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 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 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.
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 on 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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.
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 June 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 10 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 as early as possible 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 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.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
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
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 - 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.
- 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
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
Thanks to Ray Downs a professional photographer, my friend Chris, and my friends Umamisky from Switzerland for these exceptional pictures!