Start: Windows Parking Area
Distance: 1 mile; loop
Maps: USGS Arches National Park; Trails Illustrated Arches National Park
Finding the trailhead: Drive 9.2 miles north into the park on the main road until it forks. Take a right (east) and drive 3 miles to the Windows Parking Area.
Trailhead GPS coordinates: 38.687164, -109.536719
The scenery is sensational on this short hike, but it is very popular. Consider taking this short hike early or late in the day when the crowds are somewhat diminished and you are more likely to find a place to park.
Although it seems like it should be the other way around, the trail goes to the North Window and then to the South Window. On the way to the North Window, take a short side trip to the right (south) to see Turret Arch. The Windows are sometimes called the Spectacles, and you can see why. If you hike the primitive loop around the back of the arches, you can see the “nose” on which the spectacles rest.
It’s fairly easy to go off-trail and climb up right under North Window and Turret Arch. Do not attempt to climb into South Window. Several people have fallen while trying or have gotten stranded here. Be careful not to fall or damage any vegetation or natural features. Also, hang onto your hat. The strong winds in the area tend to blow it off as soon as you reach either arch.
After you finish marveling at the Windows and Turret Arch, continue along the well-defined loop trail from the viewpoint of South Window. It makes a small circle around the Windows, giving you another great view of North Window. It also offers a glimpse at the native vegetation of the area. The primitive loop trail hits the parking lot about 50 yards north of the main trailhead.
Option: For a shorter hike of 0.7 mile, turn around and retrace your steps back to the parking lot.