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Here you will find the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches in the world plus an astounding variety of balanced rocks, colossal sandstone fins, and soaring pinnacles and spires. Five miles north of Moab on US Hwy 191. Open year-round. The visitor center is open every day except Christmas Day, though hours of operation change with the seasons. (Check the website for hours.) Restrooms and drinking water are available but not food. There are no restaurants or hotel accommodations in the park. Books and maps are for sale. A park orientation program is shown in the auditorium.
To see the park by car, an 18-mile scenic drive starts from the visitor center with several sharp switchbacks and then winds through sculptured red rocks. Park Avenue is the first turnoff along the road and one of the major viewpoints in Arches National Park. From the parking lot you will see a small canyon with striking formations on both sides. Next, Three Gossips and Courthouse Towers will simply amaze you. After Courthouse Towers, the park road crosses an open landscape of petrified sand dunes and eroded pinnacles before a turnoff leads to The Windows, the first major concentration of arches and spires. Fiery Furnace is next with a good viewpoint close to the road. Beyond Fiery Furnace, the road continues past several large arches and ends at Devils Garden. Many of the rock formations are visible from the road, and numerous pullouts and viewpoints have interpretive signs about these colossal rock formations. The famous Delicate Arch is visible from a side road that leads to historic Wolfe Ranch. The road ends one mile beyond the ranch at Delicate Arch Viewpoint.
Allow time for hiking one of the park’s trails. Arches has an abundance of hiking trails ranging from short walks (0.2 miles) on nature trails to more adventurous hikes of up to seven miles. Books describing self-guided walking tours are available at the visitor center. A variety of interpretive programs and free guided walks are offered by park guides and volunteers. Program types, times, and locations vary throughout the year and are subject to last-minute changes due to weather or other factors. Check at Arches Visitor Center upon arriving for more details. Fiery Furnace is a spectacular maze of eroded red and cream-colored ridges with narrow gullies between them. No trails, signs, or cairns (rock markers) and GPS units don’t work. Ranger-guided hikes into Fiery Furnace are offered daily, spring through fall. This tour is incredibly popular and sells out months in advance. Reservations can be made online at www.recreation.gov.
Become A Ranger
Kids, become a Junior Ranger and help protect the park. Ask at the visitor center how you can get involved. Options include completing a booklet or checking out a Red Rock Explorer Pack. You’ll earn a badge and certificate and join the special ranks of Junior Rangers.
Pets are not allowed on any of the trails. Leashed and restrained pets may accompany visitors in the campground, at overlooks, and at pullouts along the paved scenic drives. Cell service at Arches is spotty. It varies among carriers. As a rule of thumb, signals are strongest wherever the La Sal Mountains are visible. Bicycles are permitted on roads only. For your safety, it’s advised to ride in this park only in the off season (October-April). ATVs are not allowed in Arches.
Devils Garden Campground, located 18 miles from the park entrance, is open year-round. 50 individual sites, $25/night. Each site accommodates up to ten people. Facilities include potable water, picnic tables, grills, and pit-style and flush toilets. There are no showers or RV dump/fill stations. Some sites will accommodate RVs up to 30ft in length. Bundles of firewood are available for $5. All sites may be reserved for nights March 1-Oct. 31. There is an additional $9 reservation fee. Reservations must be made no less than four days and no more than 180 days in advance at www.recreation.gov, 877-444-6777, 877-833-6777 (TDD), or 518-885-3639. During the winter months, Nov. 1-Feb. 28, sites 1 to 24 are available on a self-serve basis. The park does not accept reservations and does not maintain information about site availability. All 50 sites in Devils Garden Campground are usually reserved in advance during the busy season (March-October). There is a free, 45-minute illustrated evening program at Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater. Topics change nightly.
Avoid the Crowds
During peak season (March-October), this popular park is crowded. Parking is limited at all destinations. Popular trailheads like Delicate Arch and Devils Garden may fill for hours at a time, especially on weekends and holidays. Park in designated areas only. Never park on vegetation or in a manner that blocks traffic. Parking for oversized vehicles is extremely limited. During peak hours (10am-4pm), expect travel times to be longer than expected along the scenic drive. Hiking trails may be crowded. It is not uncommon for hundreds of people to visit Delicate Arch at sunset, so plan a sunrise trip instead.
Taking a commercial tour offers alternatives to an almost always sold-out Fiery Furnace Ranger hike. Plus, group drives, or group drives with hikes, help keep down the congestion in the park. Contact Canyonlands by Night & Day for scenic bus tours, 435-259-5261, www.canyonlandsbynight.com.
For photo tours, contact Tom Till Tours with Tom Till and Dan Norris 435-259-5327, 435-260-2885,
Moab Adventure Center, 435-259-7019, has Arches bus tours and Fiery Furnace hikes, NAVTEC Expeditions offers front and backcountry tours 435-259-7983,
www.navtec.com, Sheri Griffith RIver Expeditions offers Arches tours, 435-259-8229,
www.griffithexp.com and Tag-A-Long Expeditions has Fiery Furnace tours and full-day 4x4 tours, 435-259-8946, www.tagalong.com.
GyPSy Guide, Arches National Park’s driving tour app, might just be your perfect companion as you explore. It plays commentary automatically as you drive so you won’t miss a thing. www.gypsyguide.com.