Just outside of Moab, sandstone arches are everywhere. I visited this natural wonder in 2016 on a big road trip where I did the big 5 National Park loop in Utah. I pulled into Moab late at night and everything was dark, I didn’t know what Moab or the surrounding areas had to offer. I spent a while just trying to find an affordable place to stay. I ended up staying at a super 8. It was the first night I had a shower and a bed to sleep in after three days driving and sleeping on the side of the road or camping out.
The next morning I drove to Arches National Park to see what all the hype was about. The most notable sight and most photographed is the Delicate Arch. I entered the park not knowing what to expect other than the delicate arch. But i wanted to see what else this place had to offer. I was given a map at the entrance which was quite helpful in finding my way around the park. I only planned to spend the day in arches which I did and I made the very most of the day.
You have to drive a couple miles until you reach areas where you can see different arches. Along the way you will pass several view points that you can pull over and look around at. About 10 miles in you will come up to a spot with the Balanced Rock. Take the next right and drive another 2.5 miles or so to the parking lot for the Double Arch, Turret Arch, and the North and South Windows. It is a relatively short hike to see each one and you can get right up next to and inside the arches. They are quite impressive too!
Back on the main park road you can continue northward for about another 2.5 miles, and you’ll reach the turn off for the Delicate Arch. I didn’t hike up to the base of Delicate Arch, rather I took the right turn and went to the Lower/Upper Delicate Arch viewpoint. Another short hike to the end of these trails and you can end up on a cliff overlooking a valley below, and off in the distance you will see the Delicate Arch, which is swarmed with other tourists that are getting closer looks at the arch. My viewpoint was much less crowded, and I was able to see for miles!
Again back on the main park road, you can make your way along another roughly 2.5 to 3 miles and you will get to the trailhead for the Fiery Furnace. They recommend that you take a guided tour down into the Fiery Furnace, or if you are great with directions and navigation, you can get a day hike permit at the front. I opted to not take the hike being that it was the middle of June and a little to hot for me and I also did not have the time and gear for it.
Continuing back on the road 4 miles or so I stopped and hiked out to the Broken Arch. I think it was only about 2 miles round trip, but seemed like farther because it was getting so hot in the middle of the day. Another interesting arch to see and mostly flat the whole way. Sand Dune Arch is near the start of that trail head and there are some small slot canyons you can climb into and explore but be careful and don’t get stuck!
One more mile and you will reach the end of the road in the park and it will end at the Devil’s Garden campground. The Devil’s Garden trailhead is at the end of the parking lot. I had already hiked and jogged and explored many of the other arches that I didn’t even mention on here, so by this time I was pretty pooped.
I stopped at the Devil’s Garden for a bit and had lunch, took some photos, and just rested for a bit and rehydrated. I didn’t venture into the Devil’s Garden, but next time I go, I definitely will! There are tons more arches to see and many miles to be hiked and explored. This was the end of my Ring of Fire in Utah and I still had several days left in my trip.
My time in Arches National park was short, but I saw a lot of awesome formations. It was the first time I had ever been there so it was a learning trip mostly. The next time I go to Arches National Park, I will get the permits needed, and hike the Fiery Furnace, and The Devils Garden and hopefully backpack in for a night or two! Till’ next time Arches! Off to Colorado!
“Why do you speak to me of the stones, it is only the Arch that matters to me.” – Kublai Khan