The world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches is in UTAH, USA. The park is huge, and you need to dedicate at least one day to see it. It is close to Moab, which makes the town the perfect place to sleep. There are a lot of parks in the area, so you probably need to spend more than one night. I stayed three days and do not regret every single one of them. The Lazy Lizard is the perfect place to sleep cheap and chat with interesting people if you like hostel experience.
The Arches park operates 365 days a year. The visitor center opens at 9 and closes at 4 in winter time (it is closed on 25th of December). If you have limited time, go through it and ask them to help you plan your time. There are so many beautiful arches you don’t want to miss.
You can drive through the whole park for about 3 hours, stopping only at the viewpoints. Some of the trails are very short and will add only hour or two to your time. Others are quite long, and you will need to spend half of the day only for one of them. I spent one day and a half and the park trying to take the most of it. Here is my itinerary:
We drove through the Park Avenue and stopped only to take pictures from the viewpoint. There is a one-hour trail through the spectacular canyon, but we were there for the arches, so we decided to skip it.
We did our first trail to the balanced rock which is clearly visible from the road as well. Anyway, it is only 10 minutes away from it, and we decided to have a closer look on this “not complying with the gravitation” rock formation.
We made a turn to the Windows section where the first arches were waiting for us. The view of the massive North and South windows is stunning. I walked around to make some good shots and the whole trek took me more than the expected one-hour long trail.
I was thinking I couldn’t be surprised more with the size of the rock formations, but then I went to the Double Arch. 30 minutes roundtrip will lead you to the base of two giant arches that are joined at one of their ends. Although, this is a place which you can clearly see from the road, do the trek because you won’t be disappointed in the end.
My first day ended with the view of the most popular and in my opinion most beautiful arch – The Delicate Arch. You can drive to the viewpoint to see it, but it is in most of the cases useful because it will be very far from you. I was planning to do the hike anyway and drove there just to have a different perspective. I didn’t even take a picture. The trek starts at the Wolfe Ranch and it is 2 or 3 hours long, depending on how fast you can climb. Please note: the trail has exposure to heights and in winter time there could be a lot of ice on the path. Check in the visitor center if you need to have some additional equipment. There was some ice when I was walking, but walking carefully get me to the top. The arch is magical, I loved everything – the surrounding covered with snow, the shape, the time and the place. I guess the presence of not so many people in the area made the experience so special for me, but I don’t think even a huge crowd can jeopardize the experience you get from this place. It will remain one of the highlights of my road trip.
Since it took so long, to me and my partners in crime, to see the Delicate Arch and all others on the way to it, we ran out of time the first day. I suppose one could have some more time if its summer time, but it was a winter and the sunset came quickly after 5. We decided to go back to the Arches National Park on the next day and explore the Devils garden area. This is the place where you can see the Landscape arch which is largely advertised everywhere. Unfortunately, the trail that goes close to it is closed. You can only see it from distance, still, quite a spectacular view.
The trek continues from there to other arches. The area is large, and the trails are difficult, so prepare with water and food as you will spend not less than 5 hours. Especially if you decide to go back on the Primitive Trail at the Devils Garden. I understand there that when Americans put a sign “Difficult” they truly mean that.
The trail is interesting but not recommended if you are afraid of heights. The alternative to it is to go back once you reach the Dark Angel. I didn’t find the rock there so impressive, so do research before you go there. All other attractions on the trail are interesting and different from each other. Navajo, Partition and Double O Arches are smaller comparing to the ones we have seen the previous day, but they have their own charm.
We stopped on the way back at the entrance at the Sand Dune and Broken Arches and decided we have seen enough of those. It was sunset already and driving through the Park Avenue gave us spectacular skies to celebrate the previous two amazing days.
All pictures are mine, except the ones I am visible, those are someone else’s (:
If you want to see more beautiful parks nearby, check these out:
Thank you for reading and upvoting. Stay tuned for more natural wonders in US. Cheers, Eva (: