Arches National Park is best viewed on foot and some of my favourite hikes so far were in Arches National Park. Sure, you can drive around it pretty easily and see some incredible scenery. But, to really experience it you’re going to have to get out of your car, put on some good shoes, grab a bottle of water and get hiking.
The good news is that none of these hikes need take you days to complete. Even the longest maintained hike (there’s some that have unmaintained trails which will take several days) will only take half a day to complete. Nothing is too steep either so the hikes are accessible to most people. We saw people of all ages, fitness and preparedness hiking so you’ve got no excuse!
These are the best hikes half day hikes in Arches National Park – don’t forget your water!
Note: In 2017 the National Park Service are carrying out massive refurbishments to Arches National Park. This means that from Sunday to Thursday the park closes at 7pm and opens again at 7am. Everyone has to be out of the park by then. Remember to time your hikes accordingly and don’t try to cram too much in. It also means you won’t be able to do sunrise or sunset hikes unless you’re visiting on a Friday (sunset), Saturday or Sunday (sunrise).
Devil’s Garden Trail
The Devil’s Garden Trail is the longest maintained trail in Arches National Park and it’s also the best day hike in Arches National Park. It’ll take you a long time, but if you’re fairly speedy you’ll be able to fit in this in the morning and the hike to Delicate Arch in the afternoon as we did.
On the Devil’s Garden Trail you’ll pass; Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, Double O Arch, Private Arch and the Dark Angel. You can see what all of these look like in my write up of the Devil’s Garden Trail.
Once you’ve got to Double O Arch you can choose whether you’ve got the energy (or time) to hike to Dark Angel. It’s only a short walk further and it’s a pretty cool rock but not as cool as the arches. From Dark Angel you’ll have to walk back the way you came to Double O Arch and from here you can decide whether to repeat your steps or go along the primitive trail.
The primitive trail has one extra arch, Private Arch, and it’s pretty quiet. There’s more rock scrambling on this section of the trail which makes it all the more fun! I’d definitely recommend it.
Delicate Arch Trail
The second best half day hike in Arches National Park has to be the hike to Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is undoubtedly one of the most impressive arches in the whole park. It’s not supported within a larger, more stable looking rock like the other arches and stand along on the top of a cliff.
The hike here is fun but it is busier as the arch is the most recognisable part of Arches National Park. It’s also the arch on many Utahn’s license plates.
This hike is pretty exposed so make sure to take plenty of water and stay on the lookout for the cairns (stacked up rocks) which mark the way you should go.
Broken Arch Trail & Tapestry Arch
This trail crosses a big meadow as you head from the parking lot over to the arch. You can add an extra mile to the trail if you wish by heading over towards Tapestry Arch. Be aware that this extra mile involves quite a bit more scrambling than the first 1.3 miles!
These trails were probably the quietest ones we saw in the whole of Arches National Park.
The Windows & Turret Arch
This is a very easy and quick trail to do and you can add an extra 1/2 mile by heading over to Double Arch before or after visiting the windows.
From the windows you’ll also be able to see Turret Arch, I think the best view of Turret Arch is from The Windows but you can walk up closer to Turret Arch if you wish.
Return via the same trail you took or take the slightly longer (more fun) primitive trail which loops around the back The Windows. We saw absolutely no one on the primitive trail. It wasn’t tricky, nothing like the primitive trail on the Devil’s Garden Trail and I’d highly recommend it as an alternative way to get back to the car!
This is the first trail you’ll come across upon entering Arches National Park. It’s fairly steep to begin with as you descend into the canyon. Then you’ll go past Courthouse Towers (impressive rock formations) and finishes up near Sheep Rock.
A lot of people seem to arrange for someone to drive the mile and pick them up at the end of the trail but obviously you could just walk back the way you came.