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7 Best Sunrise Spots in Arches National Park

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Last Updated on May 27, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

Planning a desert adventure in Utah and wondering where to find the best sunrise spot in Arches National Park? There are many great options, and we’ll cover them all in this guide. But one spot stands out as the best sunrise location in our opinion!

Tim and I have visited Arches National Park several times on our travels in the U.S. Southwest, and have gotten to experience several sunrises in this spectacular park.

In this guide to the best sunrise in Arches National Park, we cover which location we think is the absolute best, the runner-ups, and what to know in advance about watching the sunrise in Arches National Park!

North Window Arch frames Turret Arch at sunrise in Arches National Park
North Window Arch frames Turret Arch at sunrise in Arches National Park

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

Overview of the Best Sunrise Spots in Arches National Park

LocationHike Distance (miles)Hike Elevation (feet)DifficultyNumber of ArchesNotes
Windows Loop + Double Arch1.3 total190 feet totalEasy4See four unique arches in one small area. Ideal for photographers.
Delicate Arch3.2629 Moderate1Utah’s most iconic arch. Ideal for hikers.
Landscape Arch1.9252Easy3+Great for families with kids.
Park Avenue1.8298EasyBest non-hiking sunrise option
Balanced Rock0.355EasyBest for sunrise viewing from your car

The BEST Sunrise Location in Arches National Park

The award for the best sunrise destination in Arches National Park goes to The Windows, where you can see the North and South Windows, Turret Arch, and Double Arch. It’s essentially four sunrise spots in one. Plus, there is very minimal hiking required, meaning you can spend a little bit of time at each arch during the sunrise and golden hour period when the light is delectable.

The Windows + Double Arch

Here’s how we recommend spending a sunrise morning in Arches National Park to visit all 4 arches at The Windows. This sequence is ideal for timing with the sunrise light conditions.

Double Arch

We recommend going to Double Arch first during the blue hour when there’s enough ambient light to see your surroundings but the sun hasn’t risen yet. The reason for this is that as soon as the sun rises, it will create a shadow of one of the arms of the arch onto the other arm. There are certainly some creative and compelling photo compositions you could create using shadow, but we prefer even lighting for photos in general. Thus, you should hit Double Arch first, before the sun rises, to make the most of the neutral light and save the Window Arches for sunrise itself.

  • Double Arch Trail
  • Distance: 0.6-mile round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 95 feet
  • Time: About 30 minutes with photos

North Window Arch

The Window Arches and Turret Arch loop trail begins across the parking lot from Double Arch. You’ll start on the trail hiking east straight towards North Window Arch. Looking east towards North Window Arch is a fantastic spot to watch the sun first crest over the horizon. From the right angles, you can even catch a sunburst as the sun kisses the inner edges of the arch.

  • Windows Loop Trail
  • Distance: 0.7 miles loop
  • Elevation gain: 95 feet
  • Time: About 45 minutes with photos
  • Includes North and South Windows and Turret Arch

Turret Arch

Hike through North Window Arch to the other side, hugging the rocks on the left once you walk through the arch. In front of you is a rocky ledge that faces back west the way you came. Go up on that rock and look west back through North Window Arch and you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of Turret Arch framed by North Window Arch. This is one of my favorite views in Arches National Park, especially when the sunrise light hits the faces of North Window and Turret Aches, causing them to glow a fiery orange.

South Window Arch

Walk back through North Window Arch and continue to follow the trail, which is now heading in the direction of Turret Arch.

After a few paces, turn around for the iconic face-like view of North and South Window Arches, connected with a rock bridge “nose”. You can probably see why the Windows are also sometimes called “the Spectacles”!

Why Window Arches is the BEST Sunrise Destination in Arches National Park

  • You get to see four arches in one general location
  • The ideal lighting conditions of each (blue hour at Double Arch, sunrise and golden hour at Windows Loop) make for a seamless itinerary
  • Only minimal hiking on mostly flat surfaces required
  • The parking area is large so you have more of a chance of getting a spot
  • Less crowded at sunrise than Delicate Arch
  • There’s a bathroom at the parking lot, for when the coffee has run its course

Other Sunrise Spots in Arches National Park

If you have a few days to spend at Arches National Park to catch multiple sunrises or just want some more ideas for the best sunrise locations in Arches National Park, here are our recommendations!

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is the most famous hike in Arches National Park. This is the arch featured on Utah license plates, and most visitors to Utah want to see this iconic arch for themselves! Sunrise is an amazing time to hike to Delicate Arch. If you don’t mind hiking in the dark on the way (bring a headlamp!) you can arrive to Delicate Arch in time to watch the sun’s first rays bounce against the red rocks.

We hiked to Delicate Arch for sunrise a few years ago in January. It was bitterly cold at about 18 degrees Fahrenheit, but with the right warm layers it was well-worth it to see sunrise at Delicate Arch! There were only a few other people there that morning, perhaps deterred by the cold weather, so it was an uncommonly peaceful visit to Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch is a great sunrise option in Arches National Park and is perfect for those who want to see THE iconic view at sunrise and don’t mind hiking ~ 3 miles round trip for it!

Delicate Arch is also an excellent sunset destination. We’ve hiked to Delicate Arch for both sunrise and sunset. Read more about which one we think is best here.

  • Delicate Arch Trail
  • Distance: 3.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation gain: 95 feet
  • Time: About 2.5 hours with photos
Delicate Arch at sunrise
Delicate Arch at sunrise

Landscape Arch and the Devil’s Playground

Another sunrise option in Arches National Park for those who don’t mind a short hike is Landscape Arch, part of the Devil’s Playground trail. There are many arches here, so you can have your pick of locations to watch the sunrise. Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch are two more to look for on this same trail!

  • Landscape Arch
  • Distance: 1.9 miles loop
  • Elevation gain: 252 feet
  • Time: 1.5 hours with photos

Park Avenue

You can enjoy beautiful views of the towering rock formations known as the Courthouse Towers and Park Avenue without hiking at all, making it an easy option to access for sunrise! If you want to hike, there is a 2-mile trail here that leads down into the valley among the towering cliffs.

On our first trip to Arches National Park, we hiked about half of the trail, and it is definitely awe-inspiring to stand beneath the towering rock formations that resemble skyscrapers. You’ll see why Park Avenue earned its name!

For the best views, though, the sandy hill at the start of the trail is perfect for sunrise – no long hike required!

  • Park Avenue Trail
  • Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation gain: 298 feet
  • Time: About 1.5 hours with photos

Balanced Rock

If sunrise is too early or too cold to get out of your vehicle, enjoy views of Balanced Rock at sunrise right from your car! This is the easiest and coziest sunrise option in Arches National Park.

Balanced Rock is one of the first pullouts you’ll come to on the Arches Scenic Drive, which is another reason why it’s an excellent sunrise option. Less time driving to your destination means more time sleeping!

  • Balanced Rock Loop Trail
  • Distance: 0.3 miles loop
  • Elevation gain: 55 feet
  • Time: About 15 minutes with photos

Where to Watch Sunrise in Arches National Park – Map

Tips for Sunrise Photography in Arches National Park

  1. Arrive early to scout out the perfect shot and framing for your location.
  2. Decide whether you want to photograph the sun itself, or what the sun lights up. Face east to photograph the sun, and west to photograph objects in the sun’s glow.
  3. Have fun with the shadows that the arches create on the landscape as the sun hits them. This makes for an especially beautiful composition at Delicate Arch with the arch’s shadow against the red rock to the right.
  4. Use a wide-angle lens to capture arches in their entirety.
  5. Edit your photos using Lightroom Presets if you shoot in RAW!

We shoot with a Sony a7iii and use a tripod to capture photos of us together. You can find all of our camera gear on Amazon here.

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Admission and Timed Entry to Arches National Park

Timed-entry reservations are required to enter Arches National Park from April 1 through October 31 between 7 am and 4 pm every year. This means that for sunrise visits, you will probably not need a timed-entry permit since you would need to be in the park well before 7 am anyway to be at your sunrise destination in time. If you are visiting the park during this annual window and entering between 7 am and 4 pm, you can make your reservation 3 months in advance of the date you want to visit here. Tickets are first-come, first-served, so it is a good idea to be online and ready to purchase your ticket right when the tickets are released daily at 8 am Mountain Time.

From November 1 through March 31, timed-entry permits are not required.

Regardless of when you visit, you will need to pay an entrance fee ($30 per private vehicle) OR use your national park pass.

If you plan on visiting more than 3-4 national parks in a calendar year, we recommend buying the parks pass since it gets you entry to all national park sites in the US at no additional cost.

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What to Pack + Wear for Sunrise in Arches National Park

  1. Layers: Mornings can be chilly, so wear layers that you can easily remove as the day warms up. A light jacket or fleece is a good idea.
  2. Comfortable Shoes: Opt for sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for walking, as you might explore the area around sunrise.
  3. Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection are beneficial.
  4. Water and Snacks: Carry water to stay hydrated, especially if you plan to explore after the sunrise. Snacks like granola bars or nuts can be handy.
  5. Camera/Phone: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning sunrise!
  6. Backpack: A small backpack can be useful to carry your essentials.
  7. Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen before heading out, even in the early morning. The sun can be intense.
Sarah and Tim at Ooh Aah Point In grand canyon national park

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Final Thoughts About the Best Place to Watch Sunrise in Arches National Park

Witnessing the sunrise in Arches National Park is an awe-inspiring experience that you should not miss on your trip to Utah. With its stunning red rock formations, unique arches, and vast desert landscape, this national park offers several remarkable locations to capture the beauty of dawn. From the iconic Delicate Arch viewpoint to lesser-known spots like Balanced Rock and Turret Arch, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the perfect vantage point.

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