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Arches National Park is one of the best national parks for families to visit. It is very unique, beautiful, and accessible. Plus, it is really easy to see the best parts in one day or less. This makes it the perfect national park to visit on a weekend getaway or as part of a bigger trip to see other things in the area. Here’s our best tips for spending one day at Arches National Park.
What is Arches National Park?
Most of America’s national parks are huge, but not Arches. It is much smaller, but no less impressive. It takes its name from the more than 2000 natural stone arches that fill its borders.
While the arches are the stars of the show, you will also find huge rock fins and columns, all made naturally from the red rocks that are found everywhere in southern Utah.
These arches are magnificent and seem so surreal. I love how they are all located so close to each other. It really makes it easy to see them all in the same day.
Where is Arches National Park?
Arches National Park is located in southern Utah just outside of Moab. It is also located just a few miles from Canyonlands National Park. So, it is not difficult to plan a trip to Moab and visit both parks. And since you can easily spend one day at Arches National Park, you can do it all in a long weekend.
Unfortunately, the closest major airport to Moab is Salt Lake City, which is about 4 hours away. So, plan to rent a car. And make sure to build in enough time to allow for your mini road trip at the beginning and end of your trip!
The Must See Arches
If you only have one day at Arches National Park, here are the must see arches to enjoy the best the park has to offer. This is also the order you should visit them to make the most of your time.
North and South Windows
Your first stop during your one day at Arches National Park is the Windows. Follow the signs and park in the designated area. You will have a very short hike to the windows.
You will first see the North Window. After marveling at it, continue your hike around the corner to the South Window. I personally liked the South Window better than the North Window.
Both are great for photos, but you can only climb up inside the North Window.
Before hiking back to your car after taking in the views at the Windows, stop by Turret Arch. It is on the same trail, so it is an easy add on before driving to the next stop. You can either admire this one from the trail or climb up into the arch to take in the views on the other side.
My favorite arch of them all is the Double Arch. This is just a short drive from the Windows and Turret Arch. After parking in the lot, take a short stroll over to it. You will probably want to spend a bit of time here because there are so many great angles to admire.
If you have kids with you, this is a great place for them to climb around and burn off some energy. My son loved climbing among the rocks at Double Arch.
Sand Dune Arch
When you are done at Double Arch, head on further down the road until you see the signs for Sand Dune and Broken Arch. This is the longest hike on our list of must see arches. So, grab your water to take with you when you leave the car this time!
First on the trail is Sand Dune Arch. It is not far from the parking lot. The great thing about this hike is that it is almost all in the shade. But, there is lots of sand, so be prepared to get some sand in your shoes!
My family loved this arch! It was a fun one to visit.
After seeing Sand Dune Arch, follow the trail the opposite way until you arrive at Broken Arch. This is the longest stretch of hiking you will do all day. But, most of it is flat, so it’s not too hard.
This is another arch that you can admire from the end of the trail or climb up into for a glimpse of the world beyond.
The trail here actually continues through Broken Arch and goes on for another mile and a half or so. But, after a bit, we lost the trail, so I wouldn’t recommend wasting time going past the arch. Instead, head back to your car and go on to Delicate Arch.
Next is Delicate Arch. It is just down the road from Broken Arch. There are two different viewpoints for this one: the lower viewpoint and the upper viewpoint.
The lower viewpoint is further away from the arch, but is only a hop, skip and jump from the parking lot. The upper lookout point is further down the trail, but has a better and more up close view of the arch. So, you can choose which one you want to experience.
We chose to go to the lower lookout point because we didn’t want to hike any further.
Balanced Rock is right next to the road, so it is easy to get a good look at without even stopping. However, if you want a more up close look or if you want to spend more time getting photos, you can park.
I would recommend seeing this one on your way out of the park at the end of your visit.
Park Avenue Trail
The last stop on our plan for spending one day at Arches National Park is Park Avenue Trail. Like Balanced Rock, this is not actually an arch, but it is a fantastic viewpoint.
Like Delicate Arch, there is a viewpoint right by the parking lot or a trail to hike down to get a better look at the building-like rocks.
This is an excellent last parting shot before ending your day in this amazing park.
Tips for Spending One Day at Arches National Park
Of course, if you want to really dive into Arches and hike its trails, you will probably want to spend more time, but if you only have one day at Arches National Park, you can easily see the best and most beautiful vistas.
These tips will help you make the most of your day:
- Get started early! Not only will a super early start allow you to see more in your one day in the park, but it will help you to beat the crowds and easily find parking spots!
- Head to the park before sunrise to see the arches in an explosion of color during sunrise.
- Start at the back of the park and work your way towards the front in order to escape the crowds.
- Don’t forget to stop in at the Visitor’s Center to get your national park passport stamped.
- Bring your camera and take tons of photos. The arches are so photogenic!
- Have a plan of the arches you want to see, so you won’t waste time being indecisive while in the park.
- Bring water to stay hydrated, especially in the summer when it’s hot.
- Grab a park map to get you on track while you are exploring the park.
- If you have questions, look for a park ranger. There are several of them on duty throughout the park.
- Please park in the designated parking spaces. Don’t park on the side of the road or block other people in.
Arches National Park is an amazing park to visit. It is my new favorite national park. The views are so unique and beautiful! But one reason I love this park so much is that it is easy to see the best of it in just one day. I hope these tips help you make the most of your day at Arches National Park!
Visit Arches website for up to the minute details when planning your trip. Enjoy!
For more info on visiting national parks, see our posts on White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Grand Canyon with kids, and Mount Alava. And discover Waffle Love, the best family friendly restaurant in Salt Lake City!
And check out my list of the best family travel experiences in the United States for more trip ideas!
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