On our family trip to Arches National Park we spent the first day exploring, mouth agape, stopping and starting and staring at all the amazing sculptures our Earth has created. While there is a lot to see from the car, Arches is best experienced on foot. You’ll miss a lot of the more striking views and formations if you simply stay in your car, but with little ones it’s not realistic to assume you’ll be able to do everything unless you stay more than a full week.
The highlights of our family trip to Arches include Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers, Balanced Rock, and ending the day with a hike in Devil’s Garden to Landscape Arch.
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This is the first hike your family will come upon after entering the park. You can’t miss the entrance – it has a giant cliff whose front appears to be cut in half with a perfectly sanded stage left remaining. What you’ll view on this hike is the monolithic towering cliffs that jut up in every angle and from every vantage point. Park Avenue is aptly named for the cliffs that resemble skyscrapers.
From Park Avenue you can hike to Courthouse Towers which is a two mile roundtrip hike, or if you prefer to drive, you can get a beautiful view of each of these places from the Courthouse Towers turnoff. On your family trip to Arches, this hike is one of the most popular.
A lot of Arches National Park just looks like plain desert. Though there are more than 2,000 arches located within the park boundaries, many aren’t visible unless you go on some of the more strenuous hikes. While I get the amazing circumstances that turned these once sand dunes into rocks, it is a bit underwhelming to see in person. On your hike to Delicate Arch, you’ll traverse huge petrified dunes, which is a lot more interesting than the view you get from here.
This is exactly what it sounds like. A large oval shaped rock balanced precariously atop a large pillar. It’s much too large to fit in this space, yet it remains, bewildering everyone who sees it. There is a short hike at this location, but the bread and butter of this view is specifically the balanced rock. You won’t need to look for any signs to indicate you’ve arrived. You’ll spot this oddity on your family trip to Arches long before you see the crowds.
Devil’s Garden to Landscape Arch
This two mile round trip hike gives you an opportunity to see many arches, including one of the most famous: Landscape Arch. The trail starts in Devil’s Garden the entrance to the path marked by two giant rock walls sliced in half. On this easy hike you’ll see lizards and other desert wildlife, views that stretch to the horizon, twin trees, and of course, 7 natural arches. The paved path ends at Landscape Arch. The longest arch in the park spanning 300 feet across, which just nine years ago lost a huge chunk of it’s bottom layer. It remains intact, but 73 feet smaller in girth than it once was. You can continue the hike from this point, through the sandy ground and even climb underneath the famous arch.
► For Kids: A family trip to Arches is a great adventure for kids of all ages. Most of these hikes are easy to navigate and offer a fun learning opportunity for kids to see both geology and geography at play, and history too.
Discover Moab offers a complete list of hikes available at Arches National Park. Which one is your favorite?
► Nap-Time Version: A guide for your first day visiting Arches National Park including the most famous and well traveled spots you don’t want to miss.