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Arches National Park is a popular destination for visitors looking to explore the natural beauty of the American Southwest. Spanning over 76,000 acres, the park is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as other unique geological formations. One of the most common questions visitors ask is, “How long does it take to drive through Arches National Park?”

The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, such as the time of year, the specific routes you take, and the amount of time you plan to spend at each stop. In this article, we will explore the different routes through the park and provide an estimate of how long it takes to drive through Arches National Park, as well as tips for making the most of your visit.

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it and get started.

How Long Does It Take To Drive Through Arches National Park?

The main road through the park, Park Road, is an 18-mile scenic drive that takes visitors through the main attractions of the park. It takes approximately 1-2 hours to drive this route without stopping, however, it is highly recommended to take your time and stop at the various viewpoints and trailheads along the way. The Park Road is open year-round, but it is closed to private vehicles during the winter months, visitors will need to take a shuttle bus to explore the park.

There are several notable stops along Park Road, including the Windows Section, which features some of the park’s largest and most famous arches, such as the North Window and the South Window. The Windows Section also offers a number of short hikes that allow visitors to get up close to the arches and explore the surrounding landscape.

Another popular stop along Park Road is Delicate Arch, which is the park’s most famous arch and is depicted on Utah license plates. The arch can be viewed from a distance

Additional Routes

In addition to Park Road, there are several other routes that visitors can take to explore Arches National Park.

One popular route is the Devil’s Garden Trailhead, which is located at the end of Park Road. This trailhead offers a number of hiking trails that lead to some of the park’s most remote and spectacular arches, such as Landscape Arch and Double O Arch. These trails can be combined to make a 7.2-mile loop hike.

Another popular route is the Sand Dune Arch, which is a short hike that leads to a unique arch that is nestled in a field of sand dunes. The hike is only 0.3 miles round trip and is suitable for visitors of all ages and abilities.

The Park Avenue Trailhead is another option, which offers a moderate hike that leads to some of the park’s most iconic landscapes, such as Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers. The trailhead is located near the Visitor Center and is a 2-mile round-trip hike.

Lastly, the Klondike Bluffs Trailhead offers more challenging hikes that lead to some of the park’s most remote and lesser-known arches, such as Dark Angel and Tower Arch. These hikes are longer and more strenuous than the others and can be combined to make a 7-mile loop hike.

It’s important to note that some of the hikes in the park are only accessible during specific seasons, or have time limitations to access them, make sure to check with the park rangers or the visitor center before planning your route. Overall, the time it takes to drive through Arches National Park depends on the route you choose, and the amount of time you plan to spend at each stop. It’s recommended to allow at least a full day to explore the park, as there are many beautiful sights to see and activities to do, but for those who want to experience more of the park, it’s best to plan for an overnight stay.

Related: What Are The Social Benefits Of Hiking?

Can you just drive through Arches National Park?

Yes, it is possible to drive through Arches National Park. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that some of the hikes and trails are only accessible during specific seasons, or have time limitations to access them, so make sure to check with the park rangers or the visitor center before planning your route.

Additionally, the park has a daily entrance fee and a parking fee, make sure to check the fees and timing before planning your trip.

What is the best time of day and year to visit Arches National Park if you’ll be driving?

The best time to visit Arches National Park depends on your personal preferences and what you hope to see and do while in the park.

Spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) are considered the best seasons to visit the park. The weather is mild and the crowds are smaller compared to the summer months. Spring is also a great time to see wildflowers in bloom and fall offers the opportunity to see the changing colors of the leaves on the trees.

Summer (June-August) is the busiest season in the park, but it’s also the best time to see the park’s unique geological features and enjoy outdoor activities. The temperature during the day can reach over 100F, so it’s important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Hiking during the early morning or late afternoon is recommended to avoid the heat.

Winter (December-February) is the least popular time to visit the park, it can be cold and snowy, and some park facilities and trails may be closed due to snow and ice. However, the park is less crowded, and it’s a great time to see the park’s arches covered in snow, and have a chance to see the park in a different light.

It’s also important to note that some of the hikes and trails are only accessible during specific seasons, or have time limitations to access them, make sure to check with the park rangers or the visitor center before planning your route, and plan your trip accordingly.

Regarding the time of day, you will also enjoy cooler mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures won’t be too hot. You can avoid long lines at the entrance gate and parking congestion by arriving in the early morning or late afternoon. Late afternoon and evening visits can be especially enjoyable, since the lighting is better for photography and viewing the park features, and the parking areas and trails are less crowded.

How much time do you need in Arches National Park?

how long does it take to drive through arches national park

The amount of time you’ll need to enjoy Arches National Park depends on your personal interests and the activities you plan to do while in the park. A full day is a minimum recommendation to drive through the main road, stop at some of the main viewpoints and possibly take a short hike or two. However, if you’re interested in hiking, want to see more of the park’s remote areas, or want to take your time to enjoy the park’s natural beauty, it’s recommended to plan for an overnight stay.

An overnight stay in the park allows you to see the park in a different light, and gives you more time to explore some of the park’s more remote areas, such as the Devils Garden Trailhead, and take longer hikes to see some of the park’s lesser-known arches and geological formations.

Additionally, if you’re interested in photography or want to experience the park’s beauty during different times of the day, it’s recommended to plan for a couple of days to be able to explore the park in different light conditions and have the chance to capture different moods of the park.

It’s important to keep in mind that some of the hikes and trails are only accessible during specific seasons, or have time limitations to access them, make sure to check with the park rangers or the visitor center before planning your route and plan your trip accordingly

Related: Best Snacks For Hiking In Hot Weather

Can you drive a side-by-side in Arches National Park?

Side-by-sides, also known as off-road vehicles (ORVs) or utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), are not allowed to drive on the roads or trails within Arches National Park. The park has implemented strict rules to protect the natural resources and fragile ecosystem of the park and to ensure the safety of visitors.

The only off-road vehicles allowed in the park are those used by park staff for official business, and only on designated routes. Visitors are not allowed to bring or operate their own off-road vehicles, including side-by-sides, in the park.

Visitors can enjoy the park by driving on the paved roads, hiking on designated trails, and taking guided tours. These activities provide an opportunity to experience the park’s natural beauty and unique geological features while minimizing its impact on the environment.

It’s important to note that if you’re planning a trip to Arches National Park, you should be aware of the park’s rules and regulations, and plan your visit accordingly. This will help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience while also protecting the park’s resources for future generations to enjoy.

Tips for making the most of your visit to Arches National Park

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to Arches National Park:

1. Plan ahead:

Research the park’s trails, arches, and viewpoints you want to see and plan your route accordingly. Check the park’s website or contact the park rangers for the latest information on fees, hours of operation, and any restrictions that may be in place.

2. Visit during the shoulder seasons:

Spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) are considered the best seasons to visit the park as the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller compared to the summer months.

3. Rise early:

Arrive at the park early in the morning to avoid crowds and experience the park’s natural beauty during the best light conditions.

4. Bring plenty of water and snacks:

The park is located in a desert environment and the temperature can reach over 100F during the summer, make sure to stay hydrated and bring enough food to sustain you during the day.

5. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear:

Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sun protection, and bring layers as temperatures can change throughout the day.

6. Respect the park’s resources:

Arches National Park is home to a fragile ecosystem, make sure to stay on designated trails, pack out your trash, and do not disturb wildlife or plants.

7. Use the park’s shuttle service:

During peak season, the park can get busy and the parking lots can fill up quickly, consider using the park’s shuttle service to avoid parking issues and to minimize the impact on the park’s resources.

8. Consider taking a guided tour:

Guided tours provide an opportunity to learn more about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife, and can help you make the most of your visit to the park.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your visit to Arches National Park, while also ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable experience and that the park’s resources are protected for future generations to enjoy.