When on a road trip to the Utah Mighty 5 you’ll want to spend at least one day in Arches National Park, arguably one of the best National Parks to visit! This park has the largest concentration of natural stone arches in the world so you won’t want to miss it.
Yes the park has recently implemented a timed entry permit system, yes the park gets extremely crowded at times, and yes, you can still have an epic one day in Arches National Park. I’m here to show you how!
In this post I’ll guide you through how to get into the park without a timed entry, what is worth seeing and doing, and give you plenty of tips to have an epic day. Keep scrolling to plan your Arches National Park one day itinerary.
Hey! Just so you know the below links contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through my links (at no extra cost to you). You can visit my disclosure for more info.
One Day In Arches National Park Itinerary
In typical Karabou fashion I’ve planned the ultimate Arches National Park one day itinerary which is jam packed with hikes and sights to see. This post will guide you through important facts about visiting Arches and how to plan your visit with additional tips for a smooth day.
While this itinerary is geared towards the adventurous hiker who likes to fit in as much as they can, it can be tweaked for those who aren’t able to hike as far or as steep of trails.
If you’re looking for more mobility accessible parts of the park check out this page on nps.gov! It gives descriptions of many areas throughout the park.
Below is an overview of the highlights you’ll be seeing:
- Turret Arch
- North Window
- South Window
- Double Arch
- Devil’s Garden Trail
- Delicate Arch
Arches National Park Important Facts
First, let’s go over some important facts about the park that every visitor should know. This will help you be prepared and plan accordingly.
General Park Information
- Location | Moab, Utah
- Hours Of Operation | Open 365 days a year 24/7.
- Visitor Center | Open from 9am – 4pm but closed on select holidays.
- Conveniences | There is no food, gas, or lodging within the park.
- Fees/ Permits | Timed entry permit, backpacking permits, and camping fees.
- Activities | Ranger programs, 4-wheeling, stargazing, bicycling, hiking, backpacking, and canyoneering.
Park Reservations + Timed Entry
The park is open year round however from April 1st through October 31st a timed entry permit is required for each vehicle. The timed entry runs daily between those dates from 7am – 4pm. I highly suggest trying to plan a couple months in advance as the peak seasons could be booked.
You can purchase your permit online from recreation.gov.
Each reservation requires a fee of $2 and you still have to pay the park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle or present a National Park’s pass upon arrival. If you plan on visiting 3 or more National Parks it is very cost effective to purchase the America The Beautiful Pass. It is a one time purchase that is good for a year and gets you entry into all U.S. National Parks!
If you aren’t able to obtain a timed entry don’t worry because you’re able to enter without a permit before 7am or after 4pm! What I normally do and highly suggest, especially if you’re just spending one day in Arches National Park, is to arrive for sunrise well before 7am. Easy-peasy!
Getting Around Arches National Park
Unlike many other National Parks, Arches doesn’t offer public transportation or a shuttle bus within the park. While there are a few ways to get around, the easiest is to drive your own vehicle. You can drive the main road throughout the park which will bring you to all of the parking lots near the trailheads.
Driving during peak seasons and times can get tricky between the traffic and limited parking. This is one reason I suggest arriving before the timed entry begins and the crowds start rolling in.
Be sure to have enough gas in the tank! The Scenic Drive goes to the end of the park and is 18 miles one way. On the way in you’ll wind up the side of a mountain which sucks up extra gas. This itinerary does include driving to the end of the park.
Can I Bring My Dog To Arches National Park?
Believe me I understand our fur babies are our children and we want to take them everywhere. But the truth is most Southern Utah National Parks aren’t that dog friendly. While Arches National Park allows dogs to enter the park they are very restricted with where they can go. For this reason I don’t suggest bringing your dog.
They are not able to enter the Visitor Center or any building, accompany you on any of the trails, or stop at any of the overlooks. They are, however, allowed in established areas as well as established campgrounds and picnic areas. Two designated areas for walking dogs are Cache Valley Road and Willow Springs.
It is illegal to leave your pet in vehicles inside National Parks. The interior of vehicles heat up fast and can be 20-30 degrees warmer than outside. This can happen in just 10-15 minutes. Please do not leave your pet in your car at any time.
Is One Day In Arches National Park Enough?
So, how many days do you need in Arches National Park? You’ll be happy to hear that it is possible to spend one day in Arches National Park and experience a lot! Get ready for an epic (but long) day because you’ll be walking under some massive arches.
Compared to other parks Arches doesn’t actually have a crazy amount of hiking miles available. There are several short trail options that allow you to quickly witness the beautiful sights without much effort.
Best Time To Visit Arches National Park
Now that you know spending at least one day in Arches is possible, it is time to plan when you’ll go. Luckily the park is open year round but there are some seasons more comfortable and safer than others.
April, May, September, and October are by far the most comfortable months for visiting and hiking in Arches National Park. Average temperatures range from 60-80 degrees which is not too hot or too cold. You’ll still want to check the daily high temperature and plan accordingly because the desert sun can be brutal. These are the busiest months of the park, though, so you may be fighting crowds.
Winter months are also do-able if you’re willing to brave the cold. The major perk of visiting Arches during winter is that there are less people. Winter storms can make the trails icy, slippery, and at times close the park so have a back up plan and be flexible.
Summer is not a season I’d ever recommend visiting. I know it can be hard with our work schedules and kid’s school times, but the summer temperatures can reach 100+ degrees and that is not safe or enjoyable hiking weather. Heavy rainstorms and monsoons happen often during summer which can cause flash flooding and make the park extremely dangerous to be in.
Best Time Of Day
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it- sunrise is THE time to be in Arches! You’ll want to get an early start to your day to make the most of it but also to skip the timed entry and lines. During the warmer months you’ll also want to beat the heat.
Evening is also a great time to be inside the park- especially for sunset. Arches National Park is the perfect place for astrophotography and stargazing. But, unless this is your only purpose for a visit, you’ll want to arrive much earlier. Watching the sun rise behind the arches is a magical experience you won’t want to miss.
Arches National Park In One Day
Are you ready to see some arches? We’re going to hike 5 amazing trails and see 12 arches in one day, and while that may seem like a lot, most of these trails are short and easy. This also means you should be able to take your time and not feel rushed through the itinerary.
We’re going to begin this epic one day in Arches National Park by watching sunrise at Turret Arch, which is part of The Windows Section. This section of the park hosts a handful of amazing arches all in 1.0 mile of walking distance- Turret Arch, North Window, South Window, and Double Arch. The trail is short and easy with just gradual inclines.
1. Turret Arch
Hiking Distance | Part of The Windows 1.0 mile
Difficulty | Easy
Your first stop in Arches National Park should be Turret Arch for sunrise! This arch is very underrated. So much so that I never heard of it until I visited the park myself. Turret Arch is massively tall and hosts an additional hole in the rock just to the left of it.
While most visitors race to Delicate Arch for sunrise, Turret Arch is just as good and hosts less people, if any. It also is very accessible from the park entrance and only requires a short walk from the parking lot. To me, this is a lot quicker and easier than hiking several miles in the dark to Delicate Arch.
I suggest arriving before the sun has risen and climb up on the rocks under the archway. Sit in Turret Arch and look out towards North and South Windows to witness the sun peaking behind them. Once the sun has risen behind the formations, you can walk out to get a far away view of Turret Arch and marvel at how tall it really is. At this point the sun will be highlighting the reddish-orange rock, which I just love.
Visiting Turret Arch first just makes sense logistically. It is one of the first main stops in the park and you’ll be able to park and experience several arches at once. Afterwards, you’ll continue to drive deeper into the park before most other visitors have even arrived. This greatly helps you miss all of the traffic jams on the roads and in parking lots!
2. North & South Windows
Hiking Distance | Part of The Windows 1.0 mile
Difficulty | Easy
From Turret Arch you can see North and South Windows off in the Distance- two giant arches that create the perfect ‘windows’ for peering through. There is a short and easy trail that leads you from Turret Arch over to these formations. After the sun has risen head down the North Window Trail.
You’ll come to a T in the trail with the option to continue down North Window Trail to North Window, or take a right to loop around and see the South Window from a viewpoint, and continue to loop around past North Window. I highly suggest taking a peek at the park map so all of this makes sense.
North Window is arguably the most impressive of the two and has a series of stone steps that lead up under it. You can’t go wrong either way you hike- just explore a little and appreciate the arches from all different views!
3. Double Arch
Hiking Distance | 0.6 miles RT
Difficulty | Easy
From North and South Windows there is a short connector trail that will lead you over to Double Arch. I like to end The Window Section with a bang because I think Double Arch is the most impressive and also the most fun to scramble up in! It is the tallest arch and second longest in the park. If you’re only going to spend one day in Arches National Park this is one you don’t want to miss.
The scramble up under Double Arch is steep, sandy, and can sometimes be slippery. You don’t have to climb up into the arches to appreciate them though. Feel free to stand back and take in the grandness of it all…but if you do want to explore a little, it is fun!
After your little adventure at Double Arch, walk back to your car and hop it for a ride deeper into Arches National Park.
4. Devil’s Garden Trail
Hiking Distance | 1.9 – 7.8 miles
Difficulty | Easy – Moderate
Are you ready for the longest hike of your day? The park road dead ends at a parking lot which hosts the trailhead for Devil’s Garden Trail. This is a must-see for your Arches National Park one day itinerary because you get to witness 7 different arches!
The arch formations are listed below, in clockwise order:
- Tunnel Arch
- Pine Tree Arch
- Landscape Arch
- Partition Arch
- Najavo Arch
- Double O Arch
- Private Arch
What makes Devil’s Garden Trail so great is that you can pick and choose what you want to see. The entire trail is a 7.8 mile loop with a few spur trails that detour to other arches. If you want to keep it short then you can hike just 1.9 miles round trip to see Landscape Arch, the longest natural arch in the park let alone the entire world!
7 arches is a lot to briefly cover, so I highly suggest taking a look at the nps.gov trail description and overall map. It will help put things into perspective for you and plan whether you’re going to do the entire trail or only hike to certain ones along the way.
I will say that the trail to Landscape Arch is pleasant and easy, but beyond this formation the trail does become more moderately difficult. You’ll have some short but steep climbs and one long section of slippery and steep scrambling.
Hiking the entire Devil’s Garden Trail is worth it though, and you’ll have plenty of time to do so with your one day in Arches National Park.
At this point you’ll most likely be starving and since Arches doesn’t have any services or food within it, you’ll need to pack in some food. Plan ahead and pack lunch or at the very least plenty of snacks. If you find yourself getting too hungry before sunset, hike Delicate Arch early and go back to Moab for some good grub!
5. Delicate Arch
Hiking Distance | 3.0 miles RT
Difficulty | Moderate
After hiking Devil’s Garden, and hopefully enjoying a relaxing lunch break somewhere in-between, head to Delicate Arch, Arch’s most popular formation. Depending on the time of year the sunset could be anywhere between 6pm and 8pm, so if timing Delicate Arch for sunset isn’t in the cards for you that is okay! But if it is, I highly suggest being able to witness sunset here.
There are 3 different ways to view Delicate Arch:
- Hike the 3.0 miles and get up close and personal with it.
- View it from a mile away at the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint (100 yard walk).
- Get a little closer and view it from the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint (0.5 mile walk).
Of course for the best experience and to truly appreciate this free standing arch I suggest hiking the Delicate Arch Trail right up to it!
The Delicate Arch Trail was a tad more difficult than I was expecting so I rated it moderate. There are a few very steep walks up exposed rock and while it wasn’t slippery it was difficult to follow the trail at times. For the average hiker the grade can be difficult let alone trail navigation.
But if you’re willing to tough it out you’ll be rewarded with a walk under the park’s most famous free standing arch!
Where To Eat In Moab
After your long yet epic one day in Arches National Park you are sure to have worked up an appetite. Moab has several good restaurants downtown with outdoor patios and overall fun environments. Below are my three go-to restaurants:
- The Blu Pig (best BBQ)
- Moab Diner
- Moab Brewery
Tips For Visiting Arches
- Arrive for sunrise to beat the crowds and miss the timed entry permits.
- Visit during the week if you can to miss the weekend crowds.
- Don’t rely on cell service! It can be non-existent or very spotty throughout the park.
- Look at the park map online ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the area.
- Delicate Arch is THE arch to see in the park but there most likely will be a line to walk up to it and snap photos…especially at sunrise during peak seasons. Be one of the first or arrive later in the day, possibly for sunset.
- Bring plenty of water! More than you think you’ll need.
- Arches National Park can get very windy so don’t forget your layers.
Helpful Gear For Your Hikes
- Sturdy hiking shoe or boot. It is going to be a long day in Arches National Park and you want to be sure your feet are taken care of. In the desert I love wearing my Adidas Terrex Hiking Shoe which has excellent grip. But if it is cold or wet out I prefer to wear my Salomon X Ultra 3 Boot since they are waterproof and provide extra ankle support.
- Hiking pack with water reservoir. Keep your hands free during hikes by packing everything in a supportive day hiking pack like the Osprey Skarab 30. Pair it with a 2.5L water reservoir which makes sipping water on the go much easier. It also replaces the need for plastic water bottles!
- Hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are a must in the desert! To help protect myself from the sun I like using Coola Sunscreen because it is organic and safe for both myself and the outdoor environment. If I wear a hat I usually wear my Under Armor cap or a bucket hat for more coverage.
Recap: An Epic One Day In Arches National Park
I’ve been to Arches National Park twice now and have been able to experience different parts of the park, including camping at their campground! Waking up inside the park was an experience I won’t ever forget and highly suggest to visitors. It is not only peaceful but also very convenient because you don’t have to wake up as early or wait in line at the entry.
You won’t regret spending one day in Arches. It is an absolutely beautiful National Park jam packed with the largest amount of natural arches in the world. The must-do’s are definitely Double Arch and Delicate Arch, so make sure to visit at least those two while you’re there.
I hope this guide has been able to help you plan an epic one day inside Arches National Park!
You May Also Like:
- Hiking and Camping at Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah
- How To Spend One Day In Bryce Canyon National Park
- 8 Best Bryce Canyon Winter Hikes And Things To Do
- EVERYTHING to know about driving Cottonwood Canyon Road, Utah
- Complete Hole in the Rock Road Hiking and Camping Guide
I’d love to hear from you!
Did this guide help you plan your one day in Arches National Park? Or do you have questions/comments? Share in the comments below!