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7 Best Things to do in Arches National Park For First Timers

There are 7 ideal things to do in Arches National Park if your first visit and in this article you’ll find out exactly what they are and where to go to make sure you have an awesome trip here.

I’ve visited Arches National Park twice so far, but due to the road trips I was on with time restrictions and schedules to keep, I could only spend one day each time in this park and so I had to make the most of it by planning ahead.

And so before going, I had a itinerary set up to help me get the most out of my visits to this park and the thing is, if you start early, don’t wait too long in each spot and keep working your way through the list, you’ll have a good chance of finishing it.

How long does it take to see Arches National Park?

Obviously the pace I have when I explore places is different than others and while the 7 things to do in Arches National Park that are on this list can be covered in one day, you may find that sometimes you’ll only be able to cover 3 or 4 areas and have to skip others. Again, the earlier you start in Arches, the more time you’ll have to cover these areas and at the same time:

  • Don’t let this list rush you. If it takes you longer to and do the things on this itinerary, that’s OK.
  • Go at your own pace and if you have more days to explore this park, do it that way too (2-3 days in Arches is probably the longest time you need there).

Here’s my Arches National Park itinerary (the 7 best things to do):

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  1. Do the scenic drive and check out La Sal Viewpoint.
  2. Take at least 30 minutes to see Garden of Eden after.
  3. Visit and hike to Double Arch.
  4. Explore 3 arches after: Turret, South and North (close by).
  5. Drive and hike up to Delicate Arch.
  6. Explore Devils Garden after.
  7. Finish up by doing the Park Avenue Trail (near the entrance).

This itinerary is meant to be explored in order, from the moment you enter the park all the way to going back to the same entrance to finish and it should be around sunset meaning the last hike you do on this list (Park Avenue Trail) should offer some incredible views of the park around sunset.

Here’s a map of Arches National Park with that itinerary listed:

arches national park itinerary 01

And now for the details of every spot on that list and you’ll start at the bottom of that map (very close to the entrance).

1) Start your trip at Arches National Park Utah with La Sal viewpoint:

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Once you enter Arches National Park, you’ll do a beautiful zigzag drive up the road and shortly after, it’ll turn to reveal the amazing sight above (one of the best overlooks in Utah I’ve ever seen).

Fortunately, there is also a stop right by this area and it’s called La Sal Viewpoint. This is the first stop I recommend you make on your one day in Arches National Park. The whole landscape of Arches is truly unique and in this case, there are trail hikes available nearby La Sal Viewpoint, something that will be the last thing on this list later when you come back this way (but we’ll get to that later).

The canyon you see deep into the picture to the right also has amazing scenery and I will be sharing a scenic drive we did through that place in this article as well. Either way, this particular viewpoint was prepping us for what was to come in Arches National Park, and it would only get better.

2) Garden of Eden (next stop):

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Shortly after stopping at La Sal Viewpoint, you’ll continue along the same scenic drive deeper into Arches and I will strongly recommend you take your time with that drive and that’s because in my opinion the best views of the park (by car) are closer to the entrance of it.

But about 5-10 minutes after La Sal viewpoint, you’ll come across pillars of rocks and a stop nearby and that area is known as Garden of Eden. This is the second stop I recommend you make. Not only are there beautiful short hikes in this area, but you can see these amazing rock formations and get some great photos. In the distance you will also see more beautiful views of the park. Garden of Eden is really scenic and the stop here shouldn’t take you long to enjoy. I personally spent about 20 minutes here before continuing further into the park and this is where the itinerary gets very exciting.

3) Do the Double Arch hike:

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To my knowledge, the Double Arch might be one of the top 3 most popular arches in this entire national park (there are 1,000s of Arches there). The reason why is that if you look at Instagram posts of this park, you’ll likely find this one posted most often. Naturally, when I came to Arches, this was the one I was hoping to see most, and I got my wish, because it was very close to Garden of Eden (maybe 10 minutes from it by car).

And the awesome thing is you can actually hike to it as there is a large cul de sac parking. When I did this, I was fortunate because hardly anyone was hiking here at the time and it was a truly awesome short hike. And out of all the arches that I’ve in this park, Double Arch is my favorite. Here’s another bit of great news: The next thing to do on this list is literally a few 100 feet away (and it’s a 3 arch hike).

4) Explore the Turret, North and South Window Arches (one hike):

things to do in arches national park turret and windows arches hike

Once you check out the Double Arch, the next 3 are literally nearby, a few 100 yards away from the same parking lot that leads you to the Double Arch. So if you’re already there (the Double Arch that is), walking to these next 3 places will only take you about 10 minutes. Here’s how I recommend it (from good to best):

  1. First I recommend exploring the Turret Arch.
  2. Next I recommend exploring the South Arch.
  3. Finish by hiking through North Window Arch to get back to the parking lot.

You can do some scrambling and climbing into these arches but I would be careful as the terrain is very uneven and you may get dizzy. For us though, this was a very fun experience. This section of the park took us a little over an hour, but because we didn’t make long stops, it was easy to cover all of this in such a short time.

5) Hike to Delicate Arch after:

how long does it take to hike to delicate arch 01

Delicate Arch is probably the most famous one in Arches National Park (I saw a lot of postcards showcasing it) and it’s one that has 2 ways of exploring it:

  • First you can drive up to the parking lot and see it in the distance.
  • Second, you can actually hike up to Delicate Arch. How long does does it take? Usually 2-3 hours in and out.

I also have to let you know that there are usually large crowds in line to take pictures by Delicate Arch so if you’re intending on seeing it, expect to wait in line or get there early to have a better chance of not having to wait so long. The Delicate Arch hike (second option that is) may be the longest and most popular hiking trail you do in your one day trip at Arches, but it’s worth it because this arch is very beautiful and so are the views behind it. If you do see that the parking lot is full and the lines are long before you even start the hike, I’d recommend skipping this part, doing the next thing on this list, and coming back to it later though.

6) Explore Devils Garden and the hiking trails there (at least 7 arches):

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Devils Garden is located on the north most end of Arches National Park and it is the best places to see the most arches in the park packed together. In fact, the Devils Garden Trail will take you through them. I’ve included a map

In addition, this is also one of best hikes in Utah that I have personally done (but not fully yet). The Devils Garden loop trail is a few miles long, but is quite scenic to explore and the actual trail area is very flat for the most part, so it’s an easy hike to do for most people.

Besides the loop trail, you’ll also find a few alternative ways to cross it in parallels, which includes going in between the kinds of mountains you see to the right. The sand in this region is a combination of pink and red, and it’s extremely smooth too, something I really enjoyed holding in my hands. What I absolutely also loved about this national park is how much hiking you can actually do there without limit, and certainly, some hikes at Devils Garden should be carefully done and of course, respect the land!

7) Park Avenue Trail:

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The last itinerary on the list of things to do in Arches National Park might be one of the best none arch hikes you in the park. It’s only about 2 miles long in and out and it’s very close to La Sal Viewpoint (the Park Avenue Trailhead).

Park Avenue Trail will take you through what I consider the best parts of the scenic drive in Arches but more deep into the mountain areas there and you’ll be able to get truly amazing views, especially during sunset time. It’s a very easy hike to do with an amazing scenic payoff I highly recommend you take some time to check out before you finish your one day at Arches National Park! But the truth is that you don’t need to do this hike around sunset to enjoy these amazing views. The point is just do this hike because it’s truly amazing.

Don’t forget to enjoy the Arches National Park scenic drive when coming back:

In addition to the 7 things you will do above, one thing that cannot be stressed enough is how amazing the scenic drive through this park is, especially in the beginning parts of it. There are numerous iconic spots along that drive you can see and stop at and I recommend you do anytime you have the chance. 

More parks to see in Utah (even in one day):

Other commonly asked questions (and answers) about Arches National Park:

How many days (how long or tour) should you spend in Arches National Park?

Typically 2-3 days is enough to see most of the park.

Is a one day trip to Arches National Park enough?

Obviously you won’t be able to see all of Arches National Park in one day, but if you start early and explore the most famous spots, you can truly get a lot out of this place in a short time.

How many arches are in Arches National Park?

From what I know, there are several 1,000 arches to explore.

What is the best month to visit Arches National Park?

If you visit Arches National Park from November through February, you will likely see less people and have better weather to explore it.

Can you just drive around Arches National Park?

Yes, there is a main scenic drive in Arches National Park and it takes about 1 hour to do.

If you have anymore questions about Arches, let me know!

Update: I created a new post on Arches National Park photos as well as a list of famous arches in Utah. You can check them out and see what other amazing arches exist, and outside of Arches National Park in this case!

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  1. Gorgeous hike! Your trip there really inspires me to visit Arches National Park someday!  I would probably take 2 to 3 days though because I like to take my time but it is cool that you can see so much in just one day! It is such a beautiful site and your pictures really show it. The Turret arch looks like Africa. Many thanks for sharing your adventure.


  2. I would really like seeing the Garden of Eden because I am a Christian and it appeals to me. The Devils Garden, sounds also interesting. There are certainly a lot of nice scenery to explore. I would like to know if the hiking is easy because I have trouble walking so it may not be for me.  I like the Arches National Park scenic drive because there is no walking involved. 


    1. Hi Ingrid, the beauty of this park is that it is suited for people of all levels so in your case, there are many things to see and do that don’t involve serious hiking. You can just sightsee, including the places you listed, so here are my specific recommendations:

      Just the drive alone on the main road is amazing.

      Sight seeing Double Arch and the Window Arches is amazing (you can view them from a distance).

      You can hike a little bit in Devils Garden (the early parts of it are very flat and easy to walk on).

      Garden of Eden is also very small and accessible to all levels.

  3. Oh, Arches National Park is definitely worth visiting at least once!  I used to live in St. George Utah which I am sure you know is fairly close to several wonderful National Parks. Amazingly beautiful. I miss the desert scenery and the sunsets/sunrises over this beautiful landscape.  Hiking this area is really just awe inspiring!

  4. We plan to visit Arches the week of March 21st 2022 and will then travel down to grand canyon (stopping at Canyonlands and other scenic spots along the way). Is North rim of Grand Canyon CLOSED the end of March so we are only able to visit South Rim during this week? We want to continue on to Zion and Bryce after visiting Grand Canyon. Any road trip travel advise would be great. We are a family of 5 hikers who like to fill our days with activities. We have 1 week to take in as many adventures as possible. thank you!

    1. Hi Lisa, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is currently closed until mid May, but the South Rim is open. What I would recommend doing for your road trip is this:

      Day 1: Arches.
      Day 2: Canyonlands.
      Day 3: Capital Reef.
      Day 4: Bryce.
      Day 5: Zion.
      Day 6: South rim.
      Day 7: Sedona (AZ).

      This is a bit of trip all around, but if you’re headed into the Grand Canyon from Arches in 7 days, you may be able to do all of this.

  5. We are going October 10th to Arches. So I have read several places that you have to arrive before 8am to get into the park. Is that true? And does the scenic drive require you to get in line early to pay to start the scenic drive?

    1. So it’s all seasonal and if you arrive at peak time at Arches (usually summer-fall), you may have a long line of people. So arriving early would help you avoid the crowds. In my case (both times), I arrived there in early February and mid September and both times, it was fine for me. You can do the scenic drive in your car anytime you want in Arches, I just think that tip you read was in regards to avoid long crowds and traffic since there are only 1 lane roads in this park.

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