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Ultimate guide to Arches National Park (permits, must sees & more!)

Ultimate guide to Arches National Park (permits, must sees & more!)

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Are you planning on visiting Arches National Park but have questions about where it is, how much it costs, where to stay and what to do in Arches National Park? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

We visited Arches National Park as part of our three-month road trip across the USA and loved it. It was my first real American National Park experience and I was very impressed. Sure, the park gets busy but deservedly so since it’s beautiful. And, if you know the best times to go to Arches National Park you can avoid the worst of the queues.

This guide to Arches National Park covers everything from how to get there, where to stay near Arches National Park, what to do and what the weather’s like.

About Arches National Park, Utah and where is Arches National Park located?

a complete guide to arches national park near moab in utah, usaArches National Park is in the southeastern corner of Utah, USA. The closest town to Arches is Moab and not too far away there are other beautiful, but very different, National Park such as Canyonlands and Capitol Reef.

In relation to other National Parks, Arches is quite small at 310.3 km². The Grand Canyon for example is almost 5,000km²! Arches national park sits at an elevation of 5,653 feet (1,723 m) at Elephant Butte it’s highest point, and the lowest point at the visitor centre is 4,085 feet (1,245 m) high.

Due to it’s proximity to Moab and it’s popularity you may hear Arches referred to as ‘Moab National Park.

This National Park get’s its name from the rather incredible rock formations that have developed over the years. You’ll see arch formations all over, in fact, there are over 2,000 arches in Arches National Park! On top of that there are also fins and different types of rock formation in the sandstone rock in the park. With so many arches in Arches National Park you’ll never see them all but you can tick off some of the best arches with one day in Arches National Park

Besides the arches within the park’s boundaries, you may also see some outside the park. There is at least one that easily viewable from the road as you drive into Moab and there are hundreds of Utah arches throughout the state.

When is Arches National Park open?

devil's garden trail arches national park

Arches national park hours are 24/7, year round so if you’re wondering “what time does Arches National Park open?” then the answer is that it never closes!

The Arches National Park visitor centre does have opening hours and they are usually from 9am – 4pm, 7 days a week. However these do change depending on the season.

What’s the typical Arches National Park weather?

Generally the Arches National Park temperature ranges from high 20C (40F) to mid 30C (60F) over summer and the temperature at Arches National Park in winter is anywhere between 12C (40F) and -10C (18F)

The weather in Arches National Park Utah is generally dry but there is occasionally some rain and snow.

Wondering what to pack for your Arches National Park trip? See my packing list here.

Permits, passes & fees for Arches NP

devil's garden trail arches national park

Entrance fee

The Arches National Park entrance fee is $30 per vehicle (15 passengers or less) and allows you to come and go for 7 days.

However, if you’re planning to visit 3 or more national parks within a year, then the America Parks Pass is by far the best value. At just $80 for the whole year you can visit as many National Parks in America as you wish. You can order one online here.

The Arches National Park fee for a motorcycle is $25, and if you walk in on foot then the Arches National park cost is $15.

Camping fees

There is only one campground at Arches National Park and it gets booked up quickly so Arches National Park camping is pretty limited.

You can reserve a spot up to 6 months in advance for stays between March 1 and October 31. From November 1 to February 28 the campground operates on a first come, first served basis.

The campground is the Devils Garden Campground which is at the northernmost end of Arches National Park, 18 miles from the park entrance.

It costs $25 a night for a campsite in Arches National Park for a spot up to 10 people and 2 vehicles.

Permits

There are a few different permits for special uses at Arches. The most common ones are backcountry permits and a permit for a guided hike of the Fiery Furnace. If you need commercial permits check the NPS website.

Backcountry permits

Permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. These can be bought in person at Arches Visitor Centre up to 7 days before your trip begins and up to one hour before the visitor centre closes.

Each permit covers a maximum of seven people, for up to 3 nights per camp site or backcountry zone, for a total of seven nights.

Permits cost $7 per person.

Fiery Furnace permit

If you want to enter the Fiery Furnace without the ranger-guided hike (highly recommended), you must get a hiking permit from the Arches Visitor Centre in person.

Permit Requirements

  • You may purchase permits only in person at Arches Visitor Centre.
  • Permits are issued for a specific date: between sunrise and sunset only on the date specified on your permit.
  • Permits can be bought up to seven days in advance.
  • Everyone in your group must be present to watch a short orientation video.
  • You cannot buy a permit within 30 minutes of visitor centre closing.
  • Overnight trips in the Fiery Furnace are prohibited.
  • Pets or children under age 5 are not allowed.

Permits frequently sell out during the busy season and cost $6 per adult.

Arches National Park map

This Arches map shows an overview of the main Arches National park trails.

If you want a better look at Arches National Park hiking trails then you should get an Arches National Park trail map. You’ll definitely need this if you plan on hiking in the backcountry of Arches National Park.

Arches national park utah trail map

Top 5 things to do in Arches National Park

There are lots of Arches National park must sees and they don’t all involve seeing arches – there are cool rock formations too! Here’s my pick of the top 5 Arches National Park things to do.

  1. Hike to Delicate arch in Arches National Park
  2. Drive the Arches scenic drive
  3. Hike my favourite trail in Arches National Park: the Devil’s Garden trail
  4. Go camping or backpacking in Arches National Park!
  5. Experience Arches National Park at sunset or arrive early and see sunrise at Arches National Park

The best things to do in Arches National Park (one day or longer!)

Top 5 arches in Arches National Park, USA

When it comes to the best arches in Arches National Park it’s really down to personal preference. These three arches were my favourite.

  • Lanscape Arch, Arches National Park
  • Private Arch
  • Delicate Arch
  • The Windows arches
  • Turret Arch, Arches National Park

My 9 favourite arches at Arches National Park

Top 3 Arches National Park hikes

Arches National Park is great for day hiking since the trails aren’t too long or too strenuous. Here are a few of the best Arches hikes.

  • Delicate Arch hike: you simply have to hike to this famous arch in Utah
  • Devil’s Garden loop trail: my top pick of the best trails in Arches National Park
  • Fiery Furnace hike

See the full list of the best hikes in Arches National Park

What’s nearby?

There are lots of great things to do near Arches park.

  • Moab
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Glen Canyon Recreation Area

Places to stay near Arches National Park

guide to arches national park moab utah 2

As there is only one campground in Arches National Park which gets booked up quickly, it’s unlikely you’ll be staying in Arches National Park itself. Instead, you’re more likely to be based in Moab which is just under a 10 minute drive from the park entrance.

Whatever type of Arches National Park accommodation you decide to go for, make sure you book in advance. Moab gets busy and it’s still a small town so you don’t want to be left having to book the super expensive, or worryingly cheap motels near Arches National Park..

Hotels near Arches National Park

These options are good choices for budget friendly Arches National Park hotels in Moab. These are some of the top rated cheap hotels near Arches National Park

Arches National Park cabins

For something fancier, try a cabin near Arches National Park. It’d make the perfect base for exploring Arches, Canyonlands and some of the areas nearby on a Moab scenic drive.

Camping near Arches National Park

If you’re planning on camping during your trip to Arches but didn’t get reservations for the Devil’s Garden campground then you could try and book yourself into one of the campgrounds near Arches National Park.

There’s a mix of Arches National Park RV camping resorts as well as places you can tent camp. Or, if you want to do glamping these luxury tents with showers, private patio, spa products and a real bed look lovely!

However, I would seriously advise booking a spot as, like the Arches campground, they get full especially in the spring/summer months. We visited at the end of April and pretty much everything was full.

Here’s a full list of tent & RV campgrounds near Arches National Park.

BLM Land

If your heart was set on doing some Arches camping then take a look at the BLM land near the park. There are lots of BLM campgrounds in and around Moab but you will have to pay for most of them. Those closest to Arches National Park cost upwards of $20 whereas those a little bit further are $15.

These are getting full earlier and earlier each day as the season goes on. Most of those closest to Arches National Park were full by 4pm. If you have your heart set on staying in one it’s probably best to arrive early, find something to leave in your spot, then head off out adventuring.

These campgrounds have compost type toilets but no water or showers. Bring everything you need with you and take everything back out too.

Here is a map of BLM campgrounds near Arches National Park.

How to get to Arches National Park

guide to arches national park moab utah

The closest airport to Arches National Park is Salt Lake City International which is about a 4 hour drive from Arches National Park.

Salt Lake City to Arches National Park

Arches National Park is roughly a 4 hour drive away from Salt Lake City. The distance from Salt Lake City to Arches National Park is 230 miles.

To get to or from Arches National Park to Salt Lake City you’ll mainly be taking the US-6 Eastbound, following signs to Moab.

Other things to know

  • The best time to visit Arches National Park is outside of the March – October high season. During these months in particular it’s best to enter the park before 8am or after 3pm.
  • Arches National Park allow dogs on roads and in car parks but not on trails.
  • Arches National Park wildlife includes snakes (we saw one!) but not bears.
  • Leave no trace: Do not climb arches or mark your name/anything else in the rock
  • Stay on trails and roads.
  • Drink at least one gallon of water (4L) each day.
  • Always carry a topographic map, adequate clothing, and a flashlight. AKA your 10 essentials
  • Remain in one place if you become lost or separated from a group.
  • Weather can be unpredictable, be prepared

Want more Arches & Moab travel ideas?

Travelling to Arches National Park in Utah USA? Check out this guide to Arches with an Arches National Park map, the top places to visit for your Arches National Park photography and the best hikes in Arches National Park #archesnationalpark #hiking #arches #utah #nationalparks #usatravel