Adventure Guide: Arches National Park, Utah

My Arches Experience

I first visited Utah in the spring of 2016, and to say it was impactful is an understatement: In a year and a half, I don’t believe there has been a day I haven’t thought about that state and the unique beauty it holds.

I drove straight from Ontario to Moab, and after three days of being cooped up in a little hatchback, exploration was calling. Only a 10-minute drive from downtown, Arches crept its way up the list as one of the first of many Utah destinations to roam.

I hiked, I explored, I camped, and even came back for an afternoon in the Fiery Furnace, a hike within a maze of sandstone fins. I got caught in a windstorm and my tent blew away. I watched the sunset while an ominous desert storm rolled by in the faraway distance. I hiked up to Delicate Arch and stood in awe, feeling the controversial presence of the missed Dean Potter.

As a hiker, a climber, and a lover of unique landscapes, I couldn’t have asked any more from my Arches experience.

Top Three Descriptors

  1. Other-worldly… You will never see another landscape like it.
  2. Fascinating… How did the rocks form these structures?
  3. Accessible… 10 minutes from downtown Moab and the majority of the sights can be seen by car (Pro? Con? You decide).

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Things to Consider

  1. If you’re looking for a secluded wilderness excursion: this ain’t it. Upon initial research, part of me was disappointed when discovering the absence of backcountry trails to explore. However, it proved to be a non-issue as the landscape had me anyway. 
  2. In the middle of the park, the elevation of Arches hits its maximum at over 5,600 feet. As a result, temperatures can vary drastically. Plan ahead and grab the gear you’ll be most comfortable in.
  3. It’s small. I took two and a half days to explore the park but you can easily see the highlights in one if time is a limiting factor.
  4. It’s busy, and traffic continues to increase each year. The National Parks Service reported 1.58 million visitors throughout the course of 2016; just under 1.4 million the year before. Combined with its small size, this means there are plenty of people in not a huge amount of space. If crowds are something you’d like to avoid, watch out for promotional parks days and target the off-season.
  5. Which leads to… Book ahead. Their campground is small and spots on guided tours, like the restricted Fiery Furnace, are limited. With the number of people heading into the park, availability can go quick.

Fun Fact

Arches is the setting for Edward Abbey’s classic, Desert Solitaire. Grab it before you head into the park to get psyched on the experience and learn a bit of history along the way. Plus, he’s super badass. So you’ll probably enjoy the book anyway.

Bobbi’s Arches NP Top Three

  1. The hike into Park Avenue. It’s a short one, but well worth the stop;
  2. The view from Panorama Point; and
  3. Catching the alpenglow on the La Sal Mountains as the sun sets.

An Insider’s Secret

If you’re set on Fiery Furnace and but spots are all booked up through the park, try a local or independent guiding company as the park reserves some spots for them. My fave: Windgate Adventures, run by a fun and friendly one-man show.

But is it Recommended? 

Yes, most definitely.

Visit the Arches National Park website for more info.

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Did we miss anything? Have any Arches experiences to share? We’d love to hear them below!

 

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