Arches National Park Essentials: 10 Basic Things You Need to Know
Read this before you plan your visit to the park.
Utah’s red rock country is a sight to behold and Arches National Park holds some of the area’s most amazing scenery. With towering sandstone rock formations in every direction, many of which have eroded into the park’s namesake arches, a drive or a hike through this landscape is truly stunning. See Utah’s most famous scene, Delicate Arch, which is pictured on its license plate, gaze at ancient art at Courthouse Wash or watch as millions of stars appear at Devils Garden Campground. Before you head to the park, familiarize yourself with these Arches essentials.
Arches requires timed-entry reservations for visitors to enter the park between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., April 1 through October 31. Reservations open three months in advance, with one month blocks released at a time. For example, reservations for the entire month of September open on June 1. Reservations are popular, so be sure to get one early.
Get your pass.
In addition to your peak-hours reservation, you’ll need to pay a park entrance fee. You can buy a $30, 7-day pass at a park entrance station, or use your America the Beautiful or other interagency annual pass to get into the national park.
Drinking plenty of water is key to surviving the dry and hot desert landscape. Bring at least two liters of water per person with you when you hit the trails.
Rangers respond to hundreds of heat exhausted hikers in the summer. Hike smart and avoid being out in the middle of the day when there’s little shade. Temperatures often soar above 100°F in the summer months.
Don’t bust the crust.
Arches is full of cryptobiotic or “living” soil that helps keep the fragile desert ecosystem intact. It can take hundreds of years to grow and can be quickly killed by foot traffic. Learn how to identify it and stay on trails to avoid damage.
Check the forecast.
Violent afternoon thunderstorms often occur in the summer months, dropping tons of rain all at once that the hard desert ground can’t absorb. This leads to flash flooding where a trail can be a dry wash one minute and a raging river the next. Check the forecast (www.weather.gov/slc/flashflood) before heading out and keep an eye on the sky while hiking. If you do get caught in a flood, seek higher ground immediately.
Leave the flip-flops for the pool. Closed-toed shoes with good tread like hiking boots or tennis shoes will protect your feet. You’ll be encountering many dirt and slick rock trails.
Keep it beautiful.
With 1.4 million visitors in 2022, every piece of trash adds up. Skip the plastic water bottle and refill your reusable at the park’s filtered filling stations. Pack out everything you pack in when you hit the trails. Yes, that means everything, including TP.
Know your Fido 411.
Dogs are only allowed on leash in campgrounds and parking lots. It’s best to leave furry friends at home so you can explore more of the park than the roads. Never leave your pet in the car as temperatures can become dangerous, even on a mild day.
Where to Stay?
There are no hotels in Arches National Park. Most visitors stay in the gateway town of Moab. The park has one campground which can be reserved six months in advance on Recreation.gov for dates March through October. November through February, campsites are first-come, first-served. Reservations fill quickly, so it’s a good idea to book as early as possible. Camping is only allowed in designated campgrounds, or in the backcountry with a permit.