Thinking about Arches? It's one of my favorite national parks! It's just a few hours from home, so we have been there with our kids, grandparents, and friends many times.
On one President's Day weekend in Moab, Utah, we only had half a day to spend in Arches National Park, so we focused on our favorite places and saved the rest for another time. Our first stop was the visitor's center where we got the kids information on the free Junior Ranger Program. Our children have collected at least a dozen Junior Ranger badges from national and state parks and this is a fun way to teach kids about the park, nature and being responsible with both.
There are several great short hikes for families in Arches. Here are our favorites.
Our next stop was the Delicate Arch hike. This hike is about three miles round trip, uphill most of the way there and downhill most of the way back. There is not much shade along the way and that's what great about hiking it in February, because the temperature is just right for hiking on sun-soaked red rock with a jacket or sweatshirt that can be peeled off when you get warm.
There are not many scary ledges or technical sections along the way, so Delicate Arch is a good hike for families. However, at the arch itself, there are some big, unfenced drops. My kids were fine and I grabbed their hands when I was anxious, but I recently spoke with a friend who took five young children on this hike and the risks worried her so much that she couldn't enjoy it. You make the call for your family.
This was the first time my mom had hiked to Delicate Arch. The hike was strenuous for her – and me too – but she said that no photo can compare to walking around the bend and seeing the iconic arch in person. I agree completely.
The Delicate Arch hike took most of our time, so we made just one more stop before calling it a day. We drove to the Windows area and stopped at Double Arch. Did you see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? These arches are one of the locations at the beginning of the film. You can see these arches clearly form the parking area and it's a short walk. Climbing around underneath is an irresistible adventure for kids – and many adults too!
Sand Dune Arch
Another short hike that is great for kids is the Sand Dune Arch hike. It is a third mile one way and is all flat on fine orange sand. The last time we did this hike, we brought sand toys and let the kids dig deep holes in the sand alongside the trail. It's a fun place to stop and play!
Arches is great for everyone, whether you just want to spend an hour driving through or spend a full day or more exploring the remote corners of the wilderness on foot. We are always looking forward to our next trip to Arches National Park.
Landscape Arch is the largest arch in the world, and families can see it from a relatively flat and short trail. Drive to the end of the main road in Arches National Park to the Devil's Garden trail head. The parking lot is large, but will fill on busy days.
You can choose to continue on the Devil's Garden Trail to Double O Arch, or return to the parking lot. The trail becomes much more difficult after Landscape Arch.
The Visitor Center is located just inside the park entrance. It's a good place to learn about the park, fill water bottles and use modern toilets. Pick up free Junior Ranger workbooks for kids ages 5-12. When they complete the requirements, return to the Ranger Desk for a free souvenir ranger badge.
Good to Know
Where: Just outside of Moab, Utah on Highway 191
When: Year-round. Summers are usually very hot. Visit in spring or fall for the best weather. We love visiting in winter! It's often cool but sunny, with few crowds and low prices.
How Much: $30 per vehicle for 7 days
How Long: A few hours to a few days. You can do most or all of these activities on the same day.
Amenities: visitor center, gift shop, bathrooms (mostly primitive), picnic areas, camping
How else can we help?
Need a hotel recommendation? We usually stay at Aarchway Inn, but there are lots of good options in Moab. Click the button to check rates and read reviews at TripAdvisor.
We usually pair a visit to Arches with a day in Canyonlands National Park nearby. Click the Next button below to read my article about Canyonlands National Park. Or visit my Grand County or San Juan County pages to see all my tips for visiting this area.