Utah’s Arches National Park is one of the most stunning National Parks in the Southwest. There are plenty of reasons to visit the park, but the many arches are obviously what make it so popular. I’ve only been to Arches once so far, but I’d probably place it in my Top Ten National Parks of the U.S. Here are 10 reasons to make the trip to Arches:
- Double O Arch
This arch is just over two miles down the Devil’s Garden Trail in the northern end of the park. Double O Arch is essentially two arches in one. The upper arch spans 71 feet, while the lower one is only 21 feet across. The larger arch forms a large circle or “O” above the lower one.
- Skyline Arch
Skyline Arch sits atop a massive brown sandstone wall. The arch is 45 feet high and 69 feet wide. Despite it requiring a very short trail (.4 miles roundtrip) I was alone on the trail when I saw the arch. That helped me to like the area a little bit more.
- Balanced Rock
As you might gather from its name, Balanced Rock is an especially precarious rock formation. There is a 55-foot tall oblong boulder that rests atop a rocky pedestal that is over 70 feet tall. The section where the two rocks appear connected is the thinnest part of the formation. A short trail circles Balanced Rock.
- Turret Arch
Turret Arch is located in the Windows Area of the park. In fact, it is directly across from the Windows. Turret Arch is 64 feet high and 39 feet wide. It has a large brown stone tower beside it.
- Location, location, location.
Arches National Park is in a great area of southeast Utah. It is just five miles north of Moab, the outdoor recreation capital of the southwest. It is also less than thirty miles from Canyonlands National Park. Capitol Reef National Park, Monument Valley, and Four Corners Monument are all less than three hours away.
- Devil’s Garden Trail
The Devil’s Garden Trail is the longest maintained trail in the park. A total of eight different arches can be seen from the path including Landscape Arch and Double O Arch. The trail can be hiked in several different ways. Most people just hike to Landscape Arch, which is two miles roundtrip. There is a primitive section of trail that creates a large loop trail, which totals 7.2 miles.
- The Windows
The Windows are two gigantic arches near the middle of the National Park. The North Window is 51 feet tall and 93 feet wide, while the South Window is even bigger at 66 feet high and 105 feet wide. There is a mile-long trail that leads around the two arches.
- Double Arch
This arch was actually filmed in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It is a pair of arches that are joined together at one end. The larger of the two arches is 105 feet high and 163 feet wide, which is bigger than either of the Windows. The smaller arch making up Double Arch is 61 feet high and 60 feet wide, almost perfectly even. I walked below the large arches when I was there before walking on the quarter-mile trail back to the parking lot.
- Landscape Arch
The longest arch in the world is a mere mile down the Devil’s Garden Trail. Most people stop and see it and return to the trailhead, making the rest of the trail much less crowded. The size of the arch is very impressive. The fact that it is only eleven feet wide at its thinnest spot and 306 feet long makes me wonder how it doesn’t come crashing to the ground.
- Delicate Arch
The king of the park has to be the world-famous Delicate Arch. The arch adorns Utah license plates. The mesmerizing arch is 45 feet high and 33 feet wide, making it much smaller than several other arches, but the sight of it is magnificent. The fact that it is totally freestanding is a big part of it for me. If there’s only one thing you can see in Arches National Park, see this. And if at all possible see it as sunset, when the whole scene glows in a soft warm light. I wrote about this in the past – Delicate Arch at Sunset. It is a thing of beauty. The hike is three miles roundtrip, but it is a little steep early on.
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