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Hiking in Arches National Park

Updated: May 23

With many national parks implementing some form of timed reservation policy due to their growing popularity, it can be a challenge when planning your trip if you don't know exactly which day you'll be in said park, or be able to accurately predict the weather on any given day in advance, and then to hope you "win" a reservation for the day and time slot you desire can all be a real crapshoot.


We've learned it can be advantageous to just get up early and arrive at the park before the timed reservations are required (or show up late in the afternoon after the reservation period has ended for the day), and then we're able to avoid the whole thing and we can typically go by our own schedule.


So, that is what we did for our second visit to Arches National Park. Our first visit was a quick stop on our roadtrip to Colorado in August 2022. Just long enough to drive through part of the park and hike to Delicate Arch. But our friends, Chad and Shannon, had never been in Arches yet, and this time around, we had all day to explore.


Delicate Arch Hike in Arches National Park


We got up super early, headed from our vacation rental in Moab to the entrance gate of Arches, and made a beeline for the Delicate Arch trailhead, which is the busiest trailhead and most popular hike in Arches, so the lot can fill up quickly if you don't arrive early. Plus, it gets hot in the midday sun, so early morning is overall more desirable.


I absolutely love the drive through Arches National Park. The rock formations are unique, massive, larger than life, and I was excited to get to do a bit more hiking amongst these formations today.


Before 7:00 a.m., we'd reached the Delicate Arch trailhead and wasted no time beginning the uphill climb.


Hiking up the slickrock trail to Delicate Arch in the early morning hours
Hiking up the steep slickrock trail to Delicate Arch in the early morning hours.

Slightly less steep slickrock section of the trail to Delicate Arch
Slightly less steep slickrock section of the trail to Delicate Arch.

Shelf trail section of Delicate Arch hike.
My favorite section of the trail, a shelf.

Even though this was my second time hiking to Delicate Arch, I was still looking forward to the fun hike there and for Chad and Shannon to see it with their own eyes. And for me to be able to see it again. The arch is an isolated remnant of a bygone fin.


Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch with the La Sal Mountains in the background
Delicate Arch with the La Sal Mountains in the background.

Delicate Arch with a faint half-moon above
Delicate Arch with a faint half-moon above.

Standing beneath Delicate Arch
Us standing beneath Delicate Arch.

Something we did not see the first time we hiked to Delicate Arch was a wedding couple getting photos taken at the arch.


A bride and groom standing beneath Delicate Arch
A bride and groom standing beneath Delicate Arch.

We asked, and she did not hike up there in her dress, and she was wearing hiking shoes, not dress shoes or high heels. The couple was from New Hampshire and they enjoy traveling and hiking, so they decided to get married in the Moab area and have wedding photos taken in Arches. Then, by coincidence, we bumped into this couple again, sans wedding attire, on another hike on this trip.


On the hike back from Delicate Arch, the early sun and blue skies made everything even more striking.


Sandstone pinnacle formation along Delicate Arch hike
Sandstone pinnacle formation along Delicate Arch hike.

A shallow pool of water on the Delicate Arch hike
A shallow pool of water on the Delicate Arch hike.

Upon our return to the trailhead parking lot, we saw a line for the bathroom that had probably 50 people in it, so the hike was definitely starting to get busy. We were glad we got their early!




Delicate Arch Viewpoint


Then we continued over to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, something we hadn't done on our previous visit to Arches. It's a short, but an ascending trail to a view of Delicate Arch from a distance. I would say, if you're able to physically complete the hike to Delicate Arch, that one is worth the closer vantage point. This distant view doesn't do it justice.


Distant view of Delicate Arch with people standing beneath it and to its left
Distant view of Delicate Arch with people standing beneath it and to its left.

Devils Garden Trail Hike in Arches National Park


Our next hike in Arches National Park: Devils Garden Trail. This is a neat hike because you can choose various routes to view several different arches. None as spectacular as Delicate Arch, in my opinion, but they were impressive in their own right, and again, the overall landscape was so interesting as we wound around its display of sandstone fins.


Walking between the fins on the trail through Devils Garden in Arches National Park
Walking between the fins on the trail through Devils Garden. This section was like a wind tunnel.

Hike to Landscape Arch


The first destination for our Devils Garden hike was Landscape Arch. This is probably a second quintessential arch in Arches, behind Delicate. Landscape Arch is one of the world's longest stone spans, stretching 306 feet, yet only about 11 feet thick at its center. In September 1991, a 60-foot-long, 11-foot-wide, 4-foot-thick slab of rock dropped from the underside of the arch's thinnest part (just to the right of the center of the arch).


Landscape Arch in Arches National Park
Landscape Arch in Arches National Park.

Landscape Arch in Devils Garden
Landscape Arch in Devils Garden.

Hike to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch


After Landscape Arch, we decided to hike up to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch, which required ascending a steep section of sandstone slickrock – a fun but slightly nerve-wracking experience.


Looking up at the steep slickrock section of trail in Devils Garden.
Looking up at the steep slickrock section of trail.

Making our way up the steep slickrock section
Making our way up the steep slickrock section.

Ascending the slickrock section
Ascending the slickrock section.

Then we reached the Navajo Arch, which didn't look all that impressive from the initial angle, but if you moved under it and looked out and through it, its uniqueness became a bit more apparent.


Navajo Arch in Devils Garden of Arches National Park
Navajo Arch in Devils Garden of Arches National Park.

A view from beneath Navajo Arch
A view from beneath Navajo Arch.

Standing beneath Navajo Arch
Standing beneath Navajo Arch.

Looking through the underside of Navajo Arch
Looking through the underside of Navajo Arch.

Following Navajo Arch, we continued on to Partition Arch, which was cool because of the view through the arch down to the valley below.


Views along the route from Navajo Arch to Partition Arch
Views along the route from Navajo Arch to Partition Arch.

Partition Arch in Devils Garden of Arches National Park
Partition Arch in Devils Garden of Arches National Park.

Looking through Partition Arch
Looking through Partition Arch.

After leaving Navajo and Partition arches behind, we had to descend the steep sandstone slickrock section, which was another slightly daunting challenge.


Looking down the steep slickrock section of trail
Looking down the steep slickrock section of trail.

Making our way down the slickrock section of the trail
Making our way down the slickrock section of the trail.

Hike to Pine Tree Arch & Tunnel Arch


Once we safely descended, we took the trail spur that headed over to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch before making our way back to the trailhead parking lot.


Pine Tree Arch in Arches National Park
Pine Tree Arch in Arches National Park.

Tunnel Arch in Arches National Park
Tunnel Arch in Arches National Park.

Fins in Devils Garden in Arches National Park
Fins in Devils Garden in Arches National Park.

Walking through the "wind tunnel" on the way back to the trailhead
Walking through the "wind tunnel" on the way back to the trailhead.



The Windows Trail Hike in Arches National Park


After leaving Devils Garden, we proceeded to the short, 1-mile loop, The Windows Trail.


Turret Arch in Arches National Park on The Windows hike
Turret Arch (we think the shape resembles Lake Tahoe).

South and North windows in Arches National Park
South (L) and North (R) windows.

South Window in Arches National Park
South Window in Arches National Park.

Fins with the La Sal Mountains in the distant background
Fins with the La Sal Mountains in the distant background.

Park Avenue Trail Hike


Our final hike in Arches National Park, before closing out the day by stopping at the visitor center, is Park Avenue Trail.


The Park Avenue hike was somewhat other worldly. Once we descended the natural stairs to the floor, the massive rock formations towering far above us and the swirl-patterned canyon bottom beneath our feet was a sight to behold.


Looking out over the canyon from the top of the stairs
Looking out over the canyon from the top of the stairs.










The 3 Gossips and the Courthouse in Arches National Park
The 3 Gossips (L) and the Courthouse (R).

Rock formation called the 3 Gossips in Arches National Park
Rock formation called the 3 Gossips.

Rock formation called The Organ in Arches National Park
Rock formation called The Organ.

Posing with the 3 Gossips
Posing with the 3 Gossips.


Making our way back to the trailhead on Park Avenue Trail
Making our way back to the trailhead on Park Avenue Trail.


Such interesting textures in the sandstone canyon floor through Park Avenue in Arches National Park
Such interesting textures in the sandstone canyon floor through Park Avenue.

Swirled texture in the canyon floor
Swirled texture in the canyon floor.

At this point in our day, even though the Park Avenue hike was short in total distance, climbing the stairs back to the parking lot felt like a major undertaking, but we made it.



I think all of us were looking forward to dinner after all this hiking, but first... a stop at the visitor center!


At the end of today, we felt we thoroughly explored a majority of the highlights in just one day and we truly enjoyed hiking in Arches National Park. Tomorrow, we will dive into Canyonlands National Park for an epic sunrise hike.


Arches National Park Visitor Center
Arches National Park Visitor Center.

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madge56
madge56
May 23

Wow! What a full day of fabulous hiking and unbelievable sites. Credit to the bride and groom for making THAT happen.

It’s hard to fathom the massiveness of these formations … until you zoom in and notice people standing there. 😉

What a fun “choose your own adventure” hike.

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As per usual, the photos don't do any of it justice! Yes, we covered a lot of ground in one day. But I wouldn't have it any other way! There's so much to see!

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This was so neat - we visited all these places so it brought back a lot of memories. So glad we made that trip. Don’t know if we will ever have that opportunity again.

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No kidding! I'm glad you and Frank did it while you had the opportunity. So much fun!

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Hi, thanks for dropping by!

I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures and checking out the photos I take along the way!

If you like what you see, please click the heart at the end of the post or leave me a comment!

-Brianna

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