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The Best Hikes in Arches National Park

Trek to Courthouse Wash in Arches National Park to see ancient rock paintings left by the earliest inhabitants of the area
Trek to Courthouse Wash in Arches National Park to see ancient rock paintings left by the earliest inhabitants of the area | © Ray Mathis / Alamy
Photo of Elizabeth Miller
2 September 2021
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Just north of Moab, Utah, you’ll find the red canyonland of Arches National Park, dotted with more than 2,000 natural stone arches. Go easy or take a hard hike to see these time-hewn wonders in the flesh.

Desert vistas, unusual rock formations and, of course, arches make Arches National Park one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States – and you can now visit with Culture Trip by joining our action-packed small-group Colorado and Utah tour, led by our local insider. The snow-capped mountains of Colorado make an astonishing backdrop to this fiery landscape. One of the best ways to explore the park is on foot. We’ve collected the best hikes in Arches National Park, passing sandstone fins and rocky skyscrapers. Go to Visit Utah for more details on each hike.

Easy

Delicate Arch

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, United States of America,
© Visions from Earth / Alamy

Locals have called this arch Cowboy’s Chaps and Old Maid’s Bloomers, but the current name stuck after the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition in 1934 described it as “the most delicately chiselled arch in the area.” It now ranks among the more recognizable geological features in the world, and is the largest free-standing arch in the park. From Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, walk 100yd (91m) to see it in the distance, or head to the Upper Viewpoint for an 880yd (805m) hike to a better view. Alternatively, trek a shadeless 3mi (5km) that finishes with a tight squeeze along a narrow rock ledge to reach the arch itself.

Landscape Arch at Devils Garden

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Arch Landscape Arch, Devils Garden, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, USA
© Mara Brandl / imageBROKER / Alamy

Follow a flat, gravel trail through sandstone fins for about 1mi (1.6km) and the sky fills with a view of one of the longest spans of stone in the world. Landscape Arch stretches 306ft (93m) between two bands of sandstone, tapering to just 11ft (3m) at the centre, shaped by the wind and rain. The Devils Garden area also includes side trails to Tunnel and Pine Tree arches.

Broken Arch Loop

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Broken Arch in Arches National Park, Utah; USA;
© Vaclav Mach / Alamy

This 2mi (3km) loop trail crosses a large meadow, traverses slickrock and climbs over dunes — and passes right through the arch itself. Expect some scrambling and to follow rock cairns over the terrain. The trail passes through the Devils Garden Campground, so it’s poised to provide an adventure right out of your base camp.

The Windows

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Utah, Arches National Park, visitors on Windows Trail, Turret Arch. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.
© Stephen Saks Photography / Alamy

Loop around a string of arches in the Windows Section, considered one of the crown jewels of the park. A gravel pathway turns to stone steps that lead up to the North Window, which is then followed by the South Window and Turret Arch. Return the way you came for a 1mi (1.6km) out-and-back. Alternatively, loop around to the backside of the arches on a primitive trail to see the nose-like shape that has prompted these arches to also be dubbed the Spectacles.

Park Avenue to Courthouse Towers

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View
Courthouse Tower, Arches National Park, Utah USA_2C79YM9
© JG Photography / Alamy

Just like a stroll through downtown Manhattan, the Arches iteration of Park Avenue will also have you staring skyward, marvelling at all that looms overhead. This trail descends into a canyon cutting through these desert skyscrapers and continues down the wash to Courthouse Towers. The trail connects at either end to the main road, so you can trek out and then back (2mi/3km in total), or set up a car shuttle to hike it one-way.

Moderate

Courthouse Wash (Rock Art)

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Petroglyphs, Courthouse Wash Rock Art, Moab Canyon, Moab, Arches National Park, Colorado Plateau, Utah, Grand County, Usa, America_P878M7
© JUAN CARLOS MUÑOZ / Alamy

The tapered figures and white, shield-like circles on the wall at Courthouse Wash were painted by a series of the first inhabitants in the area. The trail starts just north of the bridge on the Arches Entrance Road. It’s a 5.5mi (9km) hike to the Courthouse Wash – either walk the same distance back or arrange for a shuttle to collect you.

Primitive Trail at Devils Garden

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
Devil's Garden with sandstone cliffs formed by erosion, Arches-Nationalpark, near Moab, Utah_EARF12
© Michael Rucker / imageBROKER / Alamy

The Devils Garden is a playground of red sandstone fins and pillars, carved by rain and snow. The sand here was once the sea floor, 300m years ago. After a well-groomed start near Landscape Arch, the Primitive Trail takes off to the south, with the option to loop back for 7mi (11km) and chances to spot eight arches. Feeling adventurous? The route has opportunities for scrambling over rocks, hiking near steep drop-offs, crossing a basin that may fill with water, plodding through stretches of deep sand, and following a trail marked only by a string of rock cairns.

Double O Arch at Devils Garden

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View
United States Utah Colorado Plateau Arches National Park Devil's Garden section hikers at Double O Arch
© DUCEPT Pascal / hemis.fr / Alamy

Past Landscape Arch, the unmissable span of stone, this 4mi (7km) trail starts climbing over sandstone slabs and venturing further into the backcountry. Steep slopes on a surface that’s called slickrock for good reason takes you out to Double O Arch. A side trail makes for a short detour to Partition Arch and Navajo Arch that adds nearly 1mi (1.6km). Loop back on the Primitive Trail or stay to the main trail for an out-and-back.

Hard

Fiery Furnace

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
The red rock fins of Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park in Utah, with the La Sal Mountains in the background.
© Colin D. Young / Alamy

Despite the name, inside the Fiery Furnace, the canyons are so narrow that sun rarely reaches their bottoms and temperatures stay cool even on warm days. Traveling through the 2.3mi (3.7km) long Fiery Furnace means negotiating a maze of small canyons, squeezing through tight spaces, jumping across gaps and braving drop-offs. You’ll move down the trail in parts by bracing yourself against sandstone walls with your hands and feet as you inch forward. Navigating this labyrinth of sandstone slots without getting lost or damaging the sensitive ecosystem is best achieved on a ranger-guided hike.

Tower Arch

Natural Feature, Hiking Trail
Map View
USA, Utah, Grand County, Arches National Park, Klondike Bluffs. A view of sandstone hoodoos and rock fins along Tower Arch hiking trail.
© Dominic Gentilcore / Alamy

Reaching Tower Arch, one of the most remote arches in the park, doesn’t demand a long hike, but it will be a challenging one. The trail climbs steeply up a bluff, cuts across a valley with the red Klondike Bluffs lining the horizon, then slices through sandstone and dunes with a surprisingly tough sandy stretch near the finish. The trail takes you right under Tower Arch, which sits in a cluster of sandstone spires and takes in views south to the La Sal Mountains. Afterward, retrace your steps back to the start, making it a 2.4mi (3.8km) round trip.

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