Home to the world’s densest collection of natural arches, Arches National Park is a bucket list destination if you’re road-tripping through Utah. The majestic landscape comprises red and orange sandstone pinnacles, balanced rocks, fins, and over 2,000 natural arches.
Why rent a campervan for a trip to Arches National Park?
Arches National Park is the perfect destination to explore in an Escape Campervan because there is plentiful camping surrounding the park. Unlike other parks with well-established campgrounds, much of the camping near Arches is semi-established, meaning there are little to no amenities; think dirt roads with pullouts.
With an Escape Campervan, you have luxury and comfort right in your vehicle. Navigating the dirt roads to campsites is far more accessible in a campervan than in an RV. Campervans are compact, more mobile, easy to drive, and you don’t need electric or sewer hookups.
Escape Camper Vans also provide many extras to upgrade your camping experience. Escape Camper Vans has thought of everything you could need, from bug nets to kitchen kits to the America the Beautiful National Park Pass.
Preparing for a Trip to Arches National Park
Plan and research the area before heading out on your Arches National Park camping trip. A little preparation goes a long way in helping your trip run smoothly.
Reserve Your Timed-Entry Ticket
A timed-entry ticket is required to enter Arches National Park from April 1 to October 31 between 7 am and 4 pm. You cannot enter the park without this reservation. First-come, first-served reservations become available three months in advance and are released in monthly blocks.
A valid photo ID is required with the entry ticket. If you have reservations at the Devil’s Garden Campground, you do not need a timed entry ticket, as that is a valid entrance ticket.
Arches National Park is a beautiful park, but it’s small and crowds quickly. There is only one park entrance at the start of the 18-mile dead-end road through the park.
If arriving mid-day, plan to wait in long lines at the entrance kiosk and expect packed trailheads and parking pullouts. To avoid the worst crowds, enter the park before 8 am or after 4 pm. Arches are less busy in the early morning and evening, making it well worth catching sunrise or sunset.
Look into Your Campsites
There is only one campground in Arches National Park, Devils Garden Campground. You can reserve Devils Garden Campground in advance from March 1 to October 31. From November through February, the campground is first-come, first-served.
If you can’t get a spot at Devils Garden Campground, you’ll need to camp outside the park. If visiting in the high season from spring through fall, reserve established campgrounds a few months in advance.
Another popular camping option is free dispersed camping on public land. There is a bunch of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land surrounding Arches National Park. It’s common to camp on this land. Check apps like iOverlander, Campendium, and The Dyrt to find Arches National Park camping spots.
Check Park Conditions and Updates
Arches National Park intends to remain open year-round. However, occasional storms and weather conditions can change this. Check the Arches National Park website for up-to-date conditions about trails, roads, and other park information. A banner appears at the top of the page if there are any alerts.
Fuel Up Your Tank
The entrance to Arches National Park is 10 minutes from the town of Moab. There are plenty of opportunities to fuel up your vehicle in Moab. There are no gas stations in the park.
Download a Map
Maps are an essential item to have on a road trip or hike. Download offline maps before arriving at Arches National Park. You’ll receive a park map at the entrance kiosk listing park highlights.
Pack Water and Extra Water
It gets HOT in the desert, and you sweat a lot. You need more water than usual when hiking or visiting viewpoints in Arches National Park.
During the hot months, pack at least one liter of water per hour of hiking. Pack at least a half liter of water per hour in the winter months. Even when visiting park viewpoints, carry extra water in your car. Staying on top of your water consumption helps prevent dehydration.
Grab Food for the day in Moab
There are no restaurants or places to purchase food in Arches. Go grocery shopping in Moab before entering the park. Pack salty snacks. You sweat out a lot of salt in the desert, which can cause fatigue and muscle cramps. Peanuts or trail mix are great options, as well as electrolyte tablets.
Must-See Sights and Places of Arches National Park
Arches National Park consists of 18 miles of road that dead ends at Devil’s Garden. Offering many miles of hiking trails and scenic pullouts, there are plenty of exploration options for all visitors.
Delicate Arch is the most iconic arch in Arches National Park. Almost any sticker, postcard, and t-shirt includes an image of Delicate Arch. Standing 46 feet tall and 32 feet wide, Delicate Arch is the largest freestanding arch in the park. There are a few ways to view Delicate Arch.
Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint
The Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint is the easiest way to see the arch. A 100-yard, flat walk will lead you to the lower viewpoint, where you can see Delicate Arch from a mile away.
Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint
The Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint is a 0.5-mile walk with stairs up to a higher viewpoint with a less obstructed view of the arch.
Delicate Arch Trail
The best way to see Delicate Arch is by hiking out to it. A 3.2-mile out-and-back hike leads you right to the base of the arch. The trail climbs steadily with about 630 feet of elevation change. Along the way, you’ll pass a wall of ancient petroglyphs carved by members of the Ute Tribe.
Double Arch is the tallest arch in the park, standing 112 feet tall. It’s also the second widest at 144 feet long. While it’s visible from the Windows parking lot, with a short bit of walking, you can stand underneath it. The trail is 0.6 miles round trip and gains 30 feet of elevation. It’s flat and, with a little assistance, can be wheelchair accessible.
The Windows Section of Arches National Park showcases multiple impressive sandstone rock formations. From the Windows, you’ll see the very large North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch just across the way from them. A 1-mile loop trail explores the area in full.
Sometimes, when visiting Arches National Park, you have to use your imagination. Courthouse Towers is one of those spots. The Courthouse Towers are multiple tall sandstone columns in the Park Avenue area of Arches. View the towers from the road or hike the 1.8-mile moderate hike to get closer to the impressive formations.
Stop by the Arches Visitor Center to learn about park geology, history, wildlife, and more. Chat with a ranger about the best way to spend your time in the park. The Arches Visitor Center is located just past the Arches National Park entrance and is generally open every day of the year except December 25.
Panorama Point is a viewing area in Arches National Park offering wide-open vistas of Firey Furnace, Devils Garden, and the distant La Sal Mountains. Panorama Point is located right off Arches Scenic Drive and has sidewalks, parking, and picnic tables.
Aches Scenic Drive is the 18-mile road that runs through the park. It takes about 45 minutes to drive one way without traffic. If you love hiking, all the trailheads are located off Arches Scenic Drive. If you’d rather stay close to your car, there are many pullouts along the loop where you can snap photos while taking in the impressive scenery.
Balanced Rock is another one of the unique formations you can see from Arches Scenic Drive. It’s also one of the most iconic rocks in the park. Balanced Rock stands 128 feet tall and literally looks like a rock is balancing on the top of a stack of rocks. Millions of years of erosion are responsible for this crazy boulder formation, which will likely tumble off one day as the landscape erodes.
Fiery Furnace is a very fascinating section of Arches National Park. It’s a large collection of narrow sandstone canyons, arches, and fins. Exploring the area is physically demanding as there are many narrow ledges above drop-offs, loose sand, and broken rocks. In some areas, you have to jump across narrow spots or push your hands and feet against a wall while leaning on your back to squeeze through features.
To explore the maze-like environment of Firey Furnace, you must do so with a park ranger or obtain an individual permit. Both individual permits and ranger-led hikes require previous hiking experience, as well as stamina and agility. Permits and guided tours are limited, so reserve your spot once the reservations open, seven days in advance.
Devils Garden is located at the northernmost part of Arches National Park, right where Arches Scenic Drive ends. Devil’s Garden contains a large collection of arches and fins, including the Landscape Arch, the longest arch in North America at 306 feet wide.
Trailheads to Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, and primitive trails are part of Devil’s Garden. Many of these trails crisscross, allowing you to vary the length of your hike.
Home to one of the darkest skies in the US, it’s worth staying up late to go stargazing in Aches National Park. A new moon and clear night is the best time to see the stars. Some popular stargazing areas include the Balanced Rock Picnic Area, the Windows Area, and Panorama Point.
A variety of ranger-led programs run every day from spring through fall. These programs range from patio talks and evening programs to guided walks and longer hikes. Stop by the Arches National Park visitor center for the programs currently offered.
Camping at Arches National Park
There is only one national park campground in Arches. The nearby camping options are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land outside of the park. Primitive camping is also a popular option which basically means camping on free, public land, sometimes off dirt roads.
Devils Garden Campground is the only campground in Arches National Park. It’s located at Devils Garden, at the end of the 18-mile Arches Scenic Drive. The campground has 51 sites with toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, and grills.
Reservations are available from March 1 – October 31 and are highly recommended as sites book quickly. Reservations open 6 months in advance. From November 1 – February 28 sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Goose Island Campground is a BLM campground located on the Colorado River just north of Moab. It’s a basic campground offering first-come, first-served sites. There are 20 individual basic sites with vault toilets and fire grates but no water.
Kings Bottom Campground is a BLM campground nestled between the tall canyon walls along the Colorado River. It’s a first-come, first-served campsite. There are 21 sites; 11 are drive-in, 10 are hike-in. There is no running water at Kings Bottom Campground but there are toilets. Sites are limited to 10 people and 2 vehicles per site.
Big Bend Campground is a basic campground along the Colorado River with beautiful campsites. It’s a first-come, first-served campground. It’s frequently filled with climbers recreating at the nearby Big Bend Bouldering Area. Big Bend Campground has toilets but no running water.
Hal Canyon Campground is another BLM campground located on the Colorado River. It’s first-come, first-served. There are beautiful views of the river. There are 11 individual sites. There is no potable water but there are toilets.
There are many options for free camping near Arches National Park if you’re comfortable camping without any services. You’ll need to bring everything with you. There are no toilets or water spigots off these dirt roads. You must properly dispose of all waste when camping primatively. Pack out all food and trash. Have a toilet set up or bring WAG bags to use when you have to go to the bathroom. It’s important to respect these natural areas, otherwise they end up closed.
Many animals frequent campsites around Arches National Park. Proper food storage is essential. While bears live in the area, they aren’t the most common concern. It’s the smaller desert rodents, ringtails, and skunks that are likely to get into your food. Lock up all food at night in your car or bear boxes when provided at campsites. Do not approach or feed any wildlife.
Types of Campsites
Many of the campsites in and around Arches National Park provide minimal services. Devils Garden Campground in the park has drinkable water. Most other campsites do not have water spigots. Plan to bring water with you when camping. At least two gallons of water per person, per day is recommended.
Follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace
The 7 Leave No Trace Principles are a list of ethics to practice when recreating in the outdoors to benefit both your experience and the environment and wildlife.
Plan and research your trip. Let someone know your travel plans before you head out and when you plan to return.
Camp and travel on durable surfaces. Stick to trails and pre-established campsites.
Properly dispose of waste. Use campground toilets. Pack out all trash and food scraps.
Leave what you find so others can enjoy it and keep the environment natural.
Check campfire regulations before you have a fire. Often, fire permits are necessary, and sometimes fire bans are in effect. Fire regulations are posted on the information board when you enter a campground.
Respect wildlife. Give animals space, and do not approach them.
Be considerate of other visitors. Avoid blasting music at camp, park in your designated spot, and follow quiet hour rules.
When is the best time to visit Arches National Park?
Arches National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s possible to visit any time of year! However, different seasons offer varying experiences based on weather, crowds, and trail conditions.
Spring is a great time to visit Arches National Park. Temperatures are comfortable, and trails are generally melted and dry following winter snow—March and April average highs in the 60s. Highs in May start to rise, reaching the upper 70s. Nighttime temperatures generally average in the 40s in spring, getting warmer closer to summer.
March is also part of the shoulder season. So, while it has cooler spring temperatures, the park is less crowded, making March the perfect time to visit! April and May are great times to see wildflowers blooming in Arches National Park.
Summertime is one of the most popular times to visit Arches National Park because kids are out of school and families are on vacation. While that is convenient, the park becomes crowded and very hot. From June through August, it’s not uncommon for daytime temperatures to reach above 100 for many days in a row. If you plan to visit in the summer, plan to start your hikes at sunrise to avoid the day’s heat. Stick to short hikes and carry plenty of water.
Summer also brings the chance for monsoon rains. These monsoons can cause flash flooding, which can be very dangerous. If you visit the park during or after a rainstorm, check in with park rangers about conditions for safety.
Like Spring, Fall is a great time to visit Arches National Park. September still has its hot days, but as it reaches October and November, average daytime temperatures drop from the 70s to the 50s. Fall is a great time to hike and explore throughout the park. Also, the park is far less crowded, especially post-Labor Day weekend.
Winter is the least crowded time to visit Arches National Park. Expect daytime temperatures in the 40s and nights in the 20s. It occasionally snows in Arches, so hiking trails may become inaccessible, but views along the Arches Scenic Drive are worth the visit!
Reserve with Escape Camper Vans for your trip to Arches National Park
From how to prepare, where to camp, what to explore, and when to visit, you now have the full guide to visiting Arches National Park. So, it’s time to pick a date and book your Escape Campervan road trip from Salt Lake City to Arches National Park! There’s nothing better than traveling easily and comfortably, and Escape Camper Vans provides just that!