You can take two short trails from the parking lot, Sand Dune Arch Trail and Broken Arch Trail. The 2/10 of a mile Sand Dune Arch trail brings you to a concealed arch just off of the road. Broken Arch isn't really broken at all. The half-mile long trail loops around to the south from the parking lot to the massive rounded window in the sandstone wall.
The 7.2 mile Devils Garden Trail (including all spur trails) offers the most incredible hike in Arches National Park, and possibly in all of Utah. Passing by twelve major arches, the first stop on this loop is spectacular Landscape Arch. Landscape Arch is arguably the longest arch in the world, fighting with Kolob Arch in Zion National Park for the title. However there is no arguing that Landscape Arch is more spectacular and much easier to get to. Stretching for over 300 feet above the desert floor the arch is only 11 feet thick at its narrowest point. The loop trail that goes under the arch has been closed since 1996 after a series of rock falls. Some speculate that Landscape Arch could completely collapse one day ending the debate on which one is the largest.
As you continue along the trail you can take a number of spur trails to Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. At the Double O Arch you can take a spur trail west to Dark Angel, a massive stone monolith at the western edge of the Devils Garden.
For the return trip be sure to take the primitive trail through Fin Canyon and out to Private Arch. Noel de Nevers, a college professor, was hiking with a group of students in the late 1970's when they came across what is now know today as Private Arch. Thinking that the arch was already documented, they took pictures and noted the location. Research indicated that the arch had never been documented before and the news was announced in 1982 shocking geologists around the world. From Private Arch the trail then loops back through Fin Canyon before meeting the Devils Garden Trail close to Landscape Arch.
Devils Garden also offers camping to park visitors. The campground offers 52 sites with austere facilities. Sites are offered on a first come first serve basis. Park visitors can pre-register for a campsite at the park Visitor Center. Registration opens at 7:30 AM and the campground is usually full by 9:00 AM so be sure to arrive early. Water and flush toilets are available from April to October, however there are no RV hookups or showers. In the summer months a variety of fireside ranger programs are available to discuss the history, features, and folklore of the park. Visitors should note that the campground will be closed from November of 2000 to February of 2001 for much needed improvements and repairs.
If you want to hit the backcountry you can get a free permit from the Visitor Center. There are no designated backcountry areas within Arches National Park so common sense rules apply. Camping is not permitted close to roads, trails, or park improvements and leave no trace ethics should be followed.
Despite the fact that the arches are made of sandstone, the material is very durable and Arches National Park offers tremendous opportunity for rock climbing. Most climbs are technical in nature. Although no permits are required, there are a number or regulations and certain areas of the park are restricted to climbing.
When visiting Arches National Park the weather is a constant factor. Temperatures can swing as much as 50° F. in a single day. Summertime temperatures can exceed 100° F. while in winter it is not unusual for snow to power the landscape. The park is exceptionally dry so dehydration is a year round threat. Even if you are simply driving through the park be sure to carry and drink plenty of water.
Arches National Park is a natural marvel to behold. Its best asset is offering some of the easiest access to incredible natural features not found anywhere else in the world. The forces of extreme temperature change, erosion and wind have worked together to create an incredible scenic wonderland.
Just The Plain Facts
Name: Arches National Park
Location: Southeastern Utah, Moab
Nearest Major Air Service: Grand Junction, Colorado, Salt Lake City, Utah
Fees & Permits: $10 per vehicle. Backcountry permits are free.
Why Visit: Largest collection of natural sandstone arches in the world including the world's largest, Landscape Arch. Incredible desert views abound with easy access to most park features through an excellent network of roads and trails.
When To Visit: April to October
Essential Gear: Depends on a wide variety of activity, sunscreen, lip balm, light jacket (even in summer), hat, camera, binoculars, plenty of drinking water. Other equipment strongly recommended.
You Should Know: Don't let the easy access fool you. Hiking in the desert is serious business. Dehydration is a constant threat so carry plenty of water. Watch for thunderstorms during the summer Moonsonal flow and stay out of washes. Temperatures drop sharply when the sun goes down so be sure to carry a light jacket.
More Information: Arches National Park, PO Box 907, Moab, Utah 84532, (801) 259-8161