One epic day in Arches National Park
Are you planning a trip to arches, but only have one day? Here’s a complete guide on the best hikes to see all of what this magnificent park has to offer!
There are two roads we will focus on today, which have everything you would want in a national park, and will grant you access to all the sights this little (but incredible) park has to offer. Fun fact, scenic drive is only 19 miles long and holds some staggering views of rock formations and arches.
Start your morning with views of the sunrise at the devil’s garden. This trail was one of my favorites and it pays off to start this one first to enjoy the park without crowds.
In Devil’s Garden, you will find your first arch just a short 0.8-mile hike from the trailhead. The Landscape Arch is massive and spans a staggering 290.1 ft wide and 77.5 ft tall! There you can take as many pictures as you want and head back to the trailhead or continue to see all eight arches the trail has to offer.
The next view is the Double O Arch, and this trail gets a little more “climb-y”. For anyone looking for an adventure, continue on the loop to the primitive trail back, where you will find the scenery you can only find on something labeled “primitive.” In my opinion, the 7.8-mile loop is a must-see for those with the itch for adventure and a good pit of hiking boots. This loop took me about 2.5 hours.
On the way back from Devil’s Garden, stop off to see the Sand Dune and Broken Arch. The short hike to the Sand Dune Arch is very, well, sandy. Make sure to bring tall socks, unless you want sand in your shoes! I ended up climbing past the arch for about 0.5 miles just for fun (I’ll climb anything I get the chance). After that, head past the field to the broken arch. Both of these trails will set you back about an hour with a total hike of 1.8 miles.
Next is the Garden of Eden, and it’s a real treat. I had to chance to spend an hour hiking around the cluster of cliffs that make up the garden, and it was well worth the stop. The cascading rocks look as if spears of mountain randomly shot out of the earth! Be careful hiking around as there are steep ledges and plenty of furry friends to steal your lunch.
The Windows and Torrent Arch are next on the list. This short 0.7mile trip will let you see both arches and give you time to even club through the arches as well!
Just across the parking lot is the trailhead for the Double Arch. This one was unexpectedly cool, with two arches with about 60° separating them. I wandered through the first arch, which leads to a swift left turn to the second arch, and continued to a rocky area where I scrambled down and back up for fun.
An unexpected delight was Park Avenue, and it was next on the list. Here were tall cascading tower rocks that encompassed the descending trek back to the main road through the park (Arches Scenic Drive), where I found the cathedral rock! I ended up hiking back the ascent and thoroughly enjoyed the two-hour excursion.
Once the park was completely hiked, I made my way back to the exit for a nice relaxing cup of tea.. or did I? The park’s most sought-after attraction and by far the most stunning is the Delicate Arch, at which I spent the most time out of all the arches.
The hike to the arch was a steady incline for a couple of miles and led to an epic look at the beautiful rock formation. There’s a giant gaping hole right in front of the arch where I dropped an earbud down to the center. Watching it drop down so far and retrieving it unscathed gave me a laugh and offered an opportunity to walk around the arch and surrounding peaks while I was down in the hole formation.
This arch was my favorite for many reasons: the hike was a blast with optional rock scrambling included, amazing sights including the arch, and friendly fellow hikers! Once I wrapped up my final activity, I made it back to my BLM base camp for the night for some hot tea and delicious homemade pizza.