Arches National Park is a beautiful unique park and a must see.
We made our trip here in late November, just after the peak season (March through October). Although it was colder than the peak season, there were fewer crowds and the hikes were amazing with the cold and crispy air. We definitely recommend this time of year.
The park has more than 1.5 million visitors per year, so parking can sometimes be rough. The park roads are easy to navigate and most of the arches are either right off the road or a short walk to see.
The restrooms are kept moderately clean but are pit toilets. They are scattered throughout the park and are at just about every trailhead.
4×4 in Arches
Many may not know this, but there is actually a decent amount of off-road trails given the smaller size of this part. Off the main highway near sand dune arch, head west to salt valley. After 7.7 miles, make a left at an intersection. Drive another 1.7 miles. This stretch is for experienced 4-wheel drive owners only. After you complete this 1.7 miles, you can stay straight and drive another 1.4 miles to arrive at the tower arch trailhead. Another option is to head south at the intersection. This will take you on a 9 mile drive. Along the way you will pass by eye of the whale arch. Note this road is still 4-wheel drive recommended and you will need high ground clearance such as that of a large stock SUV. This road wraps up back on the main highway near the south end of the park.
We decided make the trek to Delicate Arch. The hike is 4.1 miles long and takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. It is by far one of the most popular trails in the park. So parking at this location can be difficult. The earlier you arrive, the better. If you are looking to see first hand the Utah license plate mascot, this is the trail for you.
Not to Miss Viewpoint
Near the entry of the park is a little hidden gem. This scenic lookout is not visible from the main highway. But a short five minute stop here is something you won’t want to miss. Most stay at the lookout near the parking lot, but if time permits, take the short hike into the small valley for amazing views as you gaze up at these giants.