The 6 Best Day Hikes in Arches National Park

The Best Day Hikes in Arches National park - enjoying early morning in Double Arch, Utah

Enjoying early morning in Double Arch

Arches National Park is one concentrated lot of sandstone – filled with arches, rock formations, and incredible views.  Unlike many national parks, where you might drive an hour just to get between one hike and the next, Arches is small enough to be explored without hours in the car.

 



 

Double Arch in the early morning, Arches National Park, Utah

Double Arch in the early morning

That said, the small space does limit hiking somewhat, especially long hikes.  Still, the shorter trails are perfect for strolling and spending time enjoying the formations.  I have certainly found it convenient when I happen to be passing through, or if I want to hike several trails in one day – you might not be able to explore the whole park in a day, or even a weekend, but you’ll be pretty close (if you like powerhiking!)

 

Below are my best-of-the-best hikes in Arches (that don’t require a special permit or 4×4)!

 

6 Best Day Hikes in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch.  If you can only do one short hike in the park, Delicate Arch should be at the top of your list.  Besides being iconic, it’s also very beautiful, and you won’t find another arch like it in the park (it even includes long stretches of hiking on slickrock).  If you can, catch the arch an hour before sunset in the spring or late fall with the snowy La Sal mountains beyond.  Beautiful! 3.0 miles RT

Double O Arch in Devils Garden, Arches National Park, Utah

Double O Arch in Devils Garden

Devils Garden.  If you can only do one long hike in Arches, this one is hard to beat (besides being the only long hike on this list).  The trail leads hikers past no less than 7 arches and innumerable rock formations and sandstone fins, not to mention views to the La Sals.  It’s Arches National Park at its best. 7.2 miles RT

Park Avenue - NPS/Neal Herbert - Arches National Park, Utah

Park Avenue – NPS/Neal Herbert

Park Avenue.  For a short hike, this is really quite an easy one.  There are quite a few rock formations, and the early morning or late afternoon sun makes the canyon especially stunning. 1.1 mile shuttle or 2.2 miles RT

North and South Windows - NPS/Neal Herbert - Arches National Park, Utah

North and South Windows – NPS/Neal Herbert

The Windows / Turret Arch & Double Arch.  Almost as iconic as Delicate Arch, the North and South Windows are especially nice when viewed in the late afternoon.  However, they’re pretty impressive any time of day, and Turret Arch (on the same trail) and Double Arch (across the parking area) offer quite a lot of gain for the minimal pain of this hike. About 2 miles RT

Broken Arch - James St. John (CC BY 2.0) - Arches National Park, Utah

Broken Arch – James St. John (CC BY 2.0)

Sand Dune Arch / Broken Arch / Tapestry Arch.  Another hike with many arches along its lollipop loop length, the hike also offers more desert and views of fins than the other trails mentioned here.  Oh, and Broken Arch isn’t really broken; it just has a crack in it – with the trail passing directly under the crack!  3 miles RT.

Views from near the Upper Delicate Arch Overlook in Arches National Park, Utah

Views from near the Upper Delicate Arch Overlook

Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint.  Although not quite as impressive as standing directly in front – or under – the famous arch, this viewpoint offers a view of the back side of the arch from across a slickrock canyon.  Personally, I like the ability to explore the expanse of slickrock beyond the viewpoint, all with views of Delicate Arch.

 

Bonus!

Rock art near the end of Lower Courthouse Wash - NPS/Neal Herbert - Utah

Rock art near the end of Lower Courthouse Wash – NPS/Neal Herbert

Looking for an adventure in the heat of the summer?  Check out the walk – it’s not a trail – down Lower Courthouse Wash (6.3 mile shuttle or 12.0 miles RT).  Upper Courthouse Wash (about 6 miles as a shuttle or 12 miles RT) is more adventuresome, with less water, but with plenty of opportunities to discover arches, fins, and slot canyons.

 

Did I miss a great hike in Arches National Park?  I’d love to know what it is!