Natural stone arches and fantastic rock formations, sculpted as if by an artist's hand, are the defining features of this park, and they exist in remarkable numbers and variety. Just as soon as you've seen the most beautiful, most colorful, most gigantic stone arch you can imagine, walk around the next bend and there's another-bigger, better, and more brilliant than the last. It would take forever to see them all, with more than 1,700 officially listed and more being discovered or "born" every day.
Just down the road from Canyonlands National Park, Arches is much more visitor-friendly, with relatively short, well-maintained trails leading to most of the park's major attractions. It's also a place to let your imagination run wild.
Exploring the park is a great family adventure. The arches seem more accessible and less forbidding than the spires and pinnacles at Canyonlands and other southern Utah parks. Some think of arches as bridges, but to geologists there's a big difference. Bridges are formed when a river slowly bores through solid rock, while the often bizarre and beautiful contours of arches result from the erosive force of rain and snow, freezing and thawing, dissolving the "glue" that holds sand grains together and chips away at the stone, until gravity finally pulls a chunk off.
Spend a day or a week here, exploring the terrain, watching the rainbow of colors deepen and explode with the long rays of the setting sun, or the moonlight glistening on tall sandstone cliffs. Watch for mule deer, cottontail rabbits, and the bright green collared lizard as they go about the difficult task of desert living. And let your own imagination run wild among the Three Gossips, the Spectacles, the Eye of the Whale, the Penguins, the Tower of Babel, and the thousands of other statues, towers, arches, and bridges that await your discovery in this magical playground.
Visit/Hike Arches National Park
Probably one of the most incredible rock formations in the world. Many formations can be seen from your car, most require an easy short hike and a few require a longer more difficult hike. Great for people of all ages. Just make sure your car has air conditioning. Was the location of the young Indy scene at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
There are many ways to explore Arches National Park. The scenic drive, which takes a few hours to complete, passes within sight of many of the park's famous features. Hiking trails lead to hundreds of spectacular natural arches and other interesting formations.
Arches National Park
Photo: Landscape Arch
You can easily spend an entire day here. It takes 45 minutes to an hour to drive from Moab to the very end of the park (Devils Garden) and that's if you're not making any stops. If its your first time in the park, you'll be making stops quite often. It's an amazing place.
Don't miss Delicate Arch at sunset. The Devils Garden hike is well worth doing. The Windows section is also worthwhile and everywhere there are short walks to the arches. The Fiery Furnace is also something you should see if you have time. You need to go on a ranger led hike here though which needs to be booked at least the day before. There are limited spaces and it is popular.
Devil's Garden hiking. Photo: Devil's Garden trailhead. February 1996.
This is a great hike with 9 arches if you do the entire loop which is 7.2 miles / 11.5 kilometers. The terrain gets a bit more difficult after Landscape Arch and involves some scrambling. Most people turn around at Landscape Arch. This is one of the best hikes in the park.
Visit the Arches national park. That's maybe the reason why you are traveling to Moab.
The Arches national park offers many nice walks. Take some time to explore this park with some walks. I would recommend to spend at least 1 day in this park.
Edward Abbey tells you to stay away, but his descriptions of Arches and the surrounding area in the book Desert Solitaire are so compelling that it was impossible for us to comply. The landscapes at Arches are breathtaking, but it is a fairly popular park and some areas can get pretty crowded. The best time to enter the park for a day of hiking is before dawn.
One of the longest arches the Landscape Arch. As you can see some parts of this arche are already very thin!
Hard to believe that all these plants are still so green on this sandy ground and with this dry and very hot climate