THIS IS NOT TO DISCOURAGE YOU!!
I just think that it is nice to know that when you hike to Delicate Arch there will be other people there when you arrive. Some times a lot of people. This is especially true if you are there at sunset.
This is not totally a bad thing as they are some times fun to watch.
I highly recommend this hike. Just a heads up.
Park signs warn of flash floods that arise so suddenly in the desert. Though such fatalities are more common to the other parks in southern Utah, the topography at Arches provides the same conditions where flash floods can be a serious problem. Light showers and even the briefest of sprinkles can set off a mudslide depending on where you are.
Do not go from the trail to far or try to find a new way through the labyrinth of The Finns. This maze is so big and confusing that you very easily get lost or get trapped in a dead end. There have been people lost before and found by the rangers too late!
The biggest dangers here are heat stroke and dehydration. Many people fail to realize that this is a desert region with little rainfall. The only steady source of water in Arches is the Colorado River along the southern boundry, but it's not fit to drink. Take plenty of drinking water and don't overexert yourself. There is very little shade here too.
Please be careful and don't stray off the hiking trails and walk on the soil. The soil is the home of fragile microorganisms that make the ecosystem function. A misplaced footstep can kill them and effect the environment for decades -- things gro slowly in the desert (even bacteria).
Arches is a desert environment so make sure you carry enough water for your plans. This should be a liter per person per half day (at least) if you are hiking. Even if you are seeing the park by car, be sure to drink enough water as you will be making short walks to many sights. And don't forget the pets! If you've brought your dog along for the ride, they'll be hot too (and we're sure we don't need to warn anyone about the foolishness of leaving their dog inthe car, right?)
Arches National Park is high and dry. At between 4 and 5 thousand feet in elevation, there may be a bit of an adjustment to make for visitors from sea level. It can also be very hot and being so dry it's easy to get dehydrated. Carry water with you at all times when hiking or walking on the paths.
The road going into Arches National Park from US Route 191 is very steep and winding for the first 3 miles. The road has no guardrails either. The person who drives this part of the road should be experienced.
It is very very important that you bring a few liters/gallons of water with you. Temperatures routinely soar above 100 degrees meaning you will become dehydrated very very fast. I was able to locate 2 places to fill up my water bottles however both were at the far north end of the park. One at the start of the devils garden trail, the other at the campground entrance.
Also be sure to bring sunscreen along as the Utah sun can really burn the unprepared
I just thought of this again this morning as I was driving to work. I have no idea how these memories just pop into my head. Well, I got to thinking - did I ever write this up as a Tip, for Arches? so, the negative answer realized, here goes -- !!
The Dangers of Pitching a Tent on Sand!
We were camping at Arches National Park, getting a meal ready, after pitching our tent. At the small group site, near the camp site nearby, we heard and saw a group of teens setting up camp. They erected a very large nylon dome tent. They seemed to be having a good time, so far. Their adult chaperones were low key and jovial. Suddenly, screams and shouts. I look up from my Sterno flame, to see a large orange nylon ball rolling over the sand, FAST, with teens running after! Lesson: pitching a tent in sand can be tricky. The stakes are not that effective! Remember to put something(s) heavy inside the tent, to keep it from blowing away!!
Reminds me of another story...I lent a small two person nylon pup tent to friends. They came back home, to report they lost the tent. How?! This is what I asked. Lesson (which seems obvious to me, even though I never had a boat!!): Don't pitch a tent on the deck of a boat. It will blow away!!!
Be prepared for extremes of temperature when visiting Arches National Park. In the summertime the heat is extreme and the sun intense. In the winter temperatures drop and snow falls. During the summer you’ll be hard pressed to find shade in this part of the desert. Arches National Park attracts all types of adventure seekers. Just make sure you drink plenty of water and carry maps with you when hiking, camping or climbing. If you’re unfamiliar with the terrain don’t stray from the marked trails or go with a guide. If you get lost and caught out in the desert sun there isn’t much you can do to protect yourself from exposure. Know your limits, carry proper equipment and provisions, have a plan and be careful. But most of all have fun. If you’re a thrill seeker looking for adventure Arches National Park is the place for you.
There are many hiking paths throughout Arches National Park that are maintained by the National Park Service. These trails are marked to blend in with the natural terrain. Be sure to stay on the clearly marked paths and follow the trail markers. If you’re planning to hike “off the beaten path” and are unfamiliar with the terrain check in first at the visitors center located near the park entrance. Here you have access to park maps and trail guides. Experienced hikers lead guided hikes through some of the more difficult terrain at various times during the day. It is easy to get lost if you are unfamiliar with the territory and stray from the marked paths. And the sun in this area can be unforgiving with very little shade available. When in doubt search for the trail markers and be sure to bring plenty of potable water with you.
Be sure to hydrate well and know your limits. Arches NP is in a very hot dry desert climate and also at a relatively high elevation. Take this into account and scale back your expectations.
As always, you should obey all warning signs. They are there to for your safety and to protect the park, its wildlife, and its plants. Avoid hiking alone on the more desolate trails.