- Park Size: 76,679 acres
- Elevation: 5,600 feet
Driving past the entrance of Arches National Park, climbing higher and higher along a zigzagging road, you can't help but hold your breath in anticipation of what lies ahead. Then the road traverses a hill and the full glory that is Arches unfolds before you: an expansive landscape as far as the eye can see, dotted with huge sandstone formations with such wonderful names as Balanced Rock, Tower Arch and the Fiery Furnace. The park has more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches within its confines – the most famous being Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch and Double O Arch, and seeing these graceful formations, whether from a distance or up close, is truly moving. Arches is a large place to drive through: it takes about 30 minutes from the entrance's informative Visitor Center to the park's final stop, Devil's Garden, a campground and the trailhead for one of its longest, most challenging hikes.
There are several famous hikes in Arches, and to avoid the crowds, you should plan to be there early as parking lots fill up. Delicate Arch
is renowned as a sunset spot but truly, the 1-1.5 hour hike up to Utah's most famous arch is beautiful in the early morning as well (also, there is no shade on the ascent, which makes hiking in morning temperatures more bearable). The Fiery Furnace
can and should only be tempted with a guide, as too many people get lost in its narrow, dramatic red-hued canyons. The most beautiful is Devil's Garden Primitive Loop
, which passes by eight glorious arches and traverses a large plateau with breathtaking views. At 7.2 miles, it is the longest of the maintained arches.
Who Should Go
Anyone eager to experience the red rock glory of Utah. These are the expansive, crimson landscapes you see in the movies (Thelma, Louise and Indiana Jones all have crossed through Arches) and they are truly unforgettable.