Utah is a state of contrasts encompassing the urban sprawl and attractions of Salt Lake City, picture-perfect small towns, sweeps of lush green forests and the stark beauty of sun-scorched deserts. Embrace the spirit of the Wild West here with outdoor adventures, family road trips and trekking weekends. Fly to Utah to find some of the most fascinating and distinctive landscapes in the country.
To fully appreciate the special scenery within Utah, look no further than the Mighty 5 national parks, a treasure trove of outdoor activities and memorable views. This network brings together Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Zion National Parks. Each have their own individual attractions and terrain that is ideal for hiking, river rafting, biking, picknicking, walking, horse riding, exploring and stargazing. Start with a visit to Arches National Park on the Colarado River, home to startling geological rock formations and soaring sandstone towers.
This year marks the centennial of the National Park Service so there has never been a better time to get up and go to one of the wonderful national parks around the country. These locations represent the best of America with some of the most important landscape’s in the country’s history. Most of all, the national parks are preserved spaces to escape the stresses of modern life, commune with nature and enjoy some important recreation. For your next vacation, consider a trip to Arches National Park to begin your journey through some of America’s natural heritage.
Flights to Arches National Park land at Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah. Airlines that operate domestic routes to the airport include WestJet, Delta Air Line and Southwest Airlines. Some domestic carriers also fly to Grand Junction Airport in Colorado which is 110 miles from the park or about a 90-minute drive away.
Driving from Salt Lake City airport to Arches National Park will take you around 3 hours and 40 minutes. Travel south on I-15 until you join US-6, then I-70 E and US-191 until you reach Arches Entrance Road in Grand County.
More than 1.4 million visitors travel to Arches National Park each year and most of them drive. Between March and October there can be limited parking throughout the park. The quietest times to pass through the entrance to the park is before 8 am or after 3pm. Local shuttles and taxis provide a drop-off and pick-up service from the nearby town of Moab, 4 miles south of the park, which provide an alternative way of arriving at Arches National Park. There is a bike path that connects Moab with the entrance to Arches.
Where to stay
While Arches National Park represents a collection of open spaces with impressive vistas and unique natural features, you are also close to a range of different accommodations to provide home comforts while you are exploring the great outdoors. Hotel chains that have properties close to Arches National Park include Best Western, Days Inn, Hampton, Holiday Inn Express and Ramada.
When on vacation near Arches you can choose from bed and breakfast, hotels, apartments, hostels and resort style accommodations. Many of the options include a pool, on-site parking, air conditioning and spa amenities. Almost all of the places to stay are centered around the community of Moab.
Within the park, Arches has one campground called Devil’s Garden, open to tent and RV camping. It’s recommended that you make reservations if you wish to stay in the campsite between March and October. From the start of November to the end of February, the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
When to visit
The best seasons to visit are spring and fall when the daytime temperature is less extreme than in summer and when the night-time temperatures do not dip as far. This makes it an ideal time to take part in sporting activities or go trekking within the park. The park is at its busiest from April through May and between mid-September and the end of October. Heavy snowfall in winter transforms the desert terrain providing some remarkable views to photograph. If you travel in summer be prepared for soaring daytime temperatures and dress accordingly.
What to see
Arches National Park combines a mix of trails, notable geological features and a dramatic backdrop for recreational activities like biking, camping and hiking. Construct your own itinerary for your trip but be sure to include these interesting parts of the park.
This is the most famous landmark within the park and provides one of the most impressive views. A freestanding natural 65-foot-tall arch, the landmark is formed of sandstone which has been hewn by weathering and erosion into its current distinctive shape. It’s considered a symbol of Utah and its position overlooking the park allows for a panoramic vista across the red plains of the park.
The Arches Visitor Center is a great resource for information on the park and surrounding area. This is also where you will be able to join talks or guided walks led by Park Rangers or volunteers who offer a range of interpretive programs every day, spring through fall.
Fiery Furnace hike
Enter a natural labyrinth of intriguing narrow sandstone passages and steep red rock walls to navigate through a range of challenging terrain. Park Rangers can assist you on your journey or you can arrange for a hiking permit for more experienced climbers. Those who are up for the challenge can enjoy a walk and climb through weathered sandstone gaps and along narrow ledges.
For generations, travelers have gathered around the campfire at Arches and looked up at a glittering night-time display with the sky dotted with thousands of stars. Light pollution has been almost entirely eliminated within the park making it one of the best places in the world to observe the wonders of the milky way.
The Scenic Drive at Arches National Park allow you to pass through and get a perspective on what this area of the country is all about. With a bit more time and a commitment to adventure and exploring, it is possible to venture around an amazing territory with distinctive features, full of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.