With more than 2,000 arches, as well as rock fins, pinnacles and balancing rocks, visiting Arches National Park is like escaping to a wonderland of ancient sandstone. Visitors cherish the soaring red rock features — clad in a gradient of red, orange, brown and purple hues — set against an often-bright blue sky.
This wondrous landscape has evolved over 300 million years, and as visitors, it is our responsibility to protect this cherished land for future generations — a shared travel ethos we call Forever Mighty.
Arches National Park is a red rock paradise — and also a very popular destination. To maximize your enjoyment, consider visiting during off-peak times.
The park is most active from March through October, and especially around Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Utah Education Association break (which is usually in October). The busiest time of day is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Early morning and late afternoon typically offer fewer crowds, shorter lines, easier parking, cooler temperatures and “golden light” for photographers. Winter in Arches National Park also offers stunning scenery during the quiet season.
Arches is an internationally-certified Dark Sky Park, making it a prime location for night photography or stargazing (Panorama Point and the Windows Section are great spots for evening views). Do note that using artificial light sources to illuminate park features for photography is not permitted.
Explore the Region Thoughtfully
Consider giving yourself a few extra days to explore the region around Arches National Park. A drive down Main Street in nearby Moab solidifies the town's reputation as a major hub for outdoor recreation. You'll find it is bustling with mountain bikers, river rafters, climbers, canyoneerers, hikers and off-roaders who have come to play. The Complete Arches Trip itinerary will give you a proper lay of the surrounding area.
Visiting neighboring towns like Moab, Green River or Monticello provides a great opportunity to support local businesses. All of these unique gateway communities offer lodging, dining, shops and guided outfitters to help make the most of your visit to the area.
Create a trip plan and make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will return. Don’t expect cell phone service to work, having a printed map is always helpful. Be aware of potential hazards, including wildlife, lightning, flash floods and extreme heat. Assess your abilities, goals and skills and make sure your planned activities are a good match. Reach out to a park ranger if you’re unsure.
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Visit With Respect
The red rock desert is a fragile ecosystem, and visitors should take special care to protect it. Practice Leave No Trace principles to ensure that all parts of the park are left as nature intended.
Pack out everything you bring with you, including “microtrash,” such as tiny bits of food wrappers, tissues and even crumbs. Arches requires visitors to pack out solid human waste, toilet paper and hygiene items.
Stay on existing trails and do not travel off course or “bust the crust.” A single footstep can cause damage that lasts for decades, so be sure to stay on trails, roads and designated routes. Rock cairns, or rock piles, are trail markers. Do not disturb them or add new ones, as they could mislead other hikers.
Treat the arches and other geologic features with respect, both to protect them and for your safety. Walking, climbing and scrambling on arches — even for a quick photo — is not permitted.
Leave rocks, plants, animals and natural objects as you found them. Never leave marks or scratches on rocks or other surfaces and admire artifacts and natural features from a distance without touching or disturbing. Tree carvings, rock etchings and spray painting are forms of vandalism and graffiti, which are illegal on public lands.
Respect the wildlife that make Arches National Park their home. Keep your distance, and if an animal changes its behavior due to your presence, you are too close. Secure your food so animals cannot access it, and never feed wildlife.
Camp only in designated areas on durable surfaces and follow all campfire rules and regulations.
Leave drones and pets at home. The use of off-highway vehicles (ATVs, OHV, UTVs, etc.) is also not allowed in Arches National Park.
Be courteous to other visitors by minimizing noise, yielding to others on trails and respecting trail and transportation signage.
"This wondrous landscape has evolved over 300 million years, and as visitors, it is our responsibility to protect this cherished land for future generations."
Southeastern Utah gets hot in the summer — if you’re hiking, consider hitting the trail in the cool of the mornings and evenings.
Photo: Angie Payne
Take Care of Yourself
Take care of yourself and your companions by planning ahead and knowing what to expect on your visit to Arches.
Prepare for the Heat
Southeastern Utah gets hot in the summer, and daytime temperatures can exceed 100°F. Avoid exertion or overheating during the peak temperatures of the day. Consider hiking in the cool of the mornings and evenings. There is very little shade on most trails within the park. Protect yourself with sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing.
Heat and dry desert air can quickly lead to dehydration. Bring a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day, and remember to drink it. You can top up your refillable water container at the visitor center or Devil’s Garden parking area.
Pack Your Essentials
Bring plenty of water, food, navigational equipment (including a map) and all the gear you will need (including sun protection, sturdy footwear, layers of clothing, and a first aid kit) to be self-sufficient. People get into trouble and require rescue each year even on popular trails like Devils Garden and Delicate Arch. Food is not available in the park, so bring what you’ll need.
The Complete Arches Trip
Discover a new side of Arches National Park with this four day itinerary. Start exploring the hidden gems in the Arches region today.