Over 2,000 natural arches flirt with gravity at Arches National Park. With an unpredictable future, right now is the best time to visit this red rock wonderland. Formed by wind over thousands and thousands of years, the arches show off the amazing transformation of nature and offer a glance back in geological time. While there are extensive options at this small National Park near Moab, Utah, here are a few of my favorite hikes from my recent roadtrip that provide spectacular views of these amazing works of art.
Best hike at sunset: Delicate Arch
As the sun slowly dips in the sky, the amphitheater of sandstone slowly fills with photographers, travelers and families waiting for the red rock at Delicate Arch to deepen in hue and illuminate. Standing solemnly with the La Sal Mountains guarding the horizon, Delicate Arch is one of the most iconic in the entire park and likely the most visited. Walk the short 1.5-mile trail to the Arch about 30-45 minutes before sunset to enjoy this beautiful shift of color and watch the moon rise over the desert.
Best hike for families: Windows & Double Arch
Just a short drive off of the main road, both Windows and Double Arch are easy and accessible. Park between the two and get out to walk the sandy trail to these arches. The Windows Arches’ trail is 1-mile round trip while the trail out to Double Arch is only .5 mile making it perfect for families with small children. Climb about on the rocks and stand in awe at their sheer size and power as they scrape the sky above.
Best half-day hike: Devil’s Garden Trail
The longest maintained trail in the park, hike this 7.2-mile round trip trail as it courses in and out of the red rock fins to eight different natural arches. The first half of the hike follows an easy sand trail to Landscape Arch, the longest arch in the park, and is very family friendly. After this point, the trail becomes more primitive and requires some scrabbling over rocks and along narrow edges. Continue all the way out to Dark Angel before following the loop trail back toward the parking lot.
Best hike for sunrise: Broken Arch & Sand Dune Arch
If you are staying at the Devil’s Garden Campground, this hiking loop is perfect for the early morning after you’ve enjoyed a cup of coffee – or with. The light illuminates Broken Arch as you watch the sun rise over the Colorado River basin and La Sal Mountains to the east. At Sand Dune Arch in the early morning you can also experience the canyon alone, before others have disrupted the freshly blown sand with their foot prints. If there was a good wind storm the night before through the park also look for animal tracks in the sand. The full loop is 2-miles round trip and takes about an hour. Start from either the campground or the Sand Dune Arch parking area.
What Arch do you most want to visit?