A PARK FULL OF ARCHES
WHAT TO DO IN ARCHES? MY JOURNEY
Before telling you what to do in Arches National Park, a small logistical point. First of all the park is included in the “America The Beautiful” pass. But in 2022, National Park Service had set up a reservation system at entry times. That is to say that you had to book in advance the 2 hours you wanted to enter the park. It is impossible to enter outside these hours. To find out if this is still the case when you go there, click here. Once in the park, there is no bus service, everything is done by car. There is a main road then a few intersections to the right and left depending on where you want to go.
MY FAVORITE HIKES / ARCHES
One hike you won’t hear much about, but it’s worth it, is the Klondike Bluffs. An unpaved road leads to this part of the hike. Before taking it with your car, it is still advisable to go to the Visitor Center to ask them about the state of the road depending on the car you have. I was there with a Kia Rio, and everything went very well. You have parking at the start of the hike to get to Tower Arch. The rangers will advise you to just go back and forth to Tower Arch because this is the most interesting part. The loop takes you back to the road and is much longer. The round trip takes about 1h30 to do 4.2 km (2.6 miles). You have the impression of walking in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere (I assure you the path is still well indicated). Then after several minutes of walking, you arrive in the middle of huge rocks, and the further you go, the more you can see this huge arch! The surprise effect of this arch makes this one very impressive! The hike is super beautiful, and in addition nobody goes there.
A hike that you can also do upon arriving at the park is the Park Avenue hike. It is a round trip that you can do in less than an hour. This allows you to have a very different point of view of the park. It looks nice.
Another short hike that I enjoyed was the one to get to Broken Arch. Didn’t do the loop but went all the way to the arch. Seeing this cracked arch is impressive! It took me half an hour to go there and back.
Two arches that can be admired from the parking lot but there is also a hike to do not far, these are the double arches and the Windows. You can go to double arches after a short 10 minute walk. Finding yourself at the bottom of these arches that meet… I don’t even have the words! After, you can head to the Windows via the Primitive Trail clockwise. This short 45 minute hike allows you to get different vantage points from the two arches, which are also very pretty. On top of that, you have few people doing the hike.
I also really liked the Skyline Arch. Visible from a small parking lot, you can see this huge arch in height, it’s super beautiful!
And a point of view not to be missed in the park is the Panorama Point! Very nice view in the middle of the park! If you have the opportunity, go and admire the sunrise, it’s magnificent!
THE HIKES / ARCHES THAT I DISLIKED
Sand dune arch
Then you have a small walk of about twenty minutes to get to Sand Dune Arch which is nice but I did not find it extraordinary compared to others in the park.
I think many will disagree, but balanced rock isn’t my favorite part of the park either. So it is true that it is still impressive to see this piece of rock balance on a thinner column! But hey, it’s just not my favorite rock in the park.
And finally, Delicate Arch. It is THE arch of the park and the symbol of Utah. Maybe I went there at the wrong time of day, and you have to go at the beginning of the day. But it is said that this arch is the most beautiful during sunset. So yes, it is super beautiful it’s true! And the colors look really good. But there is so many people! Visitors line up for about 30 minutes to have the photo in the arch, which will therefore take you several minutes to have a photo with no one in the arch. I found it a shame but on the other hand I understand. Who wouldn’t want to go to the best view point in the park during sunset? That’s why I liked it less, because of the crowd there was. And please take care of your things. In 2 hours, I saw 2 people drop things in the hole next to the arch… To have the sunset, it is advised to leave 1h30 before sunset time. You have a nice climb for about 45 minutes before you get to the arch. The return is by the same route. Don’t forget your headlamp.
If there is one hike not to be missed, it is the Fiery Furnace! It is possible to explore it in two ways: on a guided tour or on your own with a permit. Be careful, the guided tour is taken well in advance. So if you want a place, look several weeks before. For the hike alone, you can make a request up to 3 days in advance depending on availability. Do not take the day before for the next day because you must watch a short video at the Visitor Center before having the permit. You can watch this video only the day before or on D-Day. But you have to do it according to the center’s schedules so if you want to start the hike early, you have to go the day before. I put here the link so that you can book the option that suits you best. What surprised me the most in the presentation video is that they encourage us to get lost in this place. So of course that’s what I did! I didn’t want to have the guided tours with me so I left long before they started, which is at 7 am. And I met no one until 100m before the end around 9.15 am. It was great! Because hiking consists of getting lost in this canyon, it’s really a great experience! I assure you it’s not very big either, you can easily find your way around, and the app maps.me helped me a lot too. When you see signs that say “dead end”, follow this path. Usually this means that there is an arch not far away. And the arches in the Canyon are very beautiful! It would be a shame to miss them. You have a few small signs in the canyon to give you directions, but it’s not clear all the way. You sometimes pass between 2 cliffs, you walk on huge rocks, then on sand, it’s extraordinary. For those who are scared of heights, there are two or three places I went to that were a bit borderline. But like I said, you make your own way, so these places can be avoided without a problem. This is a type of hike I had never done before. I took a total of 2 hours, losing myself a little. But you can stay there as long as you want during the day you have the permit. A real playground.
You will understand, as its name suggests, the national park contains more than 2,000 arches. Pretty impressive isn’t it? There are a few hikes that I really enjoyed, especially the Fiery Furnace hike. The arches are impressive but I really recommend doing the few short hikes in the park which allow you to have amazing views and see some “hidden” arches.
WHEN TO GO?
I was at the national park mid-June. At that time, a peak of heat had been announced in the region, but I was lucky because it was very windy, so it was bearable. The park has very few shaded corners so I imagine not in the middle of summer.
I advise you to stay there for a maximum of 2 days. A day to discover all the arches and do some short hikes, and a second day to do the Fiery Furnace, and why not Kondike Bluff.
WHERE TO SLEEP? MY ACCOMMODATION
A tent at Thompson, Utah, USA
Price: $37 – €36 / night for a tent
Click here to book a night.
The campsite had a tent built that can be reserved. The tent is comfortable and it is properly furnished inside. Toilets and showers are not far away. The location is not too far from the national park. A good price-performance ratio. The only condition is that you have to bring your sheets.
MY 3 TIPS TO VISIT ARCHES
- If you are visiting the park in the summer, do your hikes early or late in the day. There are not many shadows on the hikes.
- Check well in advance on the NPS website if you need to make a reservation to enter the park.
- When hiking, try to spot the small balancing rocks. They are there to guide you.