What Is So Special About Arches National Park

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Arches National Park is a red rock wonderland. With over 2,000 natural stone arches and hundreds of other rock formations, this Utah park is a prime example of how rain and snow change a landscape.

Sixteen hiking trails range from easy to strenuous and take visitors deep into the park’s heart.

Designated as an International Dark Sky Park, nights here provide excellent stargazing opportunities, even a chance to see the rings of Saturn.

What’s so special about Arches National Park? Everything! Let’s dive in and learn more!

Where Is Arches National Park?

Arches National Park is located in eastern Utah, about 30 miles south of I-70. It’s easily accessible from Highway 191, which connects I-70 to Moab, Utah.

The exit where you take Highway 191 South to Arches is about an hour from the Colorado border. Canyonlands National Park is about 30 minutes from Arches National Park.

Many people visit both national parks during the same visit.

Arches National Park from a distance at sunset, with a purple sky.

When Did Arches National Park Become A National Park?

In 1929, President Herbert Hoover set aside 1,920 acres in the Windows and 2,600 acres in the Devils Garden, designating the land as Arches National Monument.

Congress re-designated the park in 1971, creating Arches National Park. It now protects over 2,000 natural stone arches, hundreds of pinnacles, rock fins, and balanced rocks.

What’s So Special About Arches National Park?

Arches National Park covers 119 square miles of stunning rock formations in eastern Utah. Since 2010, over a million people have visited this park yearly, with 2021 setting a record of 1.8 million visitors.

Because of the limited parking lots at trailheads, overlooks, and picnic areas, Arches instituted a timed entry ticket system several years ago. Now, visitors must purchase a timed ticket to enter the park between April 1 and October 31.

So why do so many people flock to Moab to view these rock formations? Currently, over 2,000 arches have been documented in Arches National Park.

It’s the densest concentration of these natural stone formations in the world. New ones are forming while others have fallen over the years. Landscape Arch is the longest at 306 feet, and Double Arch South is the tallest at 112 feet.

The most iconic arch is Delicate Arch, a giant monolith arch that’s also pictured on Utah license plates.

There is so much to do and see in Arches National Park. Backpacking, canyoneering, hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing are some of the most popular activities.

Here are our top three attractions in the park that you don’t want to miss!

Pro Tip: After all the hiking you’ll do in Arches National Park, you’re going to want to soak your bones. Here are The Best Hot Springs in Utah You Have to Visit!

1. Hike to Delicate Arch

Everyone who visits Arches National Park wants to view Delicate Arch. The opening is 46 feet tall, and the entire height is about 60 feet.

The hike to view this iconic rock formation isn’t easy. But you can’t see the arch until you get to the end. It’s totally worth the sweat and effort to reach the top.

Roundtrip, the hike is about three miles and climbs over 500 feet in elevation. The steep slickrock slope is the hardest part of the hike.

There is no shade, so be particularly cautious in the summer. Make sure to bring plenty of water. Once you get to Delicate Arch, eat a snack, take photos, and enjoy the stunning view.

Delicate arch at arches national park.

2. Explore the Fiery Furnace

Another strenuous hike in Arches National Park is the Fiery Furnace. This hike requires a permit if you’re exploring on your own. Or you can sign up for a guided hike with a park ranger.

This park area has many possible routes, and you can easily get lost. This labyrinth of narrow passages, sandstone walls, and slot canyons is unlike anywhere else in the park. It’s an outdoor adventurer’s playground!

3. Visit the Windows Section

Finally, visiting the Windows section of the park requires no physical effort, like hiking to Delicate Arch or exploring the Fiery Furnace. This beautiful part of Arches has a large concentration of natural sandstone arches that are easily accessible.

You’ll see Double Arch, Turret Arch, North Window, and South Window. It’s a perfect location for visitors who can’t hike or have limited time to spend in the national park.

A man standing between Double Arch  at sunset.

Visit This Hidden Gem In Arches National Park

Stargazing in Arches National Park is a beautiful experience. Join a ranger-led stargazing program during your visit. They’re available from spring through fall.

Enjoy stargazing and telescope viewing in one of the darkest places in the contiguous U.S. Since Arches is so far removed from urban light pollution, it was named an International Dark Sky Park in 2019.

Pro Tip: If you want more red rocks and unique formations, you need to check out Bryce Canyon National Park next!

Tall red rocks inside arches national park at sunset.

Best Place For Camping Near Arches National Park

Camping is allowed inside the national park at Devil’s Garden Campground. You can make reservations six months in advance on Recreation.gov from March 1 to October 31. Campsites are first-come, first-served during the other months of the year.

Sites are $25/night. There are no hookups, but campers can use generators from 8–10 AM and 4–8 PM. There’s no dump station or potable water.

Even though there are no services here, Devil’s Garden Campground is ideal for visitors who want to witness the dark skies of Arches and be in the middle of the national park with convenient access to trailheads and notable attractions.

Is Visiting Arches National Park Worth It?

Arches National Park is part of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks. From Zion in the southwest to Arches in the central-east, the state is a bucket list destination for many RVers.

Even though Arches is one of the smallest of the five, it’s one of the most-visited. There’s a reason almost two million people headed to Moab in 2021.

With over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and other magnificent rock formations like spires, fins, and balanced rocks, Arches is a wonderland. Have you ever visited this Utah national park?

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