Arches National Park – A Few Tips

Delicate Arch at Dusk

Delicate Arch at Dusk – October 2012

Arches National Park is one of my favorite places to visit. Something about those red rock desert landscapes just takes my breath away. There’s so much that can be said about Arches, but for now I’ll give you a few of my favorite tips for enjoying it to the fullest.

April and October are the best times to go in my opinion, because the temperatures during the day are perfect—you don’t feel like you’re going to die from the heat. You might feel like you’re going to die from all the hiking, but the views are worth the effort. And you’ll relish putting your feet up at the end of the day while drinking your body weight in water and sports drinks. Going in a slower season (it’s not really slow, but slower) means fewer tourists, which by extension means better photo ops. And much better parking. It can be a little disheartening to feel like you’ve already done a hike by the time you get to the trailhead.

If you go in these months, however, make sure your visit doesn’t coincide with any Utah school holidays (spring break or UEA). Trust me. It can be nearly impossible to get a hotel room during those school breaks.

Do the longest hike of the day first, and get up early to beat the crowds and the heat.

Bring water on every hike. Lots of water.

If you are not a seasoned camper, I don’t recommend camping from October to April unless you’ve done your homework and brought good gear and clothes for the temperature fluctuations. It’s the desert, so even though it’s usually gorgeous during the day, it can be freeeeeeeezing cold at night. (I may or may not have learned this the hard way.) If you’d rather just sleep in a real bed, take a shower after hiking all day, and have the option of heating or A/C, then grab a hotel room in Moab. There are plenty to choose from. There are also houses or condos you can rent short-term if you’ve got a larger group.

If you’re going to camp, bring a three-season bag, some hand warmers, a warm hat, good socks, and plenty of layers so you can adjust if you get too warm or cold.

The Three Gossips - Arches National Park - October 2012

The Three Gossips – Arches National Park – October 2012

My don’t-miss hikes in Arches are:

  • Delicate Arch, of course
  • Sand Dune Arch – especially if you have kids
  • Park Avenue (easier if you have a car you can leave at the beginning and one you can leave at the end)
  • the Windows area (lots of short little hikes that all share a common parking lot)

Landscape Arch and Double-O Arch are also great, and the hike to Double-O Arch has some great vistas along the way. Just remember to pack great shoes, bring that water, and stay on the trails.

What about you? Have you been to Arches? If so, what are your tips and don’t-miss activities? If not, do you plan to visit at some point?

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