Behind the Arches National Park visitor center, craggy sandstone rises like a castle’s curtain wall between towers and turrets. The 40-mile scenic drive climbs high onto the plateau and crosses a vast and glorious landscape of panoramic views with distant snowcapped mountains. At sunset, you’ll swear photographers coined “magic hour” here as the red rock becomes saturated with the radiance of the sun. At sunrise, rays of light break over dramatic horizons. A new day in Arches begins. Let’s get hiking.
It’s no surprise that Arches National Park is one of the top national parks in America: it’s a 73,234-acre wonderland of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks, and, of course, arches northwest of Moab. The park protects an amazing landscape that includes the largest proliferation of arches in the world. Over 2,000 arches (with an arch considered an opening with one side at least 3 feet wide) have been catalogued in Arches National Park. Landscape Arch, measuring 306 fragile feet, is the second-longest span in the world and it’s a sight you will never forget.
The sandstone formations in Arches National Park define not only the landscape but also its plants and animals. The scarce precipitation — 8.5 inches annually — extreme temperature ranges, and relatively high elevation, all conspire to limit life among the rocks to only species that can adapt to such a harsh environment. Elevations at Arches range from 3,960 feet along the Colorado River to 5,653-foot Elephant Butte, the park’s high point. A pygmy forest of piñon pine and juniper covers about half the park; scrubby steppe and bare slickrock blanket the rest.
Opportunities to see and explore Arches National Park abound for people of all ages and abilities, from the scenic roads that slice through the park to the many trails that wind among the 300-foot-high towers and take hikers to some of the most spectacular namesake arches. Many of these hikes are relatively easy, making Arches National Park one of the top national parks for families with children, and a world-class vacation destination for hikers in general.
And when you’re done taking in the park’s beauty, you can stay in one of Arches campgrounds or visit the nearby town of Moab, a classic Utah desert town famous for its a laid-back outdoorsy vibe and incredible array of nearby mountain biking trails. There is a lot to see and do in Arches National Park and the Moab area, so plan on spending a few days — at least! Start planning here:
Arches Adventure Guide
Ready for adventure? Gear up for five of Arches's best longer hikes.Read More
Arches National Park
PO Box 907
Moab, Utah 84532