Arches National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the United States. It is also the most popular (some would also argue most beautiful) one in Utah. So popular that the Delicate Arch is on the official license plate for the state of Utah. So busy that finding parking during the busy season is close to impossible. Our visit was during the month of April. The weather was perfect for hiking and sightseeing. Never before we have witnessed arches created by nature in such a fashion and we were amazed by their sheer size and beauty. It is hard to describe them since words or pictures hardly do justice in cases like these. You just have to witness this absolutely unique place. One of the most beautiful national parks we have ever visited in the USA.
We stayed in Moab. We have heard of the city before but never in our lives, we thought it would be such a colorful and busy “base” for offroad enthusiasts and adventure seekers. An amazing little town with tons of things to do and see. It is also so conveniently located near the Arches National Park that you can walk to it from Moab. Food-wise we Yelped as usual and loved the Trailhead Public House & Eatery (their wings were to die for), Antica Forma Pizza, and the Indo Grill Indian Cuisine. Those were the places where we really liked the food and the wait times were not in hours but minutes.
Things to See
It is also not just the arches that make the park unique. There are tons of other rock formations that just seem impossible to be formed or created without some sort of intelligent design or human interference. Here are some of the most famous attractions that we thought are must-see:
The most iconic arch in the park. Its location and access are tricky since you do have to hike for few hours to get to it. The total trail length round trip is 3.2 miles from the parking lot. It is moderate difficulty. There are also few places where you have to be careful in terms of walking and not be afraid of heights. Once there you need to be careful as well since as you can see from the photos there are areas where it is not super safe to run and jump. You can find more details about the trail here.
This one is interesting because of its double-arch formation. Getting to it is very easy just a few minutes walking from the parking lot. That also contributes to the number of people you would see there and the need to remove them from your photos in post-production. It was also interesting to know that the Double Arch was used as a backdrop for portions of the 1988 movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
North Window & South Window Arches
North Window & South Window, or the Spectacles, as some people call them, are the first major arches you see upon entering the Park. Though they are easy to view from a distance, these arches are much more impressive if you take a short walk to stand inside them. Both are easily accessible from the parking lot via a short hike. You can actually see the Turret Arch from the North Window Arch.
Just around the South Window Arch is the North Window Arch. If you climb close enough you can see through it the Turret Arch as well. All three are in close proximity accessible from the same parking lot. Not much hiking required to see them at all.
This one is quite interesting in terms of the rock formation right next to it. It is visible through the North Window Arch and photographed from there quite a lot. It is also very busy since it is easily accessible and kids love climbing it. Ours did so as well 🙂
Toward the back of the park, in the Devil’s Garden area, you can find the Landscape Arch. With a span of 306 feet, it is the longest arch in the United States and 4th longest in the world. It is mindblowing how something like this can form through the years. Nature and time are amazing architects!
The total height of Balanced Rock is 128 feet (39 m), with the balancing rock rising 55 feet (16.75 m) above the base. This rock is the largest of its kind in the park, weighing approximately the same as an icebreaker ship or 27 blue whales.
Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, and Courthouse Towers
Just on the side of the main road, there is a stop with a great overview of some of the other park attractions. The three Gossips is quite interesting since it is a rock formation that literally looks like three people very close to each other “gossiping”. The Sheep Rock and the Courthouse Towers are also part of this landscape. Definitely worth the stop.
Arches National Park is a must-see for any explorer and nature lover. There are not many places on planet Earth where you can witness arches like these. There are not many places where you can get so close to them and take a photo. Amazing park and very much worth its popularity and ranking as one of the best parks in the United States. We absolutely recommend it!