Located just a few minutes outside of Moab, Arches National Park is an awe-inspiring area packed full of geological wonders. For 10 dollars (5 if walking in) you can enter the park and stay as long as you’d like. The best part–it’s open 24/7.
The park lies high above the entrance and visitor’s center, separated by a series of switchbacks. The lone two-lane road leads to all of the numerous arches (2,000 total) and other features of the park. Following a cluster of less-famous landmarks at the top of the switchbacks, the next prominent feature is Balanced Rock. As the name implies, it’s a massive boulder perched precariously on a narrow rock column. Also nearby are The Windows and Double Arch. All of these initial features are easily accessible by short and relatively easy trails.
The pride and joy of the park, Delicate Arch, is located about five miles beyond Balanced Rock. A distant viewpoint lies a short walk from the road. To reach the arch itself you have to hike a relatively difficult 1.5 mile trail. The path is tame to start, but about halfway in it changes to steep slick rock. However, the views are well worth the trouble.
The furthest cluster of features is called the “Devil’s Garden,” nearly twenty miles into the park. The road ends at the parking area and trailhead, however there is one other major area called the “Klondike Bluffs” that can only be accessed via 4WD vehicle. The Devil’s Garden is less crowded than the first two areas, but the trail is more difficult. The path is flat and leisurely up until the massive Landscape Arch, offering great views of Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch along the way. However, immediately following Landscape Arch the path becomes very steep, narrow, and rocky. Parts of the trail involve climbing up ledges and squeezing through narrow openings. In addition, there can be significant drop-offs on either side of the trail. On the bright side, there are several amazing arches further down the path that are skipped by the majority of visitors. Private arch and Double O Arch are some of the most impressive of the whole park.
Although relatively small for a National Park, there is a ton to see in Arches. One full afternoon (~6 hours) is the minimum to experience the must-sees of the park. You could easily spend 2+ days. As one of five national parks in Utah, there is plenty of competition for your time and attention. But with so many amazing features packed into a small park, it’s hard to beat the bang for your buck that Arches National Park provides.