end. If you are a more advanced hiker, don’t write off these hikes, they have some of the best arches and viewpoints in the park.
Park Avenue Trail
2.0 miles round trip.
This is one of the first main pull offs once you enter the park and is a one-mile trail that wanders along a valley floor below a number of monuments. You’ll see mostly spires, towers, and pinnacles.
This is the first viewpoint and trailhead that you’ll see after passing the visitor center.
Sand Dune Arch
0.4 miles round trip. *Editors Choice Favorite Trail
This is a great first hike for young kids. It is a short hike that ends with traversing deep sand to find a hidden arch among sandstone walls. This hike is a family favorite. It feels different from the other hikes in the park and leads to a great arch.
This trailhead is on the main road, after the turn-off to Delicate Arch, about halfway to Devils Garden. This same trailhead also includes Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch, so they make sense to do together, without moving your car.
1.2 miles round trip from Sand Dune Arch Trail Head.
From the Sand Dune Trailhead, hike across grasslands and desert to find an arch that isn’t actually broken. After hiking to Sand Dune Arch, this is an easy add-on.
This is a really fun arch- you can scramble up inside the arch for pictures with the arch above and the sky beyond.
Broken Arch gets its name from the cracks and folds of the rock in its center. It is actually a complete arch and one that you can climb into.
0.6 miles round trip from Devils Garden Campground.
2.7 miles if you do the full loop from Sand Dunes Trailhead.
This is a quick out-and-back hike on the Broken Arch Trail if you start from the Devils Garden Campground. Halfway out and you will follow the trail to your left. This is usually an add-on to hiking the whole of the Broken Arch Trail.
You can also do this as an extension of Broken Arch, looping back around to the Sand Dunes Trailhead. The full loop is 2.7 miles, which turns this into a “moderate” hike, especially is you are dealing with scorching summer temperatures.
0.4 miles round trip.
This is an easy out-and-back walk that only takes about ten minutes. Just off the main park road above the Sand Dune Trailhead, you will see where you can pull off the road.
This is a mostly flat trail though there are a few steps at the beginning.
This arch is high on a wall. Check out the trail sign for old pictures of this arch- a large chunk of rock fell out of the arch in 1940, doubling the size of the arch and making it much more dramatic.
Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch
1.0 miles round trip, From Devil’s Garden Trailhead
Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch are both located on a short side trail to the right as you head out from the Devil’s Garden Trailhead. They don’t take long to visit, we’d advise doing these first, before heading to the more dramatic Landscape Arch farther up the main trail.
1.56 miles round trip, From Devil’s Garden Trailhead
This is one of the most dramatic arches in the park. Landscape Arch is the longest arch in the park, and quite thin! In 1991 a large piece fell off of the lower section of the arch, creating the thinner arch we see today. You cannot get underneath this arch, in case any additional pieces fall.
The trail continues beyond Landscape Arch, but these quickly become some of the most difficult trails in the park.
The Windows Trail
1 mile round trip, from the Windows Trailhead.
Following the main road, the first right-hand turn takes you to the Windows Section of the park. Head to the end of the road where you’ll find parking and a turnaround.
From there you can hike the windows trail which takes you to North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch.
These are very easy trails, with steps built into the pathway. Because there are quite a few features packed into this short trail, it can get crowded here.
“Windows” are larger openings, with more of a rectangular, rather than arches appearance. You can scramble up inside some of the windows.
1/2 mile round trip, from the Windows Trailhead.
When you have finished the Windows Loop, head out to Double Arch for a dramatic two-in-one arch! You are looking through one arch to see another. This is another short trail that is worth doing during your visit to Arches National Park.
Moderate Trails in Arches National Park
These moderate hiking trails are from 2 miles up to 5 miles round trip. They are very doable for most families, without any dramatic rises or particularly difficult sections.
There are few moderate trails in Arches National Park- most trails and either easy or quite difficult.
Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in Arches National Park and the most famous arch in all of Utah’s Parks!
It is featured on the Utah license plate. It is the largest free-standing arch in the park and has many nicknames. It has been called “Cowboy’s Chaps” and “Old Maid’s Bloomers”.
The opening of Delicate Arch measures 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. It is one of the most recognizable geologic features in the world.
There are three ways to view this famous arch. This full trail is not especially long, but it is moderately difficult, and this surprises some visitors. Because it is the most popular arch in the park does not make it easy to get to!
You may need to wait a while for your turn to take a photo under the arch. It is quite popular and can get quite crowded, especially close to sunset.
Delicate Arch Trail
3 miles round trip, Delicate Arch Trailhead
This trail is more difficult than many visitors expect. It has an elevation change of over 500 feet, and you’ll need to pass through a narrow rock ledge of about 200 meters before reaching the arch. You cannot see the arch until the end of the trail.
The National Park Service marks this trail as “Strenuous”, nothing the steep climb and lack of shade.
Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint
The lower Delicate Arch viewpoint is 100 yards from the parking lot, and wheelchair accessible. You can see the arch from here, but it’s quite far away.
Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint
This is your second option if you don’t want to hike the full Delicate Arch Trail. 1/2 mile roundtrip, on rocky, uphill terrain. This is not a long hike, but it is not a flat or easy one either.
You’ll be able to view the famous arch from across a canyon (it’s approx. one mile away). It’s a fun view to watch everyone who’s posing underneath the arch!
Difficult Trails in Arches National Park
The most difficult hiking trails in Arches National Park are on the Devil’s Garden Trailhead, continuing past Landscape Arch. From Landscape Arch you can see hikers high up on steep cliff faces. There are drop-offs and slippery sections that make these trails more difficult than their mileage may imply.
Navajo and Partition Arches
3.0 miles round trip, From Devil’s Garden Trailhead
Just past Landscape Arch, these arches are on side trails on your way to Double O Arch. You’ll find steep and rocky areas, as well as narrow ledges on this trail.
Double O Arch
4.0 miles round trip, From Devil’s Garden Trailhead
After Landscape Arch, the hiking trail gets much more difficult. If you look up from Landscape Arch, you’ll see hikers ascending the steep slopes, sometimes with only footholds.
4.8 miles round trip, From Devil’s Garden Trailhead
A half mile past Double O Arch, you’ll reach Dark Angel. The trail is steep, with exposed slopes, and rocks to scramble over.
Entire Devil’s Garden Trail
7.9 miles round trip
This includes Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, Dark Angel, and the Primitive Trail.
The full loop from the Devil’s Garden Trailhead to Landscape Arch, up to Dark Angle, and then continuing around the Primitive Trail. The Primitive Trail is the most difficult hike in Arches National Park. It is very steep, with few trail markers, and steep, exposed slopes.
Is Arches National Park Kid-Friendly?
Arches National Park is very kid-friendly with many trails for people of all ages and abilities. Most sites are either viewable from the parking areas or with a short hike.
What is the Best Hike at Arches National Park?
Of course, the best hikes at Arches National Park are a bit subjective, but here are our top two!
Best Hike For Young Kids: Sand Dune Arch Trail
This is a wonderful and easy introduction to Arches National Park and one of our kid’s (ages 4 and 7) favorite hikes in the park. From the Sand Dunes Arch parking lot, it is less than a mile round trip to Sand Dunes Arch. Follow the signs from the parking lot for 0.2 miles and at the fork, follow signs to the right for Sand Dune Arch is another 0.2 miles.
Best Hike For Older Kids and Teens: Delicate Arch Trail
Delicate Arch is a wonderful trail for older kids and teens- it is a bit of a challenge, with an Instagram-able finish. Take lots of water, as there is little shade.
How Long Do You Need in Arches National Park?
We suggest two days to see all of the highlights of Arches National Park. You could do the whole park in a day, but that means being out in the hottest part of the day and in the summer the temperatures can be brutal.
If you start your visit in the afternoon, you can avoid the peak heat and also much of the late morning crowds. We started with the sites furthest in and worked our way back out.
On your second day, plan to get to the park early. You will avoid the crowds, find parking easier and get better light as the sun is coming up. We suggest packing lunch and snacks on the second day so you can eat when you want and don’t have to rush. There are a number of picnic areas and restrooms available throughout the park.
The Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
The best time to visit arches is April through May and September through October when the temperatures average between 60 to 80 degrees. In the summer months, the temperatures can easily break 100 degrees and can make for very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous hiking.
We visited Arches at the end of July and it was around 105 for the high on the first day. We checked out a few of the easy walking sites in the afternoon, then cooled off in the pool of our hotel.
For details on visiting Arches in each season, see our post: The Best Time to Visit Arches National Park.
Tips for Visiting Arches National Park
Whatever season you visit, here are some tips to make your visit to Arches National Park safer and more enjoyable.
1. Arrive Early
To avoid the crowds, as well as the heat, it is best to arrive at the park before 8:00 am or after 3:00 pm. In fact, in the busy months, parking areas may fill up before 7 am.
If you arrive at a trailhead and can’t find a parking space, you’ll have to circle back later in the day and try again.
2. Bring your Annual Parks Pass
At $80 for an Annual Parks Pass, it pays for itself in just 2-3 park visits. Keep in mind that while visiting Arches National Park, you’ll probably also want to visit Canyonlands National Park which is very close by.
Entry to Arches costs $30 per private vehicle, $25 per motorcycle, and $15 per person without a vehicle. Each entry fee is good for seven consecutive days.
3. Beware the Heat
The summer is hot! Temperatures at Arches National Park regularly go over 100 degrees in the summer months. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, loose-fitting and light-colored sun shirt, and use sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body.
Try to start your hike in the morning before it heats up or in the late afternoon when the sun is not as intense.
4. Bring Lots of Water
Make sure to bring lots of water. Be sure to eat and drink before hiking and each person should carry and drink at least two liters of water while on activities in the park.
There are water refill stations at the visitor center, but not many are within the park, so come prepared.
5. Become a Junior Ranger
One of the best ways to enjoy the park is to become a Junior Ranger! Don’t worry grown-ups, you can play too! There is no limit to who can become a Junior Ranger. We love these free packets as they help to explain the geology and wildlife in the park around us.
Where to Stay Near Arches National Park
Moab is just south of Arches National Park and has a huge range of lodging options. All of the options lean toward the expensive side, as demand is quite high all year round.
Top Budget Hotel: Expedition Lodge. This hotel has a pool with a tube waterslide, a game room, and even rooms with bunk beds. A great family hotel, perfect for cooling off after hot hikes in the park.
Check Availability: Expedition Lodge
Need more options? We wrote a whole post on Where to Stay Near Arches National Park.
FAQ: Hiking in Arches National Park
You could spend several days hiking the various trails in Arches National Park. The Delicate Arch Trail takes most people 2-3 hours to complete including time to take pictures.
Many of the hikes in Arches National Park are quite short and easy, making it a great park for all ages and abilities. The summer heat is often a great challenge when hiking than the trail itself.
Delicate Arch Trail is the most popular hike in Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is the stone arch featured on the Utah License Plate, and many visitors like to take pictures beneath the arch.
While you cannot drive up or under many of the arches, you can see quite a lot of the park from the paved road, and a few paved trails. There are many wonderful viewpoints along the park road.
There You Have It: Arches National Park Hiking
Everything you need to know to plan a wonderful family-friendly day in Arches National Park hiking. This national park has some incredible viewpoints, and many of them are fairly easy to reach. You can now choose from the many easy trails, or prepare yourself for a more difficult hike.
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