How to Spend Three Perfect Days in Arches National Park
Arches Itinerary: Are you looking to spend Three Days in Arches National Park and wondering what to do? This Arches Itinerary is jammed packed with helpful tips, tricks and practical information to plan your trip.
Spending 3 Days in Arches is a great way to visit a lot more of the national park than most people see. So let’s get to this three day Arches Itinerary.
If you are looking for more info on Arches, you can check out my One Day in Arches Itinerary or my Two Day in Arches Itinerary.
Arches New Reservation System for 2022
As you know, Arches is an incredibly popular national park and this leads to the park hitting their maximum number of cars by 9am. To prevent and control overcrowding, Arches is implementing a pilot timed entry system.
If you are planning to visit Arches National Park in 2022, there is a new reservation system. If your visit is between April 3 and October 3, 2022, you must have a reservation. Arches are implementing a pilot timed entry system as part of its measures to control overcrowding.
Reservations are on a first come, first served basis. You can apply at Recreation.gov
You must apply for a reservation 3 months before you plan to visit. Each months’ lottery opens on the 1st of the month at 8am MST. For example, if you plan to visit in June – you need to apply on March 1st.
- If you are visiting between April 3 and April 30 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on January 3 2022.
- If you are visiting between May 1 and May 31 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on February 1 2022.
- If you are visiting between June 1 and June 30 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on March 1 2022.
- If you are visiting between July 1 and July 31 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on April 1 2022.
- If you are visiting between August 1 and August 31 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on May 1 2022.
- If you are visiting between September 1 and September 30 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on June 1 2022.
- If you are visiting between October 1 and October 3 2022: reservations open at 8am MST on June 1 2022.
Once you have a reservation you will be granted a timed entry slot into the park between 6am and 5pm. You can enter the park during your one hour time slot. You can then stay in Arches for as long as you would like.
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National Park Entrance Fees
To enter the National Parks, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee or have a National Parks Pass also known as American the Beautiful Pass.
I purchased my first one in 2016 and it’s such a money-saver! Plus 10% of sale proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.
One Day at Arches National Park – Start with the Highlights
There are many arches in the park’s Windows section, so see who in your group can spot one first! The Windows may be viewed from afar from the Balanced Rock viewpoint, but it’s well worth the short hike if you have the time.
Turret Arch, North Window, and South Window are three of the designated rock formations along the 1-mile gravel road, but there are likely to be many more along the way.
The first 100 yards of this trail are solid and packed flat, and it has been certified as barrier-free by the National Park Service. If you want to get more steps in, the loop splits at one point, so take the more rustic way, stick to the gravel path, or reverse around and do both.
Three of the park’s most stunning arches are connected by this 1.2-mile loop. This is one of Arches National Park’s most popular loop trails given to its accessibility and short trail, as well as the concentration of formations in one location.
Turret Arch is named after the lofty spire that stands on the side of a large sandstone fin. Even though the arch’s opening isn’t the highest or widest in contrast to others in the park, the construction as a whole has a castle-like look, making it one of the park’s most attractive arches.
This Arch is the smallest of the three arches along the Windows Loop Trail, but it is part of a larger, castle-like rock formation with a spire.
There are two entrances in this formation: one that you can walk through and one that is high up on the rock face. The north and south Window Arches can be seen from inside the Turret Arch. The only way to get to Turret Arch is to climb a few stairs.
To get to Turret Arch from the Windows/Turret parking area, take the Windows Loop in either direction and look for the Turret Arch turnoff. The southern leg, with the rightmost route facing the rock formations, would be the shortest, while the northern leg, with the leftmost trail facing the rock formations, would be the longest.
Early morning is considered to be the best time to photograph Turret Arch since the colors are the most vibrant.
Devil’s Garden Loop
Devil’s Garden is both a camping area and a hiking trail. The trail can be tailored to your preferences in terms of mileage and complexity, and the campground is the only one within Arches National Park.
The Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop is located at the far end of the park when the main road comes to an end. The 7.2-mile trip features eight arches as well as a breathtaking rock environment. With multiple Slickrock scrambles and exposed ledges, this is one of the park’s most strenuous hikes. However, if you want to see some of the sights in the vicinity, you should complete the loop.
Devil’s Garden is unique in that it provides a range of hikes to suit your time and ability. If you hike the full loop, including a challenging Primitive Loop Trail section, and take each minor offshoot to visit all of the indicated arches, you’ll cover around 8 miles. You can, however, simply do an out-and-back to a few fascinating spots.
If you’re looking for a difficult hike with some Slickrock scrambling, commit to the entire Devils Garden Loop. The Primitive Loop Track, which requires you to hunt for cairns (short rock towers) to direct you through the less-developed track, includes the sites listed above as well as an offshoot to the Dark Angel spire.
Park Avenue Trail
Continue on the main road to the Park Avenue Trail and Viewpoint from the Moab Fault Overlook. Even if you’re not intending on climbing, the views are spectacular right from the parking lot, and this stop makes a wonderful backdrop for a group shot!
Visitors who are unable to hike great distances can enjoy an incredible view from this vantage point. The initial section of the hiking trail is paved, making it accessible to wheelchairs and strollers. If you continue past the paved area, the trail will take you to the breathtaking Courthouse Towers in the distance.
Hikers can hike to the canyon bottom for a closer look at the numerous towers and fins on the 2-mile out-and-back track. At the 1-mile turnaround point, the trail links with the main road, so a private shuttle can be arranged.
A side road marked with signs going to The Garden of Eden, Double Arch Trail, and The Windows Section is not far past the Balanced Rock Parking Area.
The first hike begins at the end of the side road. Look for signage leading to The Windows Trail at The Windows Section Parking Area. Hikers can access the North Window and South Window through the Windows Trail, which is a 0.65-mile loop.
The hike concludes with a close-up look at Turret Arch. Through the North Window, you may take amazing shots of Turret Arch for a brilliantly placed shot. Hikers can also walk the Windows Primitive Loop Trail for a different perspective of the North and South Windows.
The Scenic Arches Drive is a 36-mile (round-trip) paved roadway with multiple magnificent viewpoints and stops along the way. This Scenic Drive is a main road through the park.
It starts immediately north of Moab on US191. This portion of the route, from US-191 to the Windows Road turnoff, is covered in this list. For coverage of the second half of the road trip, from Devil’s Garden to the finish.
Drive the entire Scenic Drive and stop at every viewpoint. This is a stunningly beautiful journey that provides quick access to some of the park’s most beautiful vistas. This drive is so beautiful that it deserves to be considered among the best scenic drives in the world.
Two Days at Arches National Park – Best Views at Arches
Arches’ most famous feature and one of Utah’s most iconic monuments is Delicate Arch, the park’s largest free-standing sandstone arch. After all, it’s emblazoned on the state’s license plates.
This iconic arch is a must-see, and the Lower Viewpoint, which is wheelchair accessible, offers a distant view.
Another alternative is to hike to the Upper Viewpoint through a moderately tough rocky trail. However, you will only be able to see it from afar. You must hike the entire trail, which is uphill on slick rock and includes walking along a narrow ledge, to obtain a closer view.
The Wolfe Ranch cabin, built by John Wesley Wolfe in the early 1900s, may be seen at the start of the route. A little further down the route, you’ll come across some Ute Indian petroglyphs dated from 1650 to 1850 AD.
The park’s most photographed and unique arch is this. Rather than being a window in the side of a rock wall, this freestanding arch rises from the ground and frames distant hills and mountains. You can hike up to the arch for a closer look, or you can watch it from afar from the Delicate Arch Viewpoint on the road that runs beneath it.
One of the park’s most beautiful arches, Double Arch, is a must-see. It’s visible from the parking lot, but it’s also accessible through a half-mile trail that’s generally flat.
You can appreciate its grandeur and beauty from this vantage. You can indeed climb up the rocks to be underneath it and photograph the sky in the background. Arches’ tallest arch is also here. The Parade of Elephant’s rock formation will be visible along the way.
The trail to Double Arch is easy to navigate and suitable for all ages, making it excellent for families. At the base of the arch, the trail becomes a bit of a scramble, so you might want to meander up the boulders beneath the arches.
The ascent to Double Arch is only about a half-mile long and level ground. This is one of the few areas in the park where you may find some shade. Furthermore, this vantage point provides a variety of stunning views. Climbing around on the rock will give you a different perspective of the two arches.
This fascinating rock structure, which appears to defy gravity, is best seen around sunset. It’s visible from the car, but walking around the base of Balanced Rock is recommended to get a closer look.
The trail is short and easy, with half of it being paved.
After sunset, Balanced Rock turns a deep red-orange color, making it the ideal place to end a fun-filled day in the park. This is also an excellent location for stargazing and night photography. It’s far enough away from the city lights of Moab, Utah, to generate fantastical stone spires in the foreground.
Stop here for a closer look at the balancing rock by taking a walk along the route. Only 0.3 kilometers separate you from a better view of the rock.
A picnic place may be found on a dirt road to the west, across the road from Balanced Rock. There are many picnic tables, a covered canopy, a vault toilet, and breathtaking views of Salt Valley and Balanced Rock at this picnic spot.
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden has various spires and rock formations that are similar to Balanced Rock. The majority of visitors come for a quick stroll, however, climbers will occasionally tackle the spires on their own. This is a great spot for a walk to get a sense of the size of the rocks in the area.
Small baby arches are just beginning to form in the Garden of Eden, while medium-sized arches may be found all over the place. Enjoy the freedom to travel that this location provides while roaming across this or any other desert environment, but stay away from the cryptobiotic soil.
The quick stop is well worthy by the pointed mossy rocks and sandstone rock formations. There is a pull-out just before the Garden of Eden with a panoramic view of the Windows and Turret Arches against the La Sal Mountains.
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
The sandstone fins turn a vivid blazing orange when the sun shines on it. This is a wonderful area to visit to simply relax and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Arches National Park.
Fiery Furnace is a 2-mile climb over towering, maze-like canyon walls that is one of Arches National Park’s most popular and difficult hikes. Exploring it is a breathtaking, strange trip with plenty of challenges.
Although a counter-clockwise path through Fiery Furnace has trail markings, there are additional unmarked routes to select from, making getting lost or disoriented a distinct possibility.
Before embarking on a Fiery Furnace hike, hikers should be aware of the terrain’s intricacy and be prepared for present conditions, particularly temperature variations. You’ll be walking and climbing across uneven and broken sandstone, tiny ledges above drop-offs, and loose sand on these exceedingly difficult climbs.
A ranger-led trip through this maze of tight canyons is also available, but be aware that this hike is demanding and tough. You and everyone in your company must obtain a permit from the visitor center before venturing out on your own.
How to get around – car
Despite its development, Arches National Site lacks a shuttle system that can transport visitors around the park. Also, since the park is spread out throughout the full 19-mile scenic drive, walking isn’t very efficient, thus driving is the best way to move about the park during your visit.
You don’t need anything particularly fancy, whether it’s one you bring from home or one you rent. All of the park’s roadways are well-paved and appear to be fresh new! The only gravel road is the one leading to the Tower Arch Trail, but it is still passable in a regular automobile. This mode of transportation will allow you to spend more time in the park!
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Three Days at Arches National Park
Go early. Expect crowds since this is one of the most visited national parks in the Southwest. Starting as early as 9 a.m., there is always a line to access the park. Since there is no bus or shuttle service in Arches National Park, you’ll need a car to get to the trailheads and viewpoints on this itinerary.
Start your day with a hike to the landmark Delicate Arch. Wheelchair access is also available at Park Avenue Viewpoint and Balanced Rock Viewpoint. At Devils Garden, there is an accessible campsite, and the Visitors Center and facilities are located throughout the park.
A rest break is well deserved after a morning of hiking. There is a wonderful picnic place at the Devil’s Garden trailhead, which you will return to after Delicate Arch. Since there are no food options in Arches, you can bring a lunch and plenty of water. After your lunch, you can either continue to Fiery Furnace or leave the park and relax at your hotel for a few hours.
In the late afternoon, go on a shorter, easier hike. Turret Arch, Garden of Eden, Double Arch, and Windows Section are all included in this category. After a day in the park, stop by Moab Diner for a wonderful homestyle meal, or go to Quesadilla Mobile for dinner.
Sample Itinerary for 3 Days at Arches National Park
Primitive Trail + Devils Garden
The Devil’s Garden Trail is a strong contender for the title of Arches National Park’s best hike. If you trek the full route, including the primitive loop, you’ll be able to witness a total of seven distinct arches! If you just have a short amount of time in the park, this hike is ideal because it covers a lot of ground and includes several different types of arches.
Adding the primitive loop to this trip is recommended if you don’t mind a little trail finding! The primitive loop can be done in two different ways. You can either go on before you reach the landscape arch, or you may wait until you reach the Double O Arch and then get on.
Catch the sunrise on the Broken Arch Trail
This is a sunrise you will not want to miss, so pack your headlamp, camp stove, instant coffee, and a breakfast bar for the path. I know how difficult mornings can be, but it will be well worth it.
The Broken Arch Trail can be accessed directly from the campground (or by driving in from a hotel). The arch is less than a mile from the trailhead and is a great place to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise over Arches National Park.
This is one of those fantastic little hikes with a huge payoff, especially if you schedule it to coincide with sunrise. You can either return the way you came or complete the loop by passing through Sandstone Arch on your way back to the campground. The distances are nearly the same.
Sand Dune Arch + Broken Arch
You can start this trail at either trailhead, but make sure you make it in time for sunset. The trail to each of these arches is short and easy to follow, making it a fantastic place to end the day, especially after all the hiking you did on the Devil’s Garden Trail earlier in the day.
The Sand Dune Arch should be your first stop if you only have time to view one. It’s a beautiful site to photograph at sunset since the lighting is perfect.
You can also add a Viewpoint of your choice.
Panorama Point offers one of the Arches’ most stunning views. Radiant mountain peaks may be seen in the distance, while up close, extensive rocky plains like Bryce Canyon can be seen. The vista is so expansive that Delicate Arch can be seen from here.
Every time you visit Panorama Point, the light produces a unique experience, so we recommend stopping here both on your way in and out of the park. This way, each time you see the vistas, it will be a completely distinct experience.
Windows is exactly what it sounds like. The majority of the arches are built into the rock as if they were a convenient window. It’s a lot of fun to go on this hike with small children and discover the windows in every corner and crevice. Turret Arch, North Window, Cove of Caves, and Parade of Elephants are all part of this 1.2-mile loop hike.
Fiery Furnace has a variety of interesting geological and historical features. You’ll encounter a network of small trails smothered by projecting rocks if you descend into this section of the park. You’ll have to slide and slither your way through this complicated rock jungle to make it out alive.
This hike may only be completed with a special hiking permit obtained at the Visitor’s Center or by taking a guided ranger tour. The use of a compass is also essential.
Milt’s Stop and Eat is the perfect place to end your three-day hike across Hiking Arches National Park. This 4.9-star restaurant is well-known in Moab! Their hormone-free, grass-fed beef and buffalo burgers, as well as fries and milkshakes, are well-known! They’re said to be the greatest along US Route 191.
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