Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Road trips: Arches National Park, Utah

June 10, 2009, 6:51 am

Arches National Park in southern Utah with its, pinnacles, towers, petrified dunes, slickrock and its 2,000 sandstone arches is a magnificent tour de force. Famed for the Delicate Arch, the 290 foot Landscape Arch, the teetering Balanced Rock and, more recently, for the tragic collapse of the 71 foot Wall Arch on August 5th 2008, Arches National Park provides visitors with an amazing display of sandstone monuments sculpted by rain, wind and erosion over the last 100 million years.
 
Established as a National Monument in 1929 and upgraded to a National Park in 1971, “Arches” is located just five miles north of Moab on Highway 191. Arches National Park Road runs for 18 miles directly through the park and ends at the Devil’s Garden Trailhead. There are only two ancillary roads along the way, the first takes you to the Cove of Caves and Double Arch (the jumping off point for the North and South Window trails), whilst the second takes you to Wolfe Ranch (the upper Delicate Arch trail) and the Lower Delicate Arch viewpoints.
 
You should allow at least two days which will give you a brief glimpse of the park, you could split this evenly between driving and hiking. The National Parks Service suggests that you can drive the whole park in about five hours which includes stops at all the viewpoints including the Windows Section, Wolfe Ranch and the Delicate Arch viewpoint. This is an accurate assessment. Depending on the weather, your age, level of fitness and number of children or otherwise in your party it would be possible to hike the Windows Loop Trail, Balanced Rock Trail and Delicate Arch Trail in a day. This would take about five hours. Given the heat (the maximum temperature in the park is approximately 116 degrees Fahrenheit in July) and the real possibility of dehydration, always err on the side of caution when planning your hikes. An old school recommendation is that you carry salt tablets, as well as water, in order to replace lost sodium.