Arches National Park attracts millions of visitors each year. They flock to view the thousands of unbelievable sandstone arches that grace the area. Hiking is the best way to get up close to these natural wonders at Arches National Park.
This complete Arches Hiking guide is a must-have resource for all visitors.
Top 5 Hikes at Arches
The top 5 hikes (based on popularity) at Arches National Park are:
- Delicate Arch
- The Windows
- Landscape Arch at Devil’s Garden
- Balanced Rock
- Double Arch at the Windows
If you want to check out more than hiking trail at Arches, our Ultimate Guide to Arches National Park: Trip Itineraries and Insider Tips for Your Visit includes many other types of activities available in and around the park.
How to Prepare for a Hike
Preparation needed for hiking any moderate or difficult trail at Arches includes:
- Take at least 2L (2 quarts) of drinking water for each person.
- Wear shoes with good grip and preferably closed toes.
- Protect yourself from the sun with a hat, sunglasses, protective clothing and sunscreen.
- Be ready to save yourself. Most hiking trails at Arches do not have cellular reception. Bring a first aid kit so you can help yourself or someone else if injured.
- Bring snacks just in case. Prepare to be on the trail longer than expected.
- Prepare for weather. Bring an extra layer for warmth and rain gear just in case.
- Download an offline map of the trail and know how to use it. I have used both the free maps on Avenza and the paid AllTrails Premium app for Arches National Park hiking trials.
- Charge your phone or bring a battery bank. A downloaded map on a dead phone is useless.
Best Sunrise Hikes at Arches
The best hikes for sunrise photography at Arches are:
- The Windows Loop – Turret and North Window are gorgeous at sunrise
- Devil’s Garden Loop – Partition Arch frames sunrise beautifully for photographs.
Best Sunset Hikes at Arches
The most popular hikes for sunset at Arches are:
- Delicate Arch – Prepare for crowds of people taking photos with the Arch. Sunrise is less crowded but also less picturesque.
- The Windows Loop – The Best views require a short scramble through the North Window and up the slickrock.
- Balanced Rock – This 0.3-mile trail is great for those looking for an easier option.
If you are worried about crowds at Arches be sure to read How to Avoid Crowds at Arches National Park before you visit.
Family Hikes at Arches
Based on multiple trips to Arches, we saw the most families with younger children at the Windows and Devil’s Garden hikes.
However, I would definitely recommend the Sand Dune Arch to families with any age child. The entry to the path is a bit narrow so prepare to take off baby carriers for a short section.
The Sand Dune Arch Trail is a 0.4-mile round trip. The arch is located in a shady but wide canyon with a naturally created sandbox.
Bring a sand toy for the little ones.
Other family hikes at Arches include:
- The Windows is a 1-mile roundtrip gravel trail and includes up-close views of Turret Arch, and the North and South windows.
- Landscape Arch at Devil’s Garden is 1.8-mile roundtrip on a hard-packed trail. It includes three arches. If your family cannot hike 1.8 miles, then a shorter option is to visit the first two arches, Pine Tree and Tunnel Arch which is significantly shorter.
Easy Hiking Trails at Arches National Park
If you are limited on time, worried about extreme weather, or are just looking for an easy hike, don’t worry we can help with that.
The majority of the hiking trails in Arches National Park are rated as easy. This means if you are able to walk a mile without difficulty, you should be fine. Some trails do have uneven ground so proper footwear is always recommended.
Easy rated hikes at Arches include:
|Easy Trails at Arches National Park||Roundtrip Distance||Elevation Change|
|Nature Trail @ Visitor Center||150 ft (45m)||0 ft|
|Balanced Rock||0.3 mi (0.4km)||35 ft (11m)|
|The Windows||1 mi (1.6km)||99 ft (30m)|
|Double Arch @ The Windows||0.6 mi (1 km)||30 ft (10m)|
|Delicate Arch Viewpoints||200 ft (61 m)||0 ft|
|Sand Dune Arch||0.4 mi (0.6km)||0 ft|
|Broken Arch||1.4 mi (2.3km)||59 ft (18m)|
|Skyline Arch||0.4 mi (0.6km)||28 ft (8m)|
|Landscape Arch @ Devils Garden||1.8 mi (2.9km)||40 ft (12m)|
|Courthouse Wash Panel||0.8 mi (1.4km)||60 ft (18m)|
Short hikes at Arches
There are several short hikes at Arches worth visiting. We enjoyed the Delicate Arch viewpoint, Sand Dune Arch and Double Arch.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
There are two trail options at Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Upper and Lower. Both are very short trails at Arches and offer a view of the most famous arch in Utah, the Delicate Arch. There is a canyon dividing the Viewpoint hikers from Delicate Arch so do not expect access.
The Lower Viewpoint is within sight of the parking lot and requires no elevation gain. The Upper Viewpoint requires about 1/4 mile uphill on natural steps. But if you make the climb you’ll be rewarded with great sweeping views.
Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch is a short hike and can be done in less than a 0.5-mile roundtrip. Surprisingly, it was one of the least crowded arches we visited in the park.
The majority of the walk is in deep sand and not ideal for those with mobility issues.
Kids of all ages love the Sand Dune Arch area of Arches National Park because it is a natural giant sandbox. It is a very family-friendly hiking option at Arches.
Double Arch at The Windows
The Double Arch is a short hike in the Windows area of Arches National Park. Double Arch is a 0.6-mile walk on a relatively flat trail and can be accessed by most.
We noticed some visitors climb around the base and a little higher at the Double Arch but it’s not necessary for a great view.
Moderate Hiking Trails at Arches
The majority of the hiking trails in Arches National Park are rated as easy or difficult which leaves only one moderately rated option.
The only moderate rated hiking trail at Arches is:
|Moderate Hiking Trail at Arches National Park||Roundtrip Distance||Elevation Change|
|Park Avenue||3.6 miles (6.4 km)||322 ft (98m)|
Difficult Hiking Trails at Arches
The remainder of the hiking trails in Arches National Park are rated as difficult. This means only visitors with good mobility and appropriate preparation should attempt these hiking trails.
The difficult rated hiking trails at Arches are:
|Difficult Hiking Trails at Arches National Park||Roundtrip Distance||Elevation Change|
|Delicate Arch||3 mi (4.8km)||538 ft (164m)|
|Tower Arch @ Klondike Bluffs (access via dirt road)||2.6 mi (4.2km)||290 ft (89m)|
|Double O Arch @ Devil’s Garden||4.0mi (6.4km)||275 ft (84m)|
|Devil’s Garden Loop (our Best hike in Arches)||7.9 mi (12.7km)||286 ft (87m)|
|Fiery Furnace (permit or tour required)||varies||varies|
Fiery Furnace Recommendations
Fiery Furnace is a section of sandstone canyons that create a maze-like natural structure. It requires agility to explore and a solid sense of direction will greatly help since there is no defined trail.
Dead-end canyons are common and GPS does not work well due to the tall sandstone walls. To avoid damage to fins and other rock features in Fiery Furnance, hikers must stay on bare rock or in drainages.
As of 2022, the Fiery Furnace area of the park has restricted access. It can only be accessed on a ranger-led hike or for those with a self-guided day-use permit.
Both guided tour and individual permit reservations must be obtained on recreation.gov. Reservations cannot be used in place of an actual permit. Reservation holders must collect permits in person the day before at the Moab Visitor Center or the day of at the Arches Visitor Center.
Can you do Fiery Furnance without a guide?
You can do Firery Furnace at Arches National Park without a guide but you’ll need a self-guided permit. The permit is only valid for day use and backcountry camping is not permitted at Fiery Furnace.
For free camping options check out Arches National Park Camping: Options from Free to Luxury in Moab.
Best Hike in Arches National Park
The best hike in Arches National Park for viewing arches is the Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop.
You can see eight unique arches on the 7.8-mile loop.
In my opinion, the best hikes are a little longer and more challenging. This keeps the crowds smaller and provides a better chance to connect with nature.
Not sure about your reasonings for hiking, but I hike so I can surround myself with nature, away from everyday life.
Based on my criteria, the best hike at Arches National Park is the 7.8-mile Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop.
Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop Hike
My primary goal at Arches National Park was to hike the Devils Garden primitive loop, the longest maintained trail in the whole park. I am afraid of heights and the National Park guide warns the loop should be avoided by those with a fear of heights.
I spent a lot of time researching and decided to challenge myself. Overall I do not regret the decision and am very proud I completed the 7.8-mile loop.
8 Arches in a Single Hike
We saw eight arches on the Devils Garden loop hiking trail at Arches and each one was just as exciting as the last.
The first mile of the trail is a wide well-maintained gravel path that leads to the first three arches. However, the crowds at the first three arches vastly outnumbered the total number of hikers we saw on the remaining six miles of trail.
Can I hike Devil’s Garden if I have a fear of heights?
Honestly, I had a couple of questionable moments during the hike. If you have any phobias, you probably understand questionable moments more than others.
During these moments, I had to repeatedly focus on breathing deeply while practicing positive self-talk. My competing internal voices were both proudly screaming “you can do anything because you are a badass” and mumbling under her breath “they warned you in the brochure”.
There is a Reason for Warnings
A few of the scarier sections had warnings posted which were both nice to know but at the same time, they were anxiety triggers.
As the trail narrowed leading to a 100-yard traverse over a slick rock fin, one of the nearby hikers slipped. Thankfully she only slid a short distance before catching herself. I was already nervous about falling while walking across the fin and seeing someone else slide validated my fear of falling.
Other hikers stopped along the top of the fin to take pictures of the sweeping views. I kept my eyes on Kevin’s feet directly in front of me and practiced my deep breathing and positive self-talk. I couldn’t enjoy the views until I was back on solid ground but I fought my fears and crossed that fin.
How Strenuous is the Devil’s Garden Trail?
The Devils’ Garden primitive loop hike wasn’t boring and the trail crossed over several sections of rock fins which included some minor climbing. I would rate it as moderately strenuous in mild temperatures. However, the National Park Service rates this as a difficult trail.
I am on the short side of 5’5” and normally love being short. However, on this hike, a few extra inches would have been helpful when jumping between obstacles.
I used my arms to provide extra lift or lower myself at several points along the trail so I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with limited mobility.
With a good fitness level and determination, I think most people could do the Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop hike at Arches National Park.
Summary: Arches National Park Hiking Guide
Hiking at Arches National Park can be a very rewarding way to view some of the park’s amazing natural sandstone arches. We highly recommend the Devil’s Garden primitive loop and the Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch combo for those who are seeking solitude among the arches.