Part 2 of our Utah Adventure
takes us to Arches National Park, an impressive, 75,000 acre expanse with over 2,000 natural arches. We made it to four of the most popular arches (plus a big ol’ rock), but you could literally spend days exploring all of what the park has to offer.
It costs $25 per vehicle to get into Arches, and anywhere from $25-$75 to camp in the park itself. We camped at Slickrock Campgrounds, which is just a few minutes outside of the park. It was $30 to camp, with free showers and wifi, and each tent area even had a tin roof! This was super useful, since there was a good chance of rain during our stay. There’s also a space for RVs as well as small cabins for those who didn’t want to sleep in tents.
The entrance to Arches is a set of long, sharp switchbacks with sheer cliffs aligning the side. Being a Floridian, this made me a bit nervous. That being said, make sure to get to the park early, because the line at the entrance can get really long. Waiting at the DMV is expected, waiting in line to hike shouldn’t happen.
Road Trip Book Suggestion
It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive from Bryce Canyon to Arches National Park. Normally, that’s a long, boring car ride. It wasn’t for me because I was reading my new favorite book series: Red Rising. If you like The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, Star Wars, or Sci-Fi in general, you’ll love these books. I actually finished the first one by the fourth day of our trip, and bought the second book, Golden Son, in Vegas and finished it in one day! They’re that good. Click each book and check them out below!
Balanced Rock isn’t an arch, but it’s still impressive nonetheless. It’s one of the first stops about 9 miles into the park. It stands over 120 feet tall, with the rock on top being the size of three schoolbuses. There used to be a another, smaller balanced rock, (called Chip Off the Old Block) but it fell about forty years ago. There’s a short path leading up to the rock, so it only takes a brief stroll to see Balanced Rock up close.
Landscape Arch one of the main stopping points of the Devil’s Garden trail. This is the longest arch on the planet, spanning 290 feet across! It beat Zion National Park’s Kolob Arch by just 3 feet. Being the best takes hard work, and Landscape Arch has had to shed some weight in the process. You can see the chunks of discarded rock beneath the arch itself, some of them as large as a car!
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The trail leading to Landscape Arch is 1.5 miles round trip, and involves a lot of trekking through sand. Some of the rocks you have to walk across are slippery from the sand as well, so be sure to wear shoes that have good grip. The trail winds through tall, standing rocks, so there is some shade to give you a break from the sun.
Further along the Devil’s Garden path is a leaned rock that leads to an awesome vantage point of Devil’s Garden itself. It’s a bit of a sketchy climb to get to the top, and there are sheer drops on each side, but the view is awesome. It also makes for an epic handstand opportunity. From this lookout, you can see Landscape Arch as well as Tunnel Arch in the distance.
Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch is located near Devil’s Garden campgrounds and is an extremely short walk (.2 miles) from a nearby parking lot. Because the arch itself is housed in a crevice between two giant rocks, there’s a lot of shade. This means the sand is much cooler, so feel free to dig your toes in the sand for some immediate refreshment!
There are many outcroppings to climb, tight squeezes to try to fit through (to the exploring kids’ delight), and shaded overhangs perfect for sitting (the parents’ favorite). Being enclosed by such high walls really makes you feel small in a way not even the biggest arches in the park could.
Want to know the best part about Broken Arch? It’s walking distance from Sand Dune Arch! Seriously, you won’t even have to move your car (you’ll want to put your shoes back on though). It’s less than a half-mile from Sand Dune to Broken, and you walk through a really cool expanse of just desert shrubs. If you can ignore the cars driving behind you, it really feels like you’re alone in the middle of the desert.
Broken Arch isn’t actually broken. There’s a crack in the zenith of the arch, but it’s only cosmetic. It does give the underside of the arch a really cool overlapping appearance. The crack doesn’t cause any structural weakness, so don’t worry about climbing up to catch a glimpse of the view! It isn’t a steep climb, but most of it is slickrock, so be sure to watch your footing.
We inadvertently saved the best for last with Double Arch. It’s only a half-mile walk from the parking lot to the arch. It seems like less of a walk because the arches are massive (standing over 100 feet tall and almost 150 feet wide), so the distance might catch you by surprise. The back arch offers a gorgeous view, if you can climb up to it. Most of the rock is steep slickrock, so it makes climbing somewhat treacherous. I got to a ledge about 40 feet up and almost fell off because the rock is so slippery.
If you’re looking for food and/or a cold beer after visiting Arches, I highly suggest MOAB brewery. It’s MOAB’s self-proclaimed largest microbrewery (is that an oxymoron?). The brewery sits in the center of MOAB and is a short ten minutes from Arches. I had one of the best BBQ burgers of my life, and their MOAB Especial is now one of my favorite Golden Wheat Ales (you can’t find it in Florida, heartbreakingly). Michele and I loved their beer so much, we brought four back to our campsite, because tent beer is the best beer.
Thanks for reading!
How are you liking this series from our week-long Utah trip? Is there anything in particular about Arches National Park that you have questions about? Any comments on somewhere we missed out on? Leave a comment and let me know!