Arches is our favorite National Park in Utah. We especially love it because there are a lot of fun easy hikes for kids, and each one has at least one great reward. Below is a summary and list of must-do hikes in the park, with a picture of most of the arches:
The first trail you come to is Balanced Rock. This one is a quarter mile loop around the Balanced Rock, which is one of the most iconic formations in the park. The trail is easy and paved, but doesn’t give you much but a short walk and some different angles for pictures.
Turn right and head out to the windows section. The trail is easy and leads to 3 beautiful arches: North and South Windows, and Turret Arch. Our 18 month old insisted on walking the entire way, which is only about 1 mile.
One of our favorites is the unique Double Arch. It is located right next to the Windows, and is a short out and back (.5 RT). You can climb right up under this massive arch, which is one of the largest in the park.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
You can see Delicate Arch fairly well from the viewpoint, and anyone can walk the hundred or so yards it takes to get there. You really should hike the real thing, though!
This hike is fairly long (3 Miles RT) and slightly steep. It climbs up the slick rock and then winds its way over to Delicate Arch. The destination is unique in the entire world. You’ll need to find a way to do this hike if at all possible. Take lots of water, and go slow. Also, hike in the morning or evening when it will be the cooler parts of the day.
Sand Dune Arch
This is our boys favorite arch. It is small, and the hike is short (0.4 miles RT), but there is a thick layer of beach-fine sand underneath the arch. Take shovels and pails and plan to stay for awhile. Your kids will have more fun at Sand Dune Arch than anywhere in the park.
The hike to Broken Arch is flat and easy, and the arch can be seen from Sand Dune Arch trail. This arch is impressive when you get up close, and you can continue the trail right under Broken Arch over to Tapestry Arch. Out and back to Broken Arch is 2.0 miles roundtrip.
We love to hike to the base of Skyline Arch because there is a narrow slot in front of it. Our boys like to play around in the shady “slot canyons” back there, and it’s only about 0.5 miles round trip.
Tapestry Arch trail begins in the campground and is only 0.7 miles round trip. We didn’t see one other person on this trail, and you can walk on the slick rock right out to the arch. The trail is flat and easy. If you want to continue on to Broken Arch, you can do so, but it is 0.7 miles from Tapestry Arch to Broken Arch which adds quite a bit of distance to the hike.
The Devil’s Garden is a long trail system, but you decide how far out you’d like to go. I’ll give the distance to each feature, and you’ll have to double it, because you’ll be walking back. There are many amazing arches along the trail, and it is a must-do for any visitor. It’s just a matter of how much gas you’ve got in the tank. Here are the one-way distances to each arch along the trail (double it to get back to the trailhead!)
Tunnel Arch: .4 Miles
Pine Tree Arch: .5 Miles
Landscape Arch: .8 Miles
Partition Arch: 1 Mile
Navajo Arch: 1.2 Miles
Double O Arch: 2.5 Miles
We usually turn around when we arrive at Landscape Arch, which is one of the most unique in the park. Also, remember, the trail branches, so if you go to Pine Tree and Tunnel, and then continue out to Landscape, it is about 1.3 miles, rather than just .8 to see all three arches. This is the route that we usually take with our kids.
One of the most interesting hikes in the park is a ranger-led hike called the Fiery Furnace. We couldn’t do this hike this time around because kids must be at least 5 years old. There is also a small fee for this hike, but it was well worth a couple of bucks to hike it. The hike is 2 miles, but it takes 2-3 hours for the guided hike.