Top 10 Best Hikes in Arches National Park - Travel for Your Life

Top 10 Best Hikes in Arches National Park

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If you’re a geology nerd, Utah is the best state in America you could possibly visit. From the massive sandstone cliffs and slot canyons of Zion National Park to the hoodoos of Canyonlands National Park, Utah astounds with its geologic beauty. And for hikers, excursions through all the Utah national parks are life-changing experiences. With thousands of sandstone arches, Arches National Park builds Utah’s geologic pedigree.

Arches National Park boasts several of the most spectacular hikes in Utah and offers something for all skill levels. Whether you’re looking for a quick stroll through nature or a rugged challenge, Arches will deliver. Here are my 10 best hikes in Arches National Park that will keep your jaw open and the camera working.

 

Top 10 Best Hikes in Arches National Park

 

About Arches National Park | Top Trails in Arches National Park | Delicate Arch Trail | Double Arch Trail | Devils Garden | Pine Tree Arch Trail & Tunnel Arch Trail | Sand Dune Arch to Broken Arch Loop | Park Avenue Trail | Balanced Rock Loop Trail | Windows Loop & Turret Arch Trail | Skyline Arch Trail | Fiery Furnace & Surprise Arch 

 

About Arches National Park

Just north of Moab, Arches National Park is one of Utah’s “Mighty 5” and a geological masterpiece. With thousands of sandstone arches, rocky pinnacles, red-rock cliffs, and striking desert wildflowers, Arches is a kaleidoscope of colors. Erosion from rainstorms and snowmelt constantly shapes the rocky landscape to form the symbolic arches. And nowhere else on Earth will you find a larger concentration of these natural arches.

Hiking trails inside Arches National Park bring you face-to-face with many of the iconic arches of Utah. Climb atop sandstone fins, walk beneath natural bridges, or simply appreciate the work of Mother Nature. Adding to the park’s scenic beauty, hikers will also find rocky monoliths, craggy spires, and red-rock boulders. And from its breathtaking viewpoints, snowy mountains rise against a horizon of blue skies.

best-hikes-arches-sandstone-arch


 

Top Trails in Arches National Park

For hikers who love geology, Arches National Park is a playground with trails of every difficulty level. From short, flat paths to strenuous climbs and tough rock scrambles, you’ll find a hike suitable for you. I’ve listed my favorite treks in this beautiful national park for you to explore its red-rock wonders at your preferred pace.


 

1. Delicate Arch Trail

  • Length: 3.4 miles
  • Route Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Arches National Park has over 2,500 stone arches, but Delicate Arch reigns as its most famous. Standing at 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, Delicate Arch bewilders your wildest imagination. The geologic wonder is one of Utah’s dearest symbols and hikers from around the world visit Arches for its picture. While the hike isn’t overly difficult, it’s one trail you can’t miss inside this national park.

It’s a steady uphill climb to reach Delicate Arch, but the first glances of the immense rock inspire you to keep pushing. The trailhead starts near the Wolfe Ranch Cabin, and you’ll spot Ute Native American petroglyphs along the way. Red-rock cliffs and sandstone formations surround the trail, while snowy peaks lie in the distance.

One of the most iconic Utah sights is viewing Delicate Arch beneath a mesmerizing sunrise. During high season, leaving at the crack of dawn is my recommendation since the landmark gets ridiculously crowded. Plus, the light that hits Delicate Arch at sunrise turns the stone arch into a breathtaking color.


 

2. Double Arch Trail

  • Length: 0.6 miles
  • Route Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Double Arch Trail is more like a brisk walk, but the views are too good to pass up. Based in the Windows section of Arches National Park, the trail boasts the most spectacular arches in the entire world. Double Arch is the star attraction for the iconic image of two arches sharing the same stone. With the arches looming directly above you, it’s a startling sight to behold.

But Double Arch isn’t the only sandstone formation you’ll spot in this huge concentration of arches. The path offers beautiful vantages of the Turret Arch, Parade of Elephants, Ribbon Arch, and Cove of Caves. For a thrilling rock climbing excursion, Elephant Butte is the highest point in Arches National Park at 5,653 feet. And if you’re looking for a gorgeous sunset, Double Arch Trail is one of my personal favorites.


 

3. Devils Garden

  • Length: 7.9 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Hard

The Devils Garden Primitive Loop has the versatility to satisfy hikers of all skill levels. If you’re willing to push the limits, the entire loop from the Devils Garden trailhead is the longest path in Arches National Park. While scrambling rocks and traversing desert terrain, you’ll spot several enormous arches. The views of sandstone cliffs, desert flora, rocky pinnacles, and distant peaks make Devils Garden the total package.

Spur trails jutting from the main loop add distance to your route but present more arches and sandstone rock formations. One of the spur trails ventures to Dark Angel, a towering black monolith with ancient petroglyphs. For novice trekkers, the path is manageable and relatively flat until you approach Double O Arch. Famous for its upper and lower openings, the sandstone fin marks the start of the Primitive Loop section.

The National Park Service marks this as difficult, and many hikers decide to turn back here. But avid trekkers wishing to continue the adventure will find some of the most peaceful solitude in Arches National Park. The views from atop the rocky arch are spectacular as sandstone formations rise from the desert landscape. But I’d recommend the Primitive Trail for advanced hikers since it has brutal climbs and is easy to get lost.

best-hikes-arches-sandstone-formation


 

4. Pine Tree Arch Trail & Tunnel Arch Trail

  • Length: 1.0 miles
  • Route Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

From Devil’s Garden trailhead, the short hike to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch is fantastic for beginners. It’s a quick detour if you’re planning to visit Landscape Arch, and the flat terrain doesn’t present a challenge. After hiking the main path in Devils Garden for around 5-10 minutes, a sign points you towards Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. The trail leads to another fork, with one heading towards Pine Tree and the other going to Tunnel.

Tunnel Arch is an immense sandstone fin with a giant hole in its base and sits atop desert vegetation. Although the path only views it from a distance, the sandstone walls present a sense of mystery for what’s on the opposite side. After reversing the course, you can walk beneath the gap at Pine Tree Arch. The mammoth rock has piercing red colors and striations coursing along its walls.

As you’re hiking the desert path, look for blooming wildflowers that add color to the arid landscape. But if you come here during summer, please bring lots of water and sun protection. Trust me, the heat gets intense, and there are not many places for shade.

berst-hikes-arches-panorama-view


 

5. Sand Dune Arch to Broken Arch Loop

  • Length: 2.8 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If your feet need a break, what better way than sinking them beneath the sand and sitting beneath the shade. Surrounded by a sandy pit, Sand Dune Arch lets you kick off your hiking boots and slide your toes into the red sand. But I’d avoid going barefoot on scorching summer days since the sand gets awfully hot. Giant sandstone rocks provide respite from the heat if you need to cool off.

The trail gets more challenging after Sand Dune Arch, but you’re rewarded with dramatic views of sandstone walls, rocky spires, and snowy mountains. Part of the path traverses through a narrow slot canyon and opens up to desert terrain. Despite the name, Broken Arch isn’t lying in pieces and lets you hike beneath the massive arch.

From below the arch, you have impressive views of sandstone fins, enormous boulders, and desert vegetation. The trail eventually wanders into Devils Garden Campground, so it’s easily accessible for Arches campers.

best-hikes-arches-turret-arch


 

6. Park Avenue Trail

  • Length: 1.8 miles
  • Route Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Park Avenue may be one of the easiest hikes in Arches National Park, but it boasts an epic viewpoint. As you trek from the base of a red-rock canyon, you face some of the park’s soaring monoliths. Another plus for novice trekkers, the trailhead is only a couple of miles from the visitors center. But once you’re on the trail gazing up at the red-rock skyscrapers, you feel like a tiny spec.

The Courthouse Towers appear indestructible above the desert landscape, while the Organ is a sculpted piece of art. Feast your eyes on the Tower of Babel, and you’ll think it really is biblical. Although Park Avenue won’t test your hiking stamina, its visual beauty will inspire you forever.


 

7. Balanced Rock Loop Trail

  • Length: 0.3 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

I know what you’re thinking; how can a trail not even half a mile be considered a best national park hike. But you’ll regret not getting an epic photo of Balanced Rock, one of the park’s most famous landmarks. The sandstone rock sits right beside Arches Scenic Drive, but you can spot the rocky monument from the roadway.

When you arrive at the base of Balanced Rock, the balancing act will leave you scratching your head. Standing at 128 feet tall, the formation shows an enormous boulder wobbling on a rock column. In reality, the boulder connects to the mudstone, but erosion will eventually send it crashing to the ground. If you happen to be in Arches National Park when that happens, please send me a picture!

best-hikes-arches-balanced-stone


 

8. Windows Loop & Turret Arch Trail

  • Length: 1.2 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

Wandering through the Windows Section, this short loop reveals one of the largest concentrations of arches in the park. Nicknamed Spectacles for their eerie resemblance of eyes, the North and South Windows have the same sandstone fin. The circular arches stare at you from a gigantic wall and offer a stunning view of Turret Arch in the distance.

As you get closer to Turret Arch, a staircase leads you to the base of the sandstone formation. Standing below the arch, you’ll see two openings inching closer together. A rocky tower rises high above the arch and acts like a guardian observing the landscape. When you look beyond Turret Arch, snow-capped peaks stand above the horizon.

best-hikes-arches-north-and-south-window


 

9. Skyline Arch Trail

  • Length: 0.5 miles
  • Route Type: Out & Back
  • Difficulty: Easy

Another short path, the Skyline Arch Trail presents another iconic landmark. It’s a flat path that leads to the rocky wall’s base and suites hikers of all skill levels. If you’re staying in Devils Garden Campground, it’s among the quickest hikes from your campsite. The trailhead sits beside Main Park Road, and you can take pictures of Skyline Arch from the campground’s parking area.

Skyline Arch is among the tallest rock formations in Arches National Park and towers above the desert terrain. But if you get close enough to the arch’s base, find the rubble from the giant boulder that broke off in 1940. The event caused the opening to dramatically increase in size, and the arch is the centrepiece of the rocky skyline.

best-hikes-arches-skyline-arch


 

10. Fiery Furnace & Surprise Arch

  • Length: 1.7 miles
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Definitely the most unique Arches National Park hike, Fiery Furnace tests your skills and wits. The route zigzags through a maze of sandstone walls and forces you to navigate between irregular walls. You must shimmy through narrow gaps, face sudden drop-offs, and trudge through sand. The terrain is constantly changing as you weave through the labyrinth of sandstone.

Due to the brutal conditions, physical demand, and lack of signage, I’d highly recommend not tackling this hike alone. If you underestimate the challenge or get lost, you could be in serious trouble. Arches National Park offers ranger-led tours for the Fiery Furnace to lead you through the maze. For the ones who dare attempt to navigate the canyon walls sans guide, mandatory hiking permits.

 

Have you tried any of the best hikes in Arches national park? …or did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

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