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An Overlander’s Guide to Arches National Park 

 May 15, 2023

By  Patrick @DarkSkyOverland

Arches National ParkIf you are serious about overlanding and national parks, then you definitely want to put Arches National Park on your list as a must-visit destination.

This red-rock wonderland in Utah is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, soaring pinnacles, and massive fins.

The park is an overlander’s paradise, with endless opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, and exploring.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to plan the ultimate overlanding trip to Arches National Park. From the best time to visit to the top hikes and camping spots, we’ve got you covered.

When to Visit Arches National Park

Arches National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. The summer months can be scorching, with temperatures reaching over 100°F, and the winter can bring snow and icy conditions.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, plan to visit during the weekdays and early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The park can get busy during peak season, so be sure to plan ahead and make any necessary reservations in advance.

If you’re visiting between April 1 through October 31, please be aware that all visitors are now required to have a timed entry ticket to enter the park (effective 2023). Watch the following video for more information:

Grab your timed entry ticket from Recreation.gov.

How to Get to Arches National Park

Arches National ParkArches National Park is located just outside of Moab, Utah, and is easily accessible by car.

If you’re traveling from Salt Lake City, plan on a 4.5-hour drive, and if you’re coming from Denver, Colorado, it’s about a 6-hour drive.

Once you arrive in Moab, you’ll want to head north on US-191 for about 5 miles until you reach the park entrance.

From there, the park road will take you on a scenic journey through the park, past all of the major landmarks and trailheads.

Click HERE to get directions to the park using Google Maps.

Where to Camp in Arches National Park

Arches National ParkArches National Park offers only one campground for visitors which is located at Devils Garden.

Devils Garden Campground has 54 sites available for reservation between March and October. Between November and February, sites are first-come, first-served.

The campground is located near some of the park’s most popular hiking trails, including the Devils Garden Trail, which takes you past eight different arches.

To make your reservation at Devils Garden, you’ll need to go through the reservation system provided by Recreation.gov.

Where to Camp outside of Arches National Park

Bureau of Land ManagementFor those who prefer a more rustic camping experience, there are several dispersed campsites located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land just outside of Arches National Park. These sites are first-come, first-served and offer a more primitive camping experience without the amenities of a developed campground.

One popular area for dispersed camping is Willow Springs Road, located just a few miles outside of the park entrance. This area offers several campsites with stunning views of the surrounding red rock landscape. However, it’s important to note that there are no facilities or services available in this area, so campers will need to come prepared with all necessary supplies and equipment.

Another option for dispersed camping is along the Klondike Bluffs Road, located about 20 miles north of the park. This area offers several primitive campsites with access to hiking trails and stunning views of the surrounding area. Like the Willow Springs area, there are no facilities or services available, so campers will need to bring all necessary supplies and pack out all trash.

Overall, dispersed camping on BLM land just outside of Arches National Park offers a unique and more primitive camping experience for those who prefer to get off the beaten path. While these sites may not offer the amenities of a developed campground, they do offer the opportunity to truly immerse oneself in the stunning natural beauty of the area.

Use the Gaia GPS or onX Off Road App While Exploring

Gaia GPSWhen it comes to overlanding in Arches National Park and the surrounding BLM land, having reliable and accurate navigation is essential for a worry-free and safe trip. This is where GPS maps such as Gaia GPS and onX Off Road come in handy. These maps offer detailed and up-to-date information on trails, roads, and points of interest, helping overlanders navigate with ease.

Using GPS maps such as Gaia GPS and onX Off Road is particularly important when exploring the many dirt roads found on BLM land outside of the park. These roads can be remote and rugged, with limited signage and few services available. With GPS maps, overlanders can ensure they are on the right track and avoid getting lost or stranded in the wilderness.

onX Off-RoadMoreover, GPS maps offer a wealth of information beyond just navigation. They can provide details on terrain, elevation, and other features that may be helpful for planning a route or choosing a campsite. Additionally, they can be used to mark points of interest or create custom routes, making it easy to plan the perfect overlanding trip in Arches National Park and the surrounding area.

Bottom line: Using GPS maps such as Gaia GPS and onX Off Road is essential for worry-free overlanding in Arches National Park and the surrounding BLM land. These maps offer reliable navigation, detailed information, and the ability to plan custom routes, making it easy to explore the stunning natural beauty of the area with confidence without cell service.

Top Hikes in Arches National Park

Arches National Park is home to some of the most stunning hikes in the country, with trails that range from easy walks to strenuous climbs. Here are a few of our favorites:

Delicate Arch Trail

Delicate Arch in Arches National ParkDistance: 3 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate

The Delicate Arch Trail is one of the park’s most iconic hikes, leading visitors to the stunning Delicate Arch. The hike is moderate in difficulty and takes about 2-3 hours round-trip. Be sure to bring plenty of water, as the trail is exposed and can be hot during the summer months.

Fiery Furnace Trail

Distance: 2 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Strenuous

The Fiery Furnace Trail is a challenging hike that takes visitors through a maze of sandstone fins and canyons. The trail is only accessible with a permit and a ranger-led tour, but it’s well worth the effort. The hike takes about 3-4 hours and requires good physical fitness and agility.

Landscape Arch Trail

Distance: 1.6 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Easy

The Landscape Arch Trail is an easy hike that takes visitors to one of the park’s most impressive natural arches, Landscape Arch. The trail is relatively flat and takes about 30-45 minutes to complete round-trip. Be sure to take in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape along the way.

Devil’s Garden Trail

Distance: 7.2 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Strenuous

The Devil’s Garden Trail is a longer, more strenuous hike that takes visitors past eight different natural arches, including the stunning Landscape Arch. The trail is rated as difficult due to its length and steep inclines, but the stunning views and unique rock formations make it well worth the effort.

Other Activities in Arches National Park

In addition to hiking and camping, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy in Arches National Park. Here are a few of our favorites:

Scenic Drive

Arches National Park, certified Dark Sky ParkIf you’re short on time or simply want to take in the stunning views from the comfort of your car, a scenic drive through the park is a must. The 18-mile road through the park takes visitors past all of the major landmarks, including Balanced Rock and Double Arch.

Stargazing

Arches National Park is a designated International Dark Sky Park, meaning it’s one of the best places in the world for stargazing. Pack a blanket and head to one of the park’s designated stargazing areas for an unforgettable experience under the stars.

Rock Climbing

For the more adventurous, Arches National Park offers some of the best rock climbing in the country. With over 2,000 natural arches and rock formations, there are plenty of opportunities for climbers of all skill levels.

Video of Main Park Road in 4K

This particular video features dash cam footage of me driving past Courthouse Towers, Three Gossips and the Tower of Babel on Main Park Road in Arches National Park on July 12, 2020, during a three week overland trip to nine other National Parks.

Conclusion

Arches National Park is a true natural wonder, with stunning red-rock landscapes and some of the most impressive natural arches in the world. Whether you’re an experienced overlander or simply looking for a unique and unforgettable adventure, Arches National Park has something for everyone.

With this brief overlander’s guide, you should have enough information to plan the ultimate overlanding trip to Arches National Park. From the best time to visit to the top hikes and activities, we’ve got you covered. So pack your bags and hit the road for an unforgettable adventure in one of America’s most stunning national parks.

Have you visited Arches National Park? If so, what did I miss in this overlander’s guide?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for your input! It is greatly appreciated!

Patrick @DarkSkyOverland


Dark Sky Overland is an overland lifestyle brand that was created to support the various trips I take to National Parks and other designated Dark Sky Parks within the United States. It was also born out of a strong desire to simplify life after my wife of over 24 years passed away from a three year battle with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). You can learn more about my story at https://darkskyoverland.com/about/.

Patrick @DarkSkyOverland

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