Arches National Park is an adventure for all
Dotted with 2,000 sandstone arches and boasting hiking trails ranging in length from a mere 100 yards to more than 7 miles, Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah, offers something for everyone who relishes exploring the outdoors.
And with Arches being less than a two-hour drive from Grand Junction, visitors can make it as little as a half-day diversion or as much as a multi-day excursion.
Entrance fees, which are good for seven days, are $5 for individuals or $10 per carload.
Start your trip with a tour of the Arches Visitor Center just inside the park’s entrance, where you can get an overview of the park, learn about ranger-led activities and plan your day. The visitor center is open 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. through the end of October.
Nine of the 13 marked trails are 2 miles or less round-trip, making them navigable for novice hikers and children. But Arches also boasts hikes that test the more adventuresome set.
The Devils Garden Primitive Loop is more than 7 miles long and leads to eight arches. Expect narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and slickrock scrambling. Hikers can also access the Fiery Furnace, a maze of narrow sandstone canyons and fins that contains no marked trails. But those who want to explore the area must obtain a permit for a fee at the visitor center because the area has suffered resource damage due to increased visitation.
Delicate Arch is the park’s most recognizable feature, the one that stands out on Utah’s license plate. The 3-mile roundtrip Delicate Arch hike climbs in elevation, exposes you to the elements and concludes with a 200-yard scamper across a rock ledge. Once you round the corner, however, you’ll understand why photographers lug tripods up the trail hours in advance of sunrise and sunset to grab the best vantage point or catch the light just right.
If you prefer to stay in your car most of the time, Arches’ roads are paved and well-marked with pullouts and overviews that take you by several natural features. With stops at a couple of viewpoints and a short stroll under one of the arches, you can drive the park’s entire loop road system in about an hour and a half.
Be aware that summer in the Utah desert is blistering and requires some precautions. Wear a hat and comfortable hiking shoes and socks. Lather on the sunscreen and carry plenty of water.
If you want more information about Arches, nps.gov/arch has a plethora of information.
To reach Arches, head west on Interstate 70. Take either of the Cisco exits and head south on Utah Highway 128, following the Colorado River. Once you reach the intersection with Utah Highway 191, turn right, or north. The entrance to the park is just up the road.