Hikes National Parks/Monuments

One Day Itinerary in Arches National Park

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2020)

Arches is one of our favorite spots in Utah. We love exploring this National Park, and it is perfect for families. The arches are so rewarding for kids, so they are happy to hike along the trails. Most of the trails are very family-friendly, too.

Today we are sharing a one day itinerary in Arches National Park. Of course, in order to squeeze the most out of the day, you’ll want to arrive in Moab the day before and find lodging, because to get it all in, you’ll need to start early. If your children are good car travelers, you can consider driving to Moab early in the morning and then home late at night. It’s a 3 hour drive from Lehi where we live.

We traveled in winter when there were shorter days, so we went down late Sunday night. Then we spent all day Monday exploring. We left our hotel at 7:30 in the morning. The park is open 24 hours a day, so you can get an even earlier start if you like. Luckily, Moab isn’t very large, so wherever you stay you are only 5-15 minutes from the park entrance. Since we were traveling in winter, our days were shorter. It was just getting light as we drove into Arches National Park.

Balanced Rock

Our first stop was Balanced Rock. We hopped out and walked around this interesting rock feature. The sun was in the worst spot, so we don’t have a lot of great pictures, but this is an easy, family-friendly stop that only takes a few minutes. Plan just 15 minutes at Balanced Rock.

Balanced Rock is a quick, but fun stop.
Windows Trail

Next we headed to the Windows trail. This hike includes Turret Arch, as well as both North and South Window Arches. It is flat, easy, and only 1.0 mile. We love that you can see so many Arches on one little hike. We spent around an hour an a half with these arches, and that includes Double Arch. across the street

These are the two windows (north and south).
We always walk over to Turret Arch, too.
Double Arch

Right across the parking lot is Double Arch, which appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This is definitely a highlight. It’s only a 1/2 mile RT hike to this amazing arch, which is actually two connected arches. The trail leads right into the arch, so it is a must stop. If you’d like to save time, you can easily see it from the parking area, though the views aren’t as nice.

Double Arch is one of our favorites.
Delicate Arch

After finishing these three short hikes, head over to Delicate Arch. We arrived at the parking area around 9:30. We like to do this hike early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the heat, not that it mattered too much since it was January. This trail is a little tougher since it climbs straight up the slick rock for the first 1/3 of the hike. There are also some tougher places to traverse with drop offs, so make sure your children stay close and are ready for this moderate 3.0 mile hike.

This was the scary part of the hike to Delicate Arch. It never melts because of where it is, so check conditions before starting this hike in winter.
Delicate Arch is one of Utah’s iconic places.

It is worth the climb because Delicate Arch is a Utah icon. There are tons of great photo ops and it is a hike to check off your bucket list. However, Delicate Arch might be too much for your family. If this is the case, we recommend driving out to Devil’s Garden at the end of the Arches Road. From there you can hike to a bunch of arches, but Landscape Arch is 1.6 miles RT and the trail is flat. You can also add Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, which are on side trails, but they add 1/2 mile to the total distance.

Landscape Arch is skinny and long. It is a great alternative to Delicate Arch.
Lunch Time

Following your big hike to Delicate Arch or Landscape Arch, it’s time for a picnic lunch in the car. Sometimes you can find a picnic table, but they’re in high demand, and there are only a few. There are no restaurants in Arches National Park, so you may choose to leave and come back. We recommend the Moab Diner. We like that they serve breakfast all day, but all of their food is delicious. Since it saves time and money, we usually opt for the picnic.

The picnic areas were covered in snow, so we pulled over in a pullout and ate in our car. The view was beautiful, though.
We did end up having a snowball fight after we ate, too!
Tapestry Arch & Broken Arch

After lunch, we’ve got a bit of a secret for you. The trail to Tapestry Arch and then around through Broken Arch is a little less traveled and can be done by shuttling a car. The entire family hiked to Tapestry Arch, which is a unique arch that not many people see. The trailhead is in the campground! After we walked under Tapestry Arch, Dad headed back to the car while Mom and the boys took the back trail to Broken Arch. Dad drove around to the trailhead for Sand Dune Arch and hiked the trail to Broken Arch. We met right under Broken Arch, it couldn’t have timed out any better. Then Dad retraced his steps with the rest of us back to the new parking spot. The total distance from the campground to Tapestry Arch, through Broken Arch, and to the other parking area is 2.0 miles.

Tapestry Arch is a fun arch to explore.

If you want to hike the short trail out to Tapestry Arch and back, this trail is 0.7 mile out and back. You could then drive to the Sand Dune Arch parking area without visiting Broken Arch. (Note: the trailhead for Broken Arch and Sand Dune Arch start at the same place. Broken Arch to the left, Sand Dune to the right.)

We think Broken Arch is underrated. It is so big, and the trail is easy.
Sand Dune Arch

Whatever you choose to do, don’t skip Sand Dune Arch. It is only a 1/4 mile over to Sand Dune Arch, and it is a kid’s playground. Right underneath the arch is plenty of beach like sand, except it is red. The kids dug in the sand for awhile, and then we walked back to the car. It was starting to get later in the afternoon, and we still had to drive home, but we had one more stop.

Sand Dune Arch is full of people in summer digging in the sand beneath the arch. Winter was definitely less busy!
Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch is our middle child’s favorite arch, so we can’t skip it when we visit Arches National Park. This arch is visible from the road, so you can just pull over, read the sign, look at the arch, and move on, but we always enjoy the easy 1/2 mile RT trail to Skyline Arch. Especially because below the arch is the huge piece that fell out of it where you can scramble around and explore.

Skyline Arch is one of our family favorites.
Visitor Center & Junior Ranger

This ended our day in Arches. We hurried back to the Visitor Center before it closed at 4:00 pm. We wanted to turn in our Junior Ranger booklet. Since we were strapped for time, we had printed them out before coming to Arches. Then we had worked on the booklet before coming down, so there were just a few things to finish in the park. Our boys were sworn in as Junior Rangers at 3:30, and we headed out of the park.

We love doing the Junior Ranger programs.
Home

We grabbed dinner at the Moab Diner since it is our favorite and then headed back to Utah Valley. We got home around 9:00 pm and went straight to bed. It had been a great, but long day!

Other ideas

Feel free to adapt the one day itinerary in Arches National Park to fit your family’s needs. If you have more time to spend in Moab, there are other hikes and things to do in Arches, as well as Moab. Check out our suggestions here:

Make sure to check weather conditions on the Arches National Park website.

2 Comments

  • Thanks for this. We just decided we’re going to Arches National Park on Saturday April 18th, 2020 which is a free admission day for the national parks. We’re in particular targeting Landscape Arch. Can’t wait, we’ve only been once as a family in May 2019 and had a lot of fun (hiked around Balanced Rock, and to Double Arch, to a viewpoint of Delicate Arch, also enjoyed the city of Moab – Rotary Park in particular). I also got to go to Arches NP as a kid in 1992, and hiked to Delicate Arch with my dad and my sister. Such a great place, and now I live just 3 hours away.

    • Wonderful! That will be an awesome time to visit Arches. I hope that this post helps you plan an awesome day trip!