Sometimes you leave a place feeling like you left a piece of your heart behind (that you’ll of course have to retrieve through another visit). Arches National Park was one of those places for me. I’m not sure if it was the breathtaking views or heart rate elevating heights…but one way or another this park became my favorite.
Our journey began at the visitor center where our core goal was filling up our water packs, grabbing a map, and running to the restroom. Turns out that the center has far more to offer including historical data, geographical insights, and gorgeous windows which span the back wall and leave you captivated as cars wind up the road and disappear into the sandstone abyss.
We spent 2 full days in Moab and explored as much of the park as we could. One thing I really loved was the variety in trail intensity. There were many features that you could almost drive right up to which is a nice respite from harder hikes. We explored the park in a pretty natural fashion, starting at the front and working our way to the back with the help of our trusty visitor center map.
My Must-See Monument List:
- La Sal Mountains viewpoint- our first stop and you can basically drive right up! This was when we were young and naive saying ‘wow nothing can be more beautiful than this!’ *spoiler alert* it gets better
- Balanced Rock- take a moment to absorb this one before it becomes Fallen Rock one day
- Garden of Eden- this one requires a little more walking if you want to get up close, but was fun to explore and less crowded than some of the larger monuments
- Cove Arch & Double Arch- Must sees! We stopped here around lunch time and ate our packed lunches perched on the edge of Cove Arch. I highly recommend finding your little space and sitting down to take in the beauty of these arches. But also be responsible and pack your trash if you do bring food 🙂
- North & South Windows- beautiful and we had a lot of fun exploring around these ones. If I’m remembering correctly, the backside of these were very fun to explore and had some hidden little alcoves.
- Delicate Arch- We hiked this one at sunset and it was phenomenal!! If you’re more adventurous bring your headlamp and watch the sun completely set. On a nice night you won’t be up there alone as this is a hugely popular sunset hike.
- Landscape Arch- Another one that won’t be around for long so check this guy out while you can. On a hot day there’s not many places to hide from the sun on this route so bring your sunscreen and hat. Overall the hike to Landscape isn’t too bad from an elevation perspective.
- Navajo Arch/Partition Arch- Let me be very clear, this trail kicked my butt…..but I freaking loved it. Nothing worth having comes easy right?? I’m not one for heights…I freak out pretty easily when put too close to any edge and getting up to these arches requires you to climb a narrow path of rocks with a drop on either side. I panicked. For probably 20 minutes. But finally I mustered up the courage to continue (thanks to the support and encouragement of friends and fellow hikers lol). Partition Arch provided my favorite views from the trip (as shown above), which pictures can’t even do justice.
These are just my list, so of course check it all out and stop your car whenever your heart desires. If you’re not camping in the park, I also highly recommend hanging out until dark to stargaze. Arches is certified as an International Dark Sky Park, meaning that there is nearly no light pollution. Though you may be wanting dinner after a long day of hiking, I promise you the night sky will not disappoint (and you can choose any spot you please!). You will see the stars clearer than ever before and it’s a great end to a day of exploration.
Where did we stay you ask? This adorable little Airbnb
What map did you find useful for the park? This guy is great!
Any great places you ate? The Spoke on Center was very yummy.
Anything else cool you discovered? I love rocks…and one night after hiking I found the ultimate rock shop.