Shaka Guide's Arches National Park Itinerary
Arches National Park’s 76,000 acres are home to the highest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, over 2,000, including America’s longest arch, Landscape Arch. The park attracts over 1.7 million visitors a year and once you see it for yourself, it’ll be easy to see why. Located just five miles north of Moab, the wild rock formations of Arches National Park can make you feel like you're thousands of miles away from anything familiar.
This driving tour will take 2 to 6 hours to complete. That’s a minimum of 90 minutes of driving plus time for you to get out and explore. With 18 stops and 46 points of narration, you can be sure you’ll see everything worth seeing when you’re with Shaka Guide. We highly recommend you get an early start to your day.
The park is open 24/7 but the Visitor Center’s hours vary depending on the season. Check the NPS website for hours.
- You can begin your tour of Arches National Park on Utah state highway 191 a half mile north or south of the park entrance.
- There are two different versions of this tour, the Classic and Reverse Arches National Park Tours. The reverse option guides you all the way to the end of the scenic drive and then makes frequent stops on the return trip. They feature the same stops just in opposite directions.
- As of April 2022 Arches National Park requires timed entry to visit. Make your reservation to visit the park here.
- Also, please note that parking fills up the fastest at Delicate Arch and Devils Garden so, if you plan to hike or visit these stops, consider using the Reverse tour.
Classic Arches National Park Itinerary
We highly recommend you start the tour by 8:00 a.m. at the latest. This park gets very crowded - especially April through October - and the line to enter may already be backed up by 8:00 a.m. Rangers may temporarily close the entrance for several hours when the park reaches capacity, so don’t be left on the outside looking in!
1. Visitor Center
PaaschPhotography from Getty Images
The Visitor Center has necessities like water, snacks, and restrooms. This is a good place to fill up your water and purchase a few snacks. There is no other place in the park that sells food and the only other place that has drinking water is all the way at the end of the road at Devils Garden.
2. The Moab Fault
At the Moab Fault viewpoint, you can see the result of enormous pressure that separated the area of the viewpoint with the cliff wall on the other side of the canyon.
3. Park Avenue
City folks say you get the same feeling standing among the rock formations in Park Avenue that you do standing next to the towering skyscrapers in New York city.
4. La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
Arches National Park from Moab, Utah, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
La Sal means the salt in Spanish. The mountains got their name in 1776 when Spanish explorers thought the snowy peaks looked like giant piles of salt. The highest peak, Mount Peale, is over 12,000 feet around 3,600 meters high
5. Courthouse Towers
Courthouse Towers - Bernie ClapCott from Getty Images
Here you’ll find a series of huge sandstone rock formations like the Three Gossips, The Organ, and Sheep Rock.
6. Petrified Dunes
This is a vast landscape of these sort of lumpy rock formations. It may not look like it at first, but they are actually sand dunes, like on the Sahara. More specifically though, these are petrified sand dunes, meaning that the sand actually solidified into rock around 200 million years ago.
7. Balanced Rock
Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Balanced Rock stands over 120 feet or 11 stories tall. This giant Hoodoo has a ball on top that appears to be perfectly balanced on the spire below.
8. The Windows & Double Arch
This area features more than 30 different magnificent arches including The Windows, Turret Arch, and Double Arch, which was featured in the opening scenes of Indian Jones and the Last Crusade.
9. Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden by LordRunar from Getty Images Signature
The Garden of Eden is a great place to wander around. This is an open terrain dotted with fins, windows, and miniature arches, or even arches still being formed. There's no designated trail so be sure you watch your step for any biocrust. You can find the owl rock just a short distance from the parking lot.
9. Pothole Arch
Pothole arch is unlike the rest of the arches you’ll see on the tour because, while those arches are vertical, this arch is horizontal.
10. Panorama Point
From this high vantage point, you can see for miles and miles in several directions. To the north is Devil's Garden and the Fiery Furnace. To the south you can see Elephant Butte, the highest point in the park at 5,600 feet.
11. Delicate Arch Trail
Pedro Lastra peterlaster, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
This is probably the most famous Arch in Arches National Park. In fact, it’s on the Utah state license plate! While Delicate Arch is certainly not one of the tallest in the park, this iconic formation has a special charm that has attracted people from all over the world.
12. Delicate Arch Viewpoints
If you don’t have time or don’t have a reservation to make the three-mile hike to Delicate Arch, you can still see the arch from two viewpoints. The trail to the lower viewpoint is just a short 100-foot walk from the parking lot. The second trail is to the upper viewpoint, about a half mile round trip.
13. Salt Valley Overlook
The Salt Valley was once called the paradox formation because early geologists couldn’t determine how it was created. It’s a good thing you’ve got Shaka Guide to make everything clear.
14. Fiery Furnace
Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This place got its name because the rocks here glow as if they're on fire when the sun is at the right angle. There is a permit-only hike through the Fiery Furnace but permits are limited and must be reserved online. We don’t recommend the hike on our tour due to its difficulty, but if you really want to hike it, you can make a reservation here.
15. Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch, & Tower Arch
Here you can walk a short distance to visit Sand Dune Arch, which includes a sort of sand pit that children of all ages like to play in. There’s a two-mile hike to Broken Arch and a rough road that will take you further to Tower Arch.
16. Skyline Arch
Arches National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
This large arch sits just above the horizon framing the sky as a wonderful window arch. No hiking is required, but if you want, just 10 minutes on foot will get you up close to the arch.
17. Devils Garden
At Devils Garden, miles of trail systems connect seven arches and numerous fins, spires and other formations. We recommend you set aside some time to park here, walk around and check out the arches. The hike is short - about two miles - and it's well-worth it. You'll also find picnic tables and a restroom if you want to relax for a while. The most famous formation at the Devils Garden Trail is definitely the Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America.
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So, are you ready for your Arches National Park adventure? Check out our Know Before You Go article, with all the travel tips you’ll need to plan your day on Shaka Guide’s Arches National Park Tour.
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