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Exploring Arches National Park: A Family Adventure

In June 2023, our family embarked on an incredible journey to Arches National Park, and despite the scorching summer heat, it turned out to be a day filled with unforgettable memories. If you’re planning your own Arches adventure, take note of our top tip: start early! Here’s how our day unfolded, complete with tips for families with young children.

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1. Delicate Arch at Sunrise

We arrived at the Arches gate around 5 AM and wasted no time heading straight for the Delicate Arch Trailhead. By 6:15 AM, just after sunrise, we stood in awe of the magnificent Delicate Arch. We highly recommend this as a sunrise hike, not only for its breathtaking beauty but also to avoid the brutal midday sun. The Delicate Arch Trail is roughly 3.2 miles round trip with a 645-foot elevation gain, ranging from easy to moderate, depending on your fitness level and companions. If you’re an experienced hiker without a toddler in tow, it should be a breeze.

2. Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch

After our Delicate Arch adventure, we ventured deeper into the park to explore Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch. This trail offers a simple trek to two unique arches. The walk to Sand Dune Arch takes less than five minutes from the parking lot, while the longer hike to Broken Arch adds up to a pleasant 1.5-mile round trip with just 110 feet of elevation gain. It’s an easy hike suitable for families and less experienced hikers.

3. Devils Garden: A Kid’s Paradise

Our next stop was Devils Garden, where we embarked on a hike to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, which surprisingly became our son’s favorite. However, it wasn’t just the arches that stole the show; early on this trail, you’ll encounter a sand dune leading up into a cave. This feature was a hit among all the kids on the trail, including ours, who had a blast running up and down the sand dune. Parents will appreciate the shaded area and cool breeze here, making it a welcome respite. From this point, it’s a short hike to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, totaling less than one mile round trip with 85 feet of elevation gain (part of which may be attributed to the sand dune). Don’t miss this hike if you’re with kids! You can also extend the adventure by continuing on the trail for a total of about 8 miles round trip, offering views of six other arches.

4. Double Arch and The Windows

From Devils Garden, we headed to The Windows parking lot to explore Double Arch and The Windows. Double Arch is a quick out-and-back trail leading to two massive arches (as the name suggests). Many visitors took refuge in the shade of these arches, escaping the midday sun. Just across the parking lot, you can hike the Windows Loop trail to witness North and South Window Arches and Turret Arch. Both trails feature gentle inclines, with a combined distance of approximately 1.6 miles and 216 feet of elevation gain. This section of Arches is another family-friendly area worth exploring.

5. Scenic Lookouts and Visitor Center

As our day at Arches came to a close, we made several stops at scenic lookouts, including Courthouse Towers (providing a view of the Three Gossips) and Park Avenue. For the ambitious and time-rich, there’s a 2-mile round trip hike between these two viewpoints, although it’s exposed to the sun and involves a significant incline. Our final stop of the day was the Visitor Center, where we purchased our son a Passport Book (Arches was his first national park) and added another magnet to Ashlea’s rapidly growing collection. Don’t forget to snap a photo in front of the iconic Arches sign.

Is One Day Enough at Arches National Park?

We believe one day is sufficient, especially for families and those with mobility constraints. However, if you’re eager to tackle longer hikes, Arches National Park has more to offer, potentially extending your visit to two or three days.

Bug Rating: Low – we didn’t encounter many bugs at Arches.

Photography Recommendation: Our photography gear of choice includes the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 and Nikon 85mm f/1.4G lenses.

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