Why hiking is the way to go at Arches National Park

In the region of Moab, there are many points of interest, but the national park we were most looking forward to, was definitely Arches National Park. 

Arches National Park has the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches in the world which of course immediately piqued our interest. As many other national parks, it offers many lovely viewing areas and hikes to make it easier to discover nature’s beauty.

We had one evening and one morning to visit Arches National Park, which was enough to discover the highlights of this park. Nonetheless, in a certain way, it did disappoint a bit.

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On the evening of our arrival in Moab, the thunderclouds were threatening to rain on our parade, which sadly also decreased our desire to go hiking and explore Arches National Park. Wouldn’t want to be caught in a downpour mid-hike.

So instead we just drove to a few viewpoints, such as Balanced Rock, Fiery Furnace Point and Panorama Viewpoint. While driving the first miles through the park, we were wondering where all those arches were. We expected to be seeing more arches than we could count, but apparently that’s not the case. Over the entire park, there are over 2000 arches but they pretty far apart. So the viewpoints weren’t congregations of arches, but mostly just beautiful sandstone formations. But all in all the viewpoints weren’t all that spectacular.

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The next morning, the sun was once again by our side, so we happily planned our hikes. And those were more worth our time than the viewpoints from the day before. So one advice: go hiking and don’t be afraid of longer distances!

We started off with the view that supposedly really gorgeous at sunrise; Delicate Arch. The hike to the foot of the arch is 4,8 kilometers, which we found a little bit too far and maybe a bit too heavy. So instead we walked to the viewpoints on Delicate Arch instead. To our biggest disappointment, we could only see the arch from a very big distance as you can see in the picture below. Perhaps we should have just braved the heavier hike because then we would have at least gotten a good view of the arch.

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Hopeful that the rest would be better, we headed for the one furthest in the park; Landscape Arch (first picture). This trail starts at Devil Garden Trailhead and is an easy 2,6 kilometers roundtrip. From there you can continue to Double O’Arch, but since we only had the morning left, we couldn’t squeeze it in. On the way back, we did do the little detour to see Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. And luckily, those were definitely worth it.

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Our third and final hike was to the Double Arch Trail. This trail is only 800 metres and probably the easiest in the park, so it’s a shame if you don’t do it. The two arches is really stunning and you can even – at your own risk – climb underneath them.

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While we had one evening and one morning for this park, I wouldn’t go about it the same way if I ever did go back. I’d opt to do either an entire afternoon, or an entire morning because we did loose a lot of time by driving in and out the park. I’d also try not to loose too much time at the viewpoints, and try to do as many hikes as possible as that’s where the most beautiful arches can be found. While it definitely wasn’t a total let-down, I must admit that I had expected more of this park.

Arches National Park is located eight kilometers north of Moab, along highway 191. It’s open year-round, 24-hours a day. Entrance is included in the ‘America The Beautiful’-card.

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