You are here

Jesse Weber | 02.17.2018

In an overview of Southern Utah's complex cliffs and canyons, a map of Arches National Park may not look like much. From a distance it seems nothing more than a rocky hilltop over Moab, and its boundaries pale in comparison of size with Utah's other national parks. The wonder is not so much the scale, however, it's the intricacy of Arches that sets it apart. This park is home to the greatest concentration of stone arches in the world, and they form in a geologic wonderland of other creations like fins, domes, towers, bowls, slots, caves, and more.

The condensed area means most hikes are not very long, but you'll find something new around every corner, and the wrinkles of terrain make more legwork than you might expect. The park's most impressive arches are in nooks and crannies not visible from the road, along with many other natural works of art. So while most visitors seem satisfied by sticking to the Scenic Drive, only those who hike will see what everyone else is missing.

1. Landscape Arch

One of the most impressive spans of rock anywhere, Landscape Arch seems impossibly thin for the distance that it stretches and the height at which it soars. An easy hike of less than 2 miles roundtrip reaches the classic viewpoint.

2. Devils Garden

This is the trail to Landscape Arch, but if you pass this point at which most turn around, you will find much much more along the Devils Garden Primitive Loop. Some slickrock scrambles and sandy spur trails are all it takes to discover hidden gems like Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Double O Arch, and Dark Angel in an approximately 5-mile loop.

3. Double Arch and Windows Loop

These are two separate trails, but their proximity and short length make them worth doing together, and they provide a lot of bang for your buck. Double Arch (not to be confused with Double O Arch) may be the most unique in the park. It is made of two nearly symmetrical arches that fork from the same base on one side. Another set of twin arches, the Windows, are reached in an easy loop that also includes Turret Arch.

4. Broken Arch

A lesser seen but no less spectacular arch, Broken Arch can be found in a 2-mile loop. Begin at the Devils Garden Campground or at Sand Dune Arch Trailhead along the Scenic Drive.

5. Tower Arch

This trail sees a fraction of the crowds compared to others in the park, so it's your best chance for solitude beneath an amazing arch. The Klondike Bluffs Trailhead is removed from the rest by a long but well-maintained dirt road. This is the start of the 2.7-mile round-trip hike to Tower Arch, which has some sharp ups and downs but is not overly strenuous.

6. Delicate Arch

This is THE must-do hike for most visitors in Arches. It's the formation featured on Utah's license plate and in countless photographs--an icon of the park and the entire state. Reach Delicate Arch and its mountain backdrop with a 3-mile roundtrip that is mostly across open slickrock.

7. Fiery Furnace

For the adventurous types, Fiery Furnace is the ultimate of Arches National Park hikes. This labyrinth of fins and domes has no marked trails, but some of the most park's dazzling geology lies hidden within. You must navigate on your own or in a ranger-led tour, which are both by permit only with an additional fee.


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.