Arches National Park: Utah’s Mighty 5 pt. 2
Hello, and welcome to Day 2 of my series on Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks!
In honor of National Park Week, I decided to finally share our awesome Spring Break trip from a few years ago, when we explored 4 of the 5 Utah parks. If you missed yesterday, Day 1, go to my post all about Canyonlands National Park! We started the week long road trip on Monday at the Island in the Sky district there, and by Wednesday eventually made it to the Needles district.
But, before Needles district, we took Tuesday, and some of Wednesday, to go hiking in the sand at one of America’s most famous National Parks.
Arches National Park!
The park consists of 73,234-acres, and over 2,000 arches throughout!
Interesting fact: Did you know that an arch is only considered an arch if one side is at least 3 feet wide? I didn’t know there were specifications to become an arch, but there are!
After eating breakfast at our hotel in Green River, we drove straight to the park. The line to get into the park was already winding down the road, but moved quickly. Once in the park, we took in the sights of The Organ, Courthouse Towers, Tower of Babel, and the Petrified Dunes on our way to our first stop, Balanced Rock.
The easy, and paved, 0.3 mile roundtrip walk, takes you right up next to the 128 feet tall rock. It’s amazing that the 3,600 ton tower hasn’t toppled over yet, but it’s standing strong and is quite the sight!
Our next stop was the Windows Section. In this area we saw Turret Arch, the North and South Windows, and Double Arch.
On an easy 1.2 mile loop, you can walk to the North and South Windows, then right up to Turret Arch. As our first real hike of the day, it was the perfect way to start off. Bubs was ALL over the place, climbing on rocks and running the stairs. He was determined to climb up to look through Turret Arch, but he got about half way before deciding maybe he was ok with just viewing it from below, haha.
Through the arch you get amazing views for miles around, and it frames the Parade of Elephants and Cove of Caves.
Double Arch was quite the sight!
A very easy 0.5 mile round trip walk leads you through the sand right onto the base of the arch. We scrambled around the rocks and under the massive stone archway until it became too crowded.
Hint: Get to the park (and any of the parks in general) early! The earlier you get into the park, the less crowded it will be. And if you’re lucky, you may even have some of the trails to yourself!
In the picture below, just on the other side of that arch is a MAJOR drop-off! We only let Bubs climb this high because we knew that, but he was itching to get to that opening. He was like a little mountain goat!
Of course a trip to Arches National Park wouldn’t be complete without seeing the iconic Delicate Arch.
Now, we didn’t do the real Delicate Arch hike that takes you right up to the massive stone structure. This hike is 3 miles roundtrip and steadily climbs 480 feet in elevation. Bubs would have probably been able to do it, but we didn’t want to risk it to find out otherwise.
The hike we did was the Delicate Arch Upper Viewpoint. It was 0.5 miles out and back, easy. There were some stone stairs to climb, but it was quick, and we had no problems with the kids.
If stairs aren’t your things, there is the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint that covers 0.7 miles on a level walking path.
The views from this point were beautiful! The arch was still spectacular even if we weren’t very close to it. But, now we know we have something we want to go back to Arches to do someday! And once the kids are a little bigger, they will be able to appreciate it more, too.
Again, finding ALL of the caves to explore!
After getting back to the car, the plan was to continue on through the park, but when we reached the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint plans changed. We hopped out for a look around and almost immediately hopped right back in.
A storm was blowing in, and sand, raindrops, and cooling temps were hitting us in the faces! We debated waiting it out, but we weren’t sure how long it would last and the kids were antsy. So, we settled on leaving the park for the day, hitting the visitor’s center on the way out. Instead of exploring the park that afternoon, we explored the fun city of Moab before heading back to the hotel for swimming and a movie night.
After a good rest, we were back in Arches first thing Wednesday morning.
Our first stop for the day was in the Devils Garden section of the park to Landscape Arch.
This was our longest Arches NP hike. Just under 2 miles roundtrip, this easy and maintained trail leads you through the desert sand right up to the beautifully spanning arch.
It was the perfect morning hike. We were out early enough that we had the trail mostly to ourselves, it wasn’t hot yet, and Bubs was free to run along the trail and set the pace.
Connecting with the Landscape Arch trail, you can also find trails to more arches, such as; Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, Partition Arch, Navajo Arch, Private Arch, Double O Arch, and one that sounds most intriguing, Dark Angel Arch.
Next stop, Sand Dune Arch.
This was Bubs’ favorite hike of the day. Can you guess why??
Caves and sand everywhere!
The hike was 0.3 miles and super easy, other than the fact that you are walking through sand the entire time. By the end, we were pouring piles of sand out of our shoes!
This was probably the best kid friendly hike in the entire park, too. Bubs was thrilled to be climbing on, rolling in, running through, and touching so much soft sand. At the arch we climbed up behind it into a little nook cave that he informed us was “the perfect place to live forever.” We spent the most time at any of the attractions here, and it was hard to get him to leave.
From this area you can also find the trail head for Broken Arch, an easy, level, mile hike through the sage and desert. We were planning on venturing out there, but the wind was picking up again as another storm rolled in and we didn’t want to get stuck out there when it really hit.
But, from the Sand Dune Arch trail head you get a view of Skyline Arch, too. A cute little arch just hanging out waiting to be photographed 🙂
With the storm blowing in and having hit everything we decided we could do, we unloaded all the sand from our shoes, clothes, and hair, and got in the car to drive out. The kids were passed out within minutes. Troy and I enjoyed the views in silence, best road trip car moment of the day, haha.
Our next destination was Canyonlands Needles district, which I covered in this post, Canyonlands National Park from yesterday. Check it out if you haven’t already!
Don’t forget to check out the next park in the series… Capitol Reef National Park!