Arches National Park preserves over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. This area contains the largest concentration of arches found any where in the world, including the world-famous Delicate Arch as seen on the Utah state license plate, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations. In some areas, faulting has exposed millions of years of geologic history.The extraordinary features of the park, including balanced rocks, fins and pinnacles, are highlighted by a striking environment of contrasting colors, landforms and textures.
Stay on the path: Throughout the park and the Southwestern national parks, you will see warnings about cryptobiological soil. Footprints erode the soil and destroy years of growth.
Leave your dog at home: As the climate indicates, there is extreme heat in the summers. Perhaps more importantly, the environment is not supportive of domesticated pets. There are reasons that there are still 1000-year-old corn cobs in archeological sites: items do not deteriorate like they might in your backyard. Cactus and Fido do not make for good bedfellows.
Leave only your footprints, take only photographs: Do not take rocks or any other type of souvenir from the park. Allow your grandchildren's grandchildren to see the park as you see it when you visit it. Throughout the Southwest, you will walk right next to archeological sites. These are rapidly disappearing as people take just one little thing back home.
Park entrance fees are $10 for private vehicles and $5 for individuals on foot, bike, or motorcycle. These fees allow entrance for seven days. Alternatively, the $80 Multi-Agency pass allows entry pass, amongst others, to all national park areas for one year. It also allows entrance to parks of other agencies. The $50 National Park Pass, which allowed entry to all national park areas for one year was discontinued by the national parks service in 2007. If the entrance booth is not manned, there is an electronic kiosk to pay the entrance fee and receive a receipt to place on your vehicle's dashboard.
Park Avenue. A relatively easy one mile (one-way) trail located near the park entrance. The trail leads through a steep-walled sandstone canyon with a smooth bottom. Many hikers will get dropped off at one end of the trail and picked up at the other to eliminate the need for a round-trip.
* Double Arch. A 0.8 mile roundtrip leads to Double Arch, a massive joining of two arches that will be recognizable from the beginning of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The trail is very easy and located within walking distance of the Windows.
* Windows. The North & South Windows, as well as Turret Arch, are located along an easy 1.0 mile roundtrip trail. The Windows is also a popular destination to watch and photograph at sunrise.
* Wolfe Ranch. Located near the beginning of the Delicate Arch trail, this ranch is a restored homestead of John Wesley Wolfe, who settled in the area in the late 1800s.
* Delicate Arch. The most famous arch in the park (and perhaps in the world), Delicate Arch can be seen from a roadside turnout, from a short 0.8 mile trail, or you can take the 3.0 mile (roundtrip) trail starting from Wolfe's Ranch, gaining 480 feet of elevation, and stand underneath this natural wonder. The trail to the arch is strenuous; be sure to carry adequate water with you. Note that during peak season you are likely to be sharing the trail with many people; visiting at sunrise provides the best chance of solitude, while sunset offers the best photography.
* Petrified Dunes. An overlook of the petrified dunes lies just off of the park road between the Courthouse Towers and the Windows Area. These colorful formations are ancient sand dunes, hardened into stone as additional layers built up on top of them and were later eroded away.
* Fiery Furnace. The Fiery Furnace area is accessible only on ranger-led tours, which can be reserved at the visitor center. The tour leads through a maze of sandstone fins, showcasing one of the most interesting geologic areas in the park. A fee is charged for this tour and tours often sell out quickly, so trips should be booked as early as possible. Reservations can be made up to a week in advance at the visitor's center, or for the full season at the park's website.
* Devil's Garden Trail. Devil's Garden is a series of sandstone fissures that are home to Landscape Arch (the park's largest), Double O Arch, and numerous others. A series of trails lead to the arches, with Landscape Arch only a 1.6 mile roundtrip from the trailhead, while Double O Arch is a more strenuous 4.2 mile roundtrip. Sadly, Wall Arch, once one of the most photographed arches in the park, is no more, having collapsed in August 2008.
* Klondike Bluffs. Visited by only a very small fraction of the park's tourists, Klondike Bluffs is in the northwest corner of the park and is accessible only by a dirt road or on foot. Tower Arch is located down a short trail, as is the formation known as the Marching Men.
Hiking. The park offers numerous short trails (see above) ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate.
* Photography. The park is a photographer's paradise with reddish brown rocks, distant snow-covered mountains, and fantastic rock formations. As with most places, light can be harsh during the day, so it is best to have the camera ready during the early morning hours and late evening hours. Delicate Arch and the Windows are best photographed at sunset, while the light on Landscape Arch and Double Arch is best near sunrise. Hike to Delicate Arch. The entire arch glows blood red at sunset with the mountains framed within Delicate Arch if you are lucky. The mountains will glow if you wait long enough. In addition, the Windows area is excellent for sunrise photos. Just get to the side where you can see Turret Arch framed by North Window. There is a ledge where you can take your photo although it requires some scrambling over fallen rocks. Those looking for a photograph of Double Arch should be aware that light at sunrise is minimal, although things improve as the sun rises further. Double O Arch is best in the late afternoon if hike through the arch and photograph from the photographers ledge.
* Rock climbing. Climbing is not allowed on most features named on USGS maps, but is allowed on other formations.
* Backpacking. Limited water supplies and a lack of true backcountry trails limit the appeal of backpacking in the park, although backcountry use is allowed. Inquire at the visitor center for details.
* Wildlife Viewing. Almost 50 species of mammal are known to live in Arches. Some, like desert cottontails, kangaroo rats and mule deer, are common and may be seen by a majority of visitors. However, many desert animals are inactive during daylight hours or are wary of humans, so sightings can be truly special events. Tracks and scat are the most common signs of an animal’s presence. [http://goarches.com/arches_wildlife.html]
There is a cooperating association sales outlet in the visitor center that offers books, maps, postcards, posters, and a variety of other educational and interpretive items. For a larger selection, the town of Moab has everything necessary to satisfy your shopping needs.
There is no food available within the park. There is a water fountain at the parking area near the Devil's Garden Trailhead. The nearby town of Moab offers a vast number of restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores.
Summer temperatures can reach or exceed 110°F (43°C), so it is important to carry (and consume) enough liquid to keep you hydrated. One gallon of water per person per day is recommended. When hiking on open rocky areas, be aware that lightning is a danger during storms. Also, the dry sandstone-dominated terrain is susceptible to flash floods during thunderstorms. The most intense thunderstorms occur from July through September, during monsoon season.
Many of the formations within the park are sandstone and can easily crumble when climbing. Numerous individuals must be rescued each year after they scale a formation and then discover that they cannot easily get back down; know your limitations, and be aware that it is usually easier to climb up a formation than it is to climb back down.
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