Arches National Park
Guide

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Introduction

There is no better place to see a beautiful sunset than over Arches National Park in eastern Utah. This park is known for its breathtaking rock formations — it's home to more than 2,000 unique and natural stone arches plus impressive pinnacles, giant fins, and balancing rocks. Arches National Park is like no other place in the world; it's so surreal that it often gives people the feeling of living on another planet. You won’t find the park's variety of landforms, colors, and textures anywhere else in the world. Visiting the park is a truly unique experience. While visiting, indulge your creativity by naming what the formations look like to you. Become one with the desert as you observe some of the one-of-a-kind life forms that live here. Lose yourself in this red-rock wonderland from either under the stars or from the comfort of your RV.

There are many ways to immerse yourself in the beautiful landmarks of Utah. Take a scenic drive through the park in your campervan, or get hands-on by backpacking, biking, or participating in one of the many ranger-led programs. No matter how you wish to experience the park, there are designated areas, maintained trails, and knowledgeable park rangers to help you stay safe while you see it all.

Spring and fall are the most popular times to visit the national park because of its moderate climate. For visitors who are not afraid of warm temperatures, summer is also a great, yet busy, time to visit. Fortunately, because of the park's location in the Utah desert, the summer might see hot temperatures during the day, but by night, the temperature drops after sunset and remains cool through sunrise. Because of the temperature variations, be sure to dress in layers. In Utah, you won’t have to worry about humidity, especially if you’re camping overnight. It’s the perfect kind of weather for lying under twinkling stars while observing the shadows of the magnificent rock formations in the distance.

There’s something for the whole family to enjoy at Arches. Whether you are new to hiking, or you are a professional backpacker, there are options for everyone. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails provide for everything from short tours to days-long treks. You don’t have to be a rock climber to get great views, but if do you come to climb, you will have plenty of opportunities. Whether you're hauling your own rig or renting one from nearby, camping at Arches National Park, in one of the many RV-friendly campgrounds, is a great way to experience the impressive beauty of one of Utah's most famous locations.

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RV Rentals in Arches National Park

Transportation in Arches National Park

Driving

You can find the entrance to the park just north of the town of Moab, Utah. This entry point is the best way to access the park. From Moab, drive north on US 191 for five miles, or from Interstate 70, drive south on US 191 for 22 miles. Once you are in the park, you’ll find that driving either a car, truck, or camper, that you’ll have convenient access to various viewpoints and trailheads, as well as an easy way to get to the scenic drives that traverse the park.

Parking

While Arches National Park has numerous places to park your vehicle, because of the park’s popularity, parking may be challenging, especially during the tourist season. If you’ve brought an RV or trailer, consider leaving it at your campsite and bring a smaller vehicle into the park. It may save you from the trouble of trying to find a place to park your larger rig.

Public Transport

While driving is the most popular and preferred method of transportation throughout the park, there are also the options of taking a bike tour or a commercial tour. Biking is only recommended for those with plenty of experience — the main driving routes are narrow, and you have to be aware of the heavy car traffic. With a commercial tour, though, you can leave the driving to someone else and learn about the sights along the way all while leaving your large RV parked at your campsite.

Campgrounds and parking in Arches National Park

Campsites in Arches National Park

Reservations camping

Devils Garden Campground

RV and tent campers may sleep among the red-rock arches in Arches National Park at the Devils Garden Campground. The campground is located 18 miles from the park’s entrance. RVs up to 40 feet in length are allowed. During the popular months between the beginning of March and the end of October, all campsites must be reserved with no less than four days in advance and no more than six months in advance. The campground offers primitive-style camping, but campers have access to drinking water, grills, picnic tables, and both pit-style and flush toilets.

Green River KOA

Surrounded by nature on a grand scale, Green River, Utah, is within 90 minutes or less from three national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. Stay close to all the sights from the comfort of your campervan while staying the Green River KOA, conveniently located right on the I-70 Business Loop. Big rigs up to 80 feet will find shaded, full hookup sites ideal, as they have cable TV and up to 50-amp electrical service. Pets are allowed in some areas of the campground. Propane and firewood are available for purchase. If you don’t get enough exercise sightseeing, come back to the facilities and swim laps in the pool, or relax poolside and stay connected with Wi-Fi.

Moab KOA

In the middle of some of the United States most scenic canyons, as well as proximity to three national parks, you will find Moab KOA. Moab KOA is the closest KOA to Arches National Park. This KOA has upgraded amenities and a resort-like feel. This big-rig friendly campground has the facilities to make you comfortable when you return to your RV after exploring Moab and Arches National Park. The KOA offers Wi-Fi, cable TV, an upgraded pool and hot tub, as well as a refurbished Airstream that serves as a poolside beverage and snack cart. If you are visiting Moab and plan to mountain bike, this KOA also has a bike rental, and a bike wash and repair station. Moab KOA and the surrounding scenic areas provide plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors whether you enjoy biking, hiking, walking, or simply relaxing.

First-come first-served

Devils Garden Campground

Devils Garden Campground is surrounded by large, breathtaking rock formations inside of Arches National Park. If you can’t plan your trip in advance, don’t worry about not camping at Devil’s Garden Campground. The park keeps first-come, first-served campsites open for on-the-spot camping during the offseason. As the only campground inside of the park, the campground is usually full. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, visit between the beginning of November through the end of February when all of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground features flush toilets, potable water, and trash collection. Firewood is available for purchase.

Alternate camping

Group Campsites at Devils Garden

Devils Garden Campground isn’t just for RV camping. If you are traveling with a group and you like to tent camp, Devils Garden offers group sites for tent campers. Group sites in Devils Garden permit up to 11 tents. If you have a larger group, try camping at the Canyon Wren Loop if you have fewer than 35 tents. There are even sites at the Juniper Basin Loop for tent-camping groups of up to 55 people. Group reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance.

BLM Campgrounds

Within the Moab area, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains 26 campsites. These sites are based on a strictly first-come, first-served basis and these sites do not allow reservations, unless you are reserving a large-group campsite. A maximum of 10 people and two vehicles are allowed for up to 14 days at a time at this RV-friendly camping area. BLM campsites tend to be more affordable than the campgrounds inside of the parks or commercial campgrounds, but RVers must be self-contained as there are no hookups or drinking water. The price, location, and off-the-grid camping make the BLM campgrounds an excellent option for those who visit Arches National Park.

Private Campgrounds

Outside the national park, you can find various commercial campgrounds in and around Moab that offer RV camping with full hookups, showers, laundry facilities, running water, and much more. Full amenity camping allows you to be close to all the action at Arches National Park while overnighting in the comfort of your motorhome. If you prefer glamping over backcountry camping, a private campground is the way to go. These campgrounds tend to be available on a first-come, first-serve basis; however, some private campgrounds accept reservations.

Seasonal activities in Arches National Park

Spring

Canyoneering

There are numerous places to go canyoneering in Arches National Park. Before exploring the park, it’s best to research park regulations. The park implements canyoneering regulations to ensure everyone helps to preserve the delicate rock formations. The landscape of Arches National Park is fragile, and all people should do their part to keep the arches as nature intended. All people must have a canyoneering permit to venture off-trail. If you are with a group, be aware that some areas, like Fiery Canyon or Lost Spring Canyon, limit group size to six people. Other canyoneering areas in the park limit group size to 10 people, so it’s best to be familiar with canyoneering limitations before planning which areas to explore.

Auto Touring

The roads through Arches National Park offer breathtaking views right from the comfort of your RV. There are plenty of overlooks where you can stop to get out, look around, and take pictures. There are different routes you can take, depending on how much time you’re willing to spend on the road and what you’re looking to see. Seeing the sites from your RV window is a great way to view arches as well as the other out-of-this-world rock formations found in the park.

Rock Climbing

Climbers from around the globe make the pilgrimage to Arches National Park every year to experience the world-class rock climbing that the park has to offer. Rock climbing requires a permit, and it follows much of the same rules and regulations as canyoneering, but all rock-climbing groups are limited to five people. Be sure to take special precautions when rock climbing. Knowing what weather to expect, being careful of your footing, and coming with the right equipment for your skill level are all important things to consider before climbing.

Commercial Touring

If you don’t want to take your car or search for motorhome parking in the crowded parking lots, why not choose to take a commercial tour through Arches National Park? By taking a tour, you’ll get to see the same spectacular views but with the added convenience of up-front parking. Tours also provide visitors with information on each site, so you will get to learn the finer details about the park that you might not know about if you do a self-guided tour. The best part of a guided tour? You won’t have to focus on driving, which will allow you to appreciate the sites even more.

Wildflower Viewing

In the spring, Arches National Park comes to life with all kinds of wildflowers. The wildflowers that you’ll find here aren’t like they are in other places in the world. Instead, they have specially adapted to the environment with waxy coverings on the leaves to help them survive. The wildflowers present a perfect opportunity for photographers, so don’t forget to pack your camera and other photography equipment with you before heading out in the RV.

Summer

Sightseeing

Devils Garden is perhaps the most sought after area to visit in Arches National Park. Devils Garden has extended arches, hiking trails, stargazing opportunities, and RV camping; it’s no wonder visitors flock to this spot year-round. Devils Garden is home to the longest arch in North America, the Landscape Arch, as well as other rock formations such as fins and spires. If you are a photographer, the Devils Garden is a great place to practice your photography skills. Numerous hiking trails dot the area, with options for beginners and more seasoned hikers alike. No matter your interests or age, Devils Garden is not something you will want to miss at Arches National Park.

Stargazing

The summertime in Arches National Park is the perfect time of year for stargazing. The warm days and the cooler nights help provide a clear sky. The best spots to stargaze in the park include Balanced Rock Picnic Area, the Windows, Garden of Eden Viewpoint, and Panorama Point. All of these spots offer romantic views of the open, starry-night sky. These views are often better than you’d see anywhere else. The farther you are away from the city, the brighter the stars seem to shine through. Stargazers may choose to peak at the universe on their own or head out with a ranger to learn about the starts from the experts.

Morning Programs

On some mornings, rangers lead short, interactive programs. The locations and times of the morning programs vary, but generally, the rangers offer at least one program every day. Each program lasts from five to 15 minutes. These programs are free, and they provide some fun, park-centered information that is exciting for the whole family.

Evening Programs

From early May to the end of September, Arches National Park offers an evening program at the Devils Garden Campground amphitheater. Times on these free programs can differ, but the programs tend to start around sundown. These special events usually run between 45 minutes to an hour, and they provide entertainment and education for people of all ages.

Community Artist-Led Programs

In the summer, guests have the opportunity to hang out and learn from artists who live with the community of Moab. When you attend an artist-led event, you might be able to learn a few new skills from them and maybe even try making some original art for yourself. Whether you are a skilled or budding artist, visiting the park is the perfect way to gain inspiration as well as learn new techniques to apply to your own creations.

Ranger-Led Programs

There is a wide range of ranger-led programs in Arches National Park. You can go on different guided tours, learn all about the park’s history and nature at the different ranger-led talks, and you can acquire new skills such as painting or stargazing. All of the programs are free, and most are family-friendly. The rangers at Arches National Park will be glad to answer any questions to help you in any way they can.

Fall

Backpacking

Backpacking can be a fun thing to do at Arches National Park, but be sure to come prepared and expect rough terrain. Make the RV your basecamp and head out for a backcountry experience to reconnect with nature. A permit is required, and seven days is the maximum time limit for overnight backpacking trips. Be sure to pack all that you’ll need, especially water, and be sure that you know what kind of weather to expect when you go.

Cycling and Mountain Biking

Road biking is allowed on the park’s main roads, as well as outside of the park on the roadways, but the trails inside of the park restrict off-road mountain biking. If you want to mountain bike, venture outside of Arches to the trails located in and around Moab. Moab’s trails offer plenty of biking options; however, so feel free to attach your bikes to the back of your campervan and explore Moab on two wheels. If you are a road cyclist, keep in mind that cycling on the park’s main roads that car traffic may be a concern. Road biking is only recommended for experienced cyclists.

Horseback Riding

If horseback riding is your preferred way to explore the park, hitch up the horse trailer behind the rig, and get ready for a beautiful ride. Horseback riding can be a fun and relaxing way to see what this national park has to offer. While some areas restrict horseback riding, the park is still very open and provides plenty of places to ride. Just be sure to clean up after your horse and remember that grazing is not allowed.

Hiking the Fiery Furnace

Hiking the Fiery Furnace trails is not your average walk in the park, and therefore; it is not recommended for everyone. Children under the age of five are not allowed on the trail, and children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The hike is physically demanding and requires good hiking shoes or boots. All hikers should carry at least a quart of water with them, and it’s best to bring a backpack so that you can navigate the challenging trail hands-free. A park ranger will guide you on your hike, but you’ll still have to face loose, irregular, and broken sandstone, high drop-offs, narrow ledges, and close spots to climb through. Be aware of heat exposure and physical requirements before entering the Fiery Furnace. This hike is available between April 15th through September 29th. If you’re willing to accept the challenge, this popular hike is a rewarding experience.

Easy Hiking

Hiking options at Arches National Park range from easy to difficult, so you can be assured that there is a hiking opportunity for everyone, regardless of their skill level. Some trails, such as Balanced Rock and Sand Dune Arch, are as short as .3 miles. Other trails, like the Primitive Trail at Devils Garden, are much longer. The Primitive Trail is a strenuous 7.2 miles. There are many trail options, so all hikers may pick and choose which trails they’d like to traverse during their visit.

Winter

Winter Hiking

Hiking in the winter can be a challenge, but if you’re willing to brave the cold air and the risks that come with winter hiking, then pack the hiking boots along with you in the RV. It is recommended that you use traction devices, trekking poles, and your most keen eyes to look out for hidden trail markers and slippery spots. Hiking in the winter is not recommended for less experienced hikers. Be aware that temperatures can get as low as 0 degrees during this time, so plan accordingly. The good news about visiting during this time of year is the park won’t be as crowded as it is during the warmer months.

Shopping and Souvenir Hunting

Do you wish to take some of the park back home with you? You can do just that by buying a book or an Arches National Park magnet from the bookstore, located inside of the Visitor Center. At the bookstore, you’ll find all kinds of educational and fun books related to the park, as well as other items like posters, tee-shirts, and passport stamps. Visiting the bookstore is also an excellent way to take a break and warm up from the cold when you are visiting in the winter.

Sunrise and Sunset Viewing

Arches National Park is well known for its breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. The wonderfully high overlooks, along with the unique rock formations, make the perfect backdrop for a rising or setting sun. If you weren’t sick of the color yet, the oranges in the sky even match the orange rocks. Whether you’re catching the sun after a hike or viewing it from the window of your Airstream, you will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for something romantic to do, or you simply want to enjoy the view, watching a sunrise at Arches National Park is the way to go.

Winter Photography

The beautiful sunsets, the stunning natural rock formations, the lack of crowds—what more could you ask for in a perfect winter photography opportunity? The off-season conditions have people from all over coming to collect snapshots and see all that the park has to offer. Bring your best camera with you in the pop-up camper and wake up early to capture some stunning pictures during your visit to Arches National Park. For some great lighting in the morning, head to the Moab Fault or the Double Arch. Your best bet for this evening photography is at the Skyline Arch or the Balanced Rock. Be sure not to wander off the trails as you may harm the fragile land that can take centuries to recover.

Relaxing

There’s no better place to get away than Arches National Park, especially in the winter when fewer people are inclined to brave the chilly evening and morning temperatures. If you visit during the winter, make sure you have a heat source, and prepare to bundle up with your blankets, sweaters, and hot chocolate in your RV. If you need some silence and seclusion from the world during the winter, Arches National Park is the place to visit.

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