Arches National Park Utah

Arches National Park Utah

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

Arches National Park with the highest density of natural arches in the world is just mesmerizing. There are more than 2000 arches in this area waiting for you to get explored.

Arches

Arches is exceptional therefore the day visitor numbers are increasing reaching two million visitors annually soon. Nevertheless, you can beat the crowds. You'd like to know more? Continue reading for an amazing day in a fascinating landscape.

Weather and Crowds for Each Season

Windows section
Windows Section by Chris

Arches National Park is popular and therefore crowded during the day and packed at weekends. The entry is closed for hours usually 11 am and earlier until 3 pm to limit the cars inside the National Park. To dodge the crowds come either early morning or in the afternoon. The quietest time of the year is the wintertime. Ray a professional photographer of whom some of the pictures are prefers the winter as well.

Double Arch
Double Arch

The best time to visit Arches regarding the weather and crowds are from October to April. Enjoying the tranquillity of the park almost alone is best in the winter. Arches is located at 4.000 feet/ 1.200 m elevation on the Colorado plateau the reason that temperatures drop significantly at night. Rain occurs but overall only around 2.4, inches/ 60 mm only.

Spring (March-April)

North and South Window in Arches
North and South Window also called Spectacles in the Windows Section

March temperatures are already comfortable ranging from 55-64°F/13-18°C tough nights reach almost freezing temps. April is pleasant in the low 70s°F/ slightly above 20°C. Crowds are bearable except Easter. If you don't mind colder temperatures it's a great time to enjoy the magnificent arches on several trails inside the park. 

Summer (May-September)

Arches shortly before a thunderstorm

The typical summer is hot topping 100°F/40°C. If you plan to visit Moab and Arches in summer you have to be an early riser to enjoy pleasant temps and to get an entry. Night temps drop to mid 60s°F/ below 20°C. Thunderstorms can build up in the afternoon due to the heat and flash floods occur. The soil is too dry to soak in the water quickly.

Stargazering in Arches
Stargazing in Arches is mind-blowing

August is the wettest month however below 0.35 inches. May and September are warm however temps are rarely above 86°F/30°C. Although summer is the hottest time of the year it is crazy in Arches. Famous for watching the sunset from Delicate Arch, but expect crowds. Less busy after Labour Day. In summer skyrocket prices for hotels due to the high demand.

Autumn (October-November)

Sunset at Balance Rock

October is a pleasant month day temps around 71°F/ 22°C though nights temps drop significantly to 41°F/ 5°C. November is already cold in the low 50s°F/ around 10°C and nights are freezing. You may experience the first flakes of snow at the end of November. However, with proper clothing, it's an awesome time with few daytrippers except in October at the Utah Education Association break

Winter (December-February)

View to the North Window to Turret Arch
View to the North Window to Turret Arch in the back by Ray Downs

It's cold in arches temps are usually around freezing ranging from 41-23°F/ 5°C until -5°C. However, crisp blue skies and this spectacular scenery with a handful of day visitors only is definitely a pro for the wintertime. Snow occurs but not much it's just the icing on the cake for brilliant shots of this exceptional landscape.

Delicate Arch with snow in the winter

Another pro for the winter is the campground availability; first come first serve. Spikes are essential for hiking in snow and ice, especially to Delicate Arch. 

Tip:

Windows section
Windows Section

If you want to experience pleasant temperatures not too many visitors go in April, May, mid-September or October. However, IMO the winter is the best time for the Southwest. 

Update July 2021

It's Arches busiest year ever and the National Park gets frequently closed. Especially during bank holidays and weekends, the parking lot is full before 9 am. But it's not only Corona and everybody wants to get outdoors. This issue exist already a couple of years. A reservation system is needed and discussed for years already. Unfortunately, a timed entry may be the only solution but takes away the flexibility. So either come before 8 am in the morning or late in the afternoon this summer 2021. The only crowd-free season is the winter at the moment.

How Much Time is Needed for Arches?

Double Arch and night sky
Double Arch in the night by Ray Downs

Don't come in a rush to Arches; soak in the beautiful scenery, watch the sunset at Delicate Arch and stay for a night in Moab! I recommend an entire day for Arches. Moab is just a 5 miles drive to the Arches National Park Visitor Center. Arches is a designated "dark zone" and excellent for stargazing as well.

Booking.com

 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Moab, Utah
United States
United States

Arches is a photographers dream. The arches appear in different colours in one place, changing with the sunlight. There are numerous trails and outlooks in the park. Most of the arches are in proximity to the main road, so just a short walk, but some are quite a hike to reach.

Balanced Rock at sunset
Balanced Rock at Sunset

The arches scenic drive is 22 miles long one way.  The natural sandstone arches were developed by erosion and eventually crumble and collapse one day. Wall Arch collapsed already in August 2008. The long and thin Landscape Arch could be the next one.  

The Most Intriguing Arches and Hikes

Eye of the Whale Arch
Eye of the Whale Arch - picture by Ray Downs

My listing starts at the Visitor Center following the 22 miles long scenic main road to the end at Devils Garden and Campground.

 

  • Balanced Rock
    Windows Section; Double Arch, North and South Window, Turret Arch  Short trails are leading to these famous arches, plan at least an hour for the four picturesque arches.
  • Whale Eye Arch
    Escaping the crowds on this trail. You either have to hike 5 miles/ 8km or you are driving a 4x4 high clearance car.
  • Delicate Arch
    This is the most famous natural arch in the world and super busy. Utah's landmark is 52 feet/ 16 m tall. We watched a marriage in front of the arch. What an outstanding place and memory for the rest of their life. 
    The round trail is 3.5 miles/ 5.5 km long. 
  • Fiery Furnace
    Don't miss Fiery Furnace, it's not a marked trail. A guided ranger hike or a day-use permit is necessary. Exploring a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons was quite adventurous and fun!
  • Devils Garden
    Also here you may escape the crowds on the 4.2 miles/ almost 8 km long trail. Famous is Landscape Arch the biggest and thinnest of all 306 feet/ 93 m long but only 11 feet/ 3.4 m thick. It's a well-maintained track that becomes more challenging after Landscape and my favourite Navajo Arch continuing to Double O Arch.  

Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch

Packing List

  • Bring plenty of water, especially in the summer and a sandwich; there isn't any store at the entrance or inside.
  • The sun is powerful; therefore, a cap, sunscreen, and if needed, sunglasses.
  • Wear proper hiking boots, at least trainers for the uneven terrain. 
  • Crampons are essential in ice and snow, especially to Delicate Arch. 

Lots of picnic areas and restrooms are available

Camping in Arches

Campground Arches

It's a dream to camp here and we did a long time ago watching the stars in the night. A reservation is needed from March to October. It is first come first serve in the winter. It's the only opportunity to stay in Arches Getting one of the 51 sites requires a reservation of six months in advance. Reservation Link

Helpful Links:

Printable Map for Arches

Hiking trails

Arches Map 

Thanks to Ray Downs a professional photographer, my friend Chris, and my friends Umamisky from Switzerland for these exceptional pictures!

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
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