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Arches National Park One Day Itinerary

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Last Updated on May 27, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

Can you do Arches National Park in one day? We say YES!

Welcome to Arches National Park, where towering sandstone arches and mesmerizing landscapes await at every turn. With just one day to explore this iconic destination, we’ve crafted the perfect itinerary to help you make the most of your time here. From sunrise to sunset, embark on a journey through breathtaking vistas, hidden canyons, and iconic landmarks that will leave you awe-inspired and craving for more.

Window Arch 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.

One Day in Arches National Park Map

How to Spend One Day in Arches National Park

If you only have one day in Arches National Park, this is how we recommend spending it! Following this itinerary will allow you to see all of the highlights. Here’s a quick glance at the overall itinerary before diving into the details!

  • Sunrise at Delicate Arch
  • Lower Delicate Arch viewpoint
  • Sand Dune Arch
  • Tower Arch Hike and Lunch
  • Devil’s Garden Hike to Landscape Arch
  • Windows Trail
  • Double Arch Trail
  • Balanced Rock
  • Sunset at Park Avenue

Sunrise: Hike to Delicate Arch

Hiking to Delicate Arch for sunrise is an absolute must-do in Arches National Park. The early start might seem tough, but trust me, it’s worth it! You’ll need to arrive at the park at least 2 hours before sunrise in order to have enough time to drive to the trailhead from the entrance station and then hike the ~1.6 miles to Delicate Arch.

Bring a headlamp or a flashlight, since you’ll be trekking in the dark before the sun comes up.

  • Hike Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Time: Approximately 2 hours

>>> Click here to read more about hiking to Delicate Arch at sunrise (and why we prefer it over sunset!)

Delicate Arch at sunrise
Delicate Arch at sunrise

Bonus: Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint

After your sunrise experience at Delicate Arch, drive to the parking area for the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. A short paved trail leads to a unique viewpoint of Delicate Arch.

Mid-Morning: Sand Dune Arch & Broken Arch

Leave the Delicate Arch area of the park and drive to the Sand Dune Arch parking lot. Heading out on the trail, you’ll first walk to your right to reach Sand Dune Arch, tucked between two rock walls.

After exploring Sand Dune Arch, turn back the way you came and follow the trail about a half mile to Broken Arch. This arch gets its name from the crevice at the top of the arch.

  • Hike Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Time: Approximately 1 hour

Noon: Picnic Lunch and Tower Arch

Eat a picnic lunch on the go (pack this with you!) and drive the dirt road to Tower Arch. Although the Tower Arch trail head is accessible by most any vehicle, the dirt road deters many visitors, and so you’ll find fewer crowds on the hike to Tower Arch than the rest of the park.

The hike starts with a steep scramble up a rocky ridge. From there, follow the cairns the rest of the way to Tower Arch. This is our favorite hike in Arches National Park thanks to its diverse desert views and fun, variable hiking terrain.

  • Hike Distance: 3 miles
  • Time: Approximately 2 hours

>>> Click here to read more about the Tower Arch Hike

Tower Arch From Inside

Early Afternoon: Devil’s Garden Trail to Landscape Arch

The Devil’s Garden trail is like a playground of arches. There are several spur trails to various arches along the main route, so it’s a fun place to wander around and explore. Landscape Arch is a great destination, though with more time you could hike even further to Double O or Dark Angel Arches. With just one day in Arches National Park, however, we recommend making Landscape Arch your turnaround point on the Devil’s Garden Trail.

  • Hike Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Time: Approximately 1.5 hours
Sarah in Devils Garden at Arches National Park

Late Afternoon: Windows Trail, Double Arch, and Balanced Rock

From Devil’s Garden, you will drive back down Arches Scenic Drive to the Windows and Turret Arches area of the park. One of my favorite areas of Arches National Park, the Windows and Turret Arch Trail and nearby Double Arch are outstanding short walks (0.6 miles each) perfect for golden hour and late afternoon.

Near the turn for Windows Road you’ll see Balanced Rock standing tall over the desert. This is a great area to walk around and explore. There are endless photography opportunities here as well!

  • Hike Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Time: Approximately 1 hour
Turret Arch as seen from Window Arch

Sunset: Park Avenue Trail

Even if you don’t hike the Park Avenue Trail, the view point from the lookout over the towering “skyscraper”-like rocks is an excellent choice for watching the sunset! If you have the energy and time, however, a walk down the trail to stand among the giants is well worth it!

  • Hike Distance: 1.8
  • Time: Approximately 1.5 hours
Tim and Sarah at Park Avenue in Arches National Park

Total Mileage and Time for One Day in Arches National Park

If you do everything on this one day itinerary for Arches National Park, you’ll clock in just shy of 13 miles and 9 hours of exploring. It’s a busy and long day for sure, but one you will remember for the rest of your life! If the mileage is too much for you for a single day, I recommend skipping the Park Avenue Trail and just enjoying sunset from the view point. You could skip Broken Arch to save an additional mile.

  • Hike Distance Total: 12.6 miles
  • Time Total: 9 hours

Frequently Asked Questions About Arches National Park

What are the must-see things to do in one day in Arches National Park?

To summarize, here are the must-see things included in this itinerary for one day in Arches National Park:

  • Sunrise at Delicate Arch
  • Lower Delicate Arch viewpoint
  • Sand Dune Arch
  • Tower Arch Hike
  • Devil’s Garden Hike to Landscape Arch
  • Windows Trail
  • Double Arch Trail
  • Balanced Rock
  • Park Avenue

Are reservations required to visit Arches National Park?

During the summer months, a timed-entry reservation is required to enter Arches National Park between the hours of . You can bypass the reservation requirement by arriving to the park outside of those hours (before or after). A timed entry permit is required from 7 am to 4 pm daily April 1 through October 31.

The timed entry reservation process exists to control crowding in the park and disperse visitors throughout the day during the busy season. You can obtain a timed entry reservation on recreation.gov.

During the winter months, a timed entry reservation is not required, but you will still need to pay for your entrance to the national park. If you plan on visiting at least 2 more national parks in the same 12 month period as your trip to Arches National Park, you should get the America the Beautiful Pass for fee-free entry to the entire US national park system!

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Get a National Parks Pass

Entry to all US national parks at no additional cost for 12 months

America The Beautiful National Parks Pass at REI

When is the best time to visit Arches National Park?

When planning your visit to Arches National Park, timing is key to optimizing your experience. Each season offers unique attractions:

Spring: Mild temperatures and blooming wildflowers make April and May popular months. Trails are less crowded, but occasional rain showers may affect hiking.

Summer: Expect scorching temperatures exceeding 100°F (38°C). Despite the heat, visitors explore early or late in the day. Crowds are high, so plan accordingly with water and sunscreen.

Fall: Considered the best time to visit, September and October bring cooler weather and fewer crowds. The changing foliage adds to the park’s beauty, and clear skies offer excellent stargazing.

Winter: Quietest and peaceful, winter offers mild daytime temperatures but cold nights. Snowfall is rare but can transform the landscape into a winter wonderland. Dress warmly for chilly evenings and enjoy unique photography opportunities.

>>> Click here to read why we think winter is the best time to visit Arches National Park

Delicate Arch at Sunrise

What if you only have a half day in Arches National Park?

With only a half day in Arches National Park, here is what we recommend doing:

  • Sunrise hike to Delicate Arch
  • Stop at Sand Dune Arch
  • Explore the Windows Trail
  • Photo op at Balanced Rock
  • Hike or photo op at Park Avenue

What are the best hikes in Arches National Park?

We included the very best hikes in Arches National Park in this blog post so you can do them all in one day! Here they are at a glance:

  • Delicate Arch
  • Sand Dune Arch
  • Tower Arch
  • Devils Garden
  • Windows
  • Double Arch
  • Balanced Rock
  • Park Avenue

For more information on each hike, plus more recommendations if you want to hike additional trails, check out our blog post on the best hikes in Arches National Park!

>>> Click here to see the 17 best hikes in Arches National Park!

How long does it take to drive the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park?

While the drive spans approximately 18 miles round trip, factors such as traffic, stops for viewpoints and short hikes, and road conditions can influence the overall driving time. On average, plan for about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete the route, allowing ample time for exploration and appreciation of the park’s natural wonders. Start your journey early to avoid crowds, plan your stops in advance, and remember to take your time to fully immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of Arches National Park.

Double Arch in Arches National park
Double Arch

What should I bring with me when I visit Arches National Park?

For a comprehensive check list of what to pack for your national park trip, check out our blog post! As a bonus, we’ll send a printable PDF straight to your inbox if you sign up for our mailing list below!

Sarah and Tim at Ooh Aah Point In grand canyon national park

Stuck in a packing quandary?

Check out our ultimate national park packing list!

Final Thoughts on How to Spend One Day in Arches National Park

In summary, one day in Arches National Park promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of natural splendor. With its iconic arches and captivating desert scenery, the park offers an abundance of awe-inspiring adventures.

By following this itinerary, you can maximize your time and ensure you don’t miss any of the park’s highlights. Whether it’s catching a stunning sunrise or marveling at the unique rock formations and arches, a single day in Arches National Park is sure to leave a lasting impression and a newfound admiration for the beauty of our planet.

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