One day in Arches National Park will be an adventurous 24 hours you’ll be reminiscing on for years.
While one day in the park isn’t enough time to do and see everything, it is enough time to experience some of the most iconic Arches like Delicate Arch, and one or two of the more adventurous trails such as Devils Garden or Tower Arch.
We recently spent one day exploring Arches National Park and already can’t wait to go back.
In this guide, I highlight how to maximize your short time in the park, how to obtain a timed-entry ticket, the best time to visit, and nearby adventures to add to your itinerary.
One Day In Arches National Park Itinerary
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Commonly Asked Questions
Are Reservations Required for Arches National Park?
In January 2022, Arches National Park implemented a reservation system. Visitors entering the park between April 3rd – October 3rd from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. must apply for a timed entry ticket.
Tickets go on sale three months in advance and go quickly. Entry tickets are not sold at the park. You must purchase your ticket online or by phone.
Purchase your timed entry ticket here.
To ensure you snag the date and time you’re aiming for, make sure to create an account with recreation.gov. and log in prior to attempting to reserve a ticket.
Make sure to have your timed entry ticket, photo ID, and valid park pass on hand when arriving. I recommend investing in the America the Beautiful pass so you can get unlimited access to all U.S. National Parks throughout the year.
If you are unable to secure a reservation for your date, a small number of next-day tickets will become available every day at 6:00 p.m. MST.
While having to make a reservation can seem like an added, frustrating step, it’s in place for good reason. The timed entry system will help improve congestion, minimize visitor impacts, and make your one day in Arches National Park much more enjoyable.
You can learn more about the timed entry system here.
Is One Day Enough in Arches National Park?
One day in Arches National park is absolutely enough time to see the park’s highlights, while also exploring a longer trail or two.
However, start your day before the sun and stay past sundown to fully experience the best of the park.
While one day in Arches is enough time to experience the park, more days will always allow for more adventuring. If your schedule is flexible, I recommend extending your trip and hitting up each of the Utah Mighty 5 parks.
When is the Best Time to Visit Arches National Park?
In my opinion, there is no wrong time to explore Arches National Park. In fact, there’s really no wrong time to take a Utah road trip in general.
Now, are there times of the year when the weather is more enjoyable, the days are longer, and the crowds are thinner? Absolutely.
Time of Day
Anytime you’re planning to romp around the desert, early mornings and evenings are going to be the most magical time of day. The lighting and temperatures can be harsh mid-day and cause the vibrant red and orange hues iconic to the area to appear barren and washed out.
For the best experience, colors, and photo ops, plan your adventures around sunrise and sunset. Since this itinerary only has you spending one day in Arches National Park, it’s important that you seize the day.
No sleeping on my clock.
Time of Year
The best time of year to visit Arches National Park is in the spring or fall. During the shoulder season, the temperatures will be mild and enjoyable, and the number of visitors exploring the park will be more manageable.
With that being said, we visited Moab in the dead heat of summer and during peak visitor influx and had the trip of a lifetime.
Pay more mind to the time of year if you are someone who is susceptible to extreme temperature side effects or easily annoyed by crowds.
Regardless of when you go, it’s sure to be a bucket list adventure to write home about.
Is One Day Enough to Do Arches and Canyonlands National Park?
Since Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are only 30 minutes away from one another, it is possible to do them both in one day.
Keep in mind that in doing so, you will only have time to see the popular sights or do only one or two off-the-beaten-path adventures in both parks.
If possible, I recommend spending one day in Arches and one day in Canyonlands so you don’t feel as rushed on time and can experience more than viewpoints and crowded attractions.
It’s important to note that Canyonlands National Park is split into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves.
The Island in the Sky district is the most popular district and the one closest to Arches National Park. If you are attempting to see them both in one day, this is the district you will be exploring.
One Day in Arches National Park Itinerary
Use this one-day in Arches National Park itinerary to help you navigate the scenic park road, visit the iconic sights, and spend some time adventuring off the beaten path.
Start your morning by hiking Delicate Arch Trail. I recommend getting started in the dark (pack a headlamp) so you can witness the sunrise at the arch before the crowds start barreling in.
Regardless of the crowds, Delicate Arch is absolutely worth the hype and attention it has received over the years and is a must-see when spending one day in Arches National Park.
Not only is Delicate Arch way more beautiful in person, but the surrounding views are also worth the trek in itself. The trail is a short 3.2 miles, but do not let its distance and popularity fool you.
Delicate Arch Trail is a moderate hike, not a viewpoint. Make sure to show up prepared with proper hiking shoes and plenty of water.
I also recommend downloading the offline trail map from AllTrails before beginning. The trail becomes a bit elusive at times, especially when navigating in the dark.
After spending time at Delicate Arch, head to the very end of Arches National Park Road. Devils Garden is the last stop along the park road and is located 15 minutes from Delicate Arch.
You have two options for exploring Devils Garden: (1) hike the out-and-back trail to Double O Arch or (2) hike the longer Primitive Loop Trail.
Since you’re only spending one day in Arches National Park I suggest Hiking to Double O Arch and back. The trail is 4 miles and takes hikers past Landscape Arch, the longest arch span in North America, before ending at Double O Arch.
The section from Landscape Arch to Double O Arch is breathtaking and full of adventure. The trail leads hikers up and over sandstone fins with sweeping views on both sides.
Though this trail is longer, it is still incredibly popular and will be busy.
If time allows and your legs are up for it, consider taking option #2 and hiking the 7.9-mile Primitive Loop Trail for a more off-the-beaten-path pathway to the arches.
After gamboling around Devils Garden, make your way toward the secluded Tower Arch Trail.
Finding the trailhead can be a bit tricky as it is not located right off of Arches Scenic Drive, like many of the other hikes in the park. The trail is located roughly 8 miles down the unmaintained Salt Valley Road.
Tower Arch Trail is hands down our favorite hike in Arches National Park. The trail is only 2.5 miles in distance but it embodies the very essence of the phrase “off the beaten path.”
We only passed two other hikers on the trail — an unbelievable circumstance considering that Tower Arch is the grandest arch in the park, in my opinion.
Sand Dune Arch
After leaving Tower Arch Trail, make a quick pit stop at Sand Dune Arch. With the distance to the arch clocking in at only .3 miles, I wouldn’t even consider this stop a hike but rather a short walk.
Sand Dune Arch isn’t impressive in size or in trail views but it is incredibly unique compared to the other hikes in the park.
To reach the arch hikers enter a small slot canyon.
The Windows Loop and Turret Arch, and Double Arch
Windows Loop and Turret Arch Trail begin from the same parking lot as Double Arch Trail.
Explore the two trails as much or as little as your legs or time will allow. These two stops were our least favorite attractions in the park. Both stops were extremely crowded and felt more like viewpoints rather than adventurous trails.
With that being said, Double Arch is the tallest arch in the park, and the view through Turret Arch towards the windows is beautiful.
If you have the time and energy, go for it. After all, it’s not every day that you get to spend one day in Arches National Park.
For your final adventure in the park, head to the Park Avenue Trailhead for sunset.
The trail is a short 2 miles and is packed with canyon views and towering red rock fins. Park Avenue is a perfect way to top off your day in Arches National Park.
Plus, if you’re too exhausted to do the full trail, you can always pull up to the viewpoint and admire the views from afar.
Places Near Arches National Park You Can’t Skip
Arches National Park is surrounded by incredible places and parks. The rad town of Moab, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park and all musts when in the area.
Moab is easily one of my favorite adventure towns I’ve ever visited. The town serves as the launching point into Arches National Park.
The tiny town has something for everyone: climbing, mountain biking, canyoneering, rafting, hiking, camping — you name it.
Must-do hikes you can’t miss during your time in Moab are Castleton Tower Trail and Corona and Bowtie Arch Trail. To this day I still dream about our trail adventures in Moab. Think all of the epicness of Arches National Park, with a fraction of the people.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to partake in an adrenaline-pumping activity or two while you’re in town as well. Spend a day canyoneering or paddling down the Colorado River.
Moab isn’t a one-and-done kind of town, it’s more of a return time and time again, can’t get enough, town.
Canyonlands National Park
The Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands is located just over 30 minutes from Arches National Park and is just as iconic.
The park is packed with boundless views of surrounding mesas and buttes. Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky district is another area you can cram a lot into in just one day.
Check out Mesa Arch Trail for sunrise, White Rim Trail for incredible views, Aztec Butte Trail for Puebloan granaries, and end your day at Grand Viewpoint Overlook Trail for sunset.
Dead Horse Point State Park
If for nothing else, do not pass on making the 30-minute drive to catch the sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park.
Hiking the Rim Loop Trail is a great way to explore the park because it allows you to choose how much of it you want to see, and allows you to pop a squat at any moment to soak in the spell-binding views.
Dead Horse Point State Park is a nice breath of fresh air away from the busyness of nearby Arches and Canyonlands.
If you have any questions about this one-day in Arches National Park itinerary or things to know before visiting, drop me a message in the comment section below.
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Arches is one of the best parks to visit for just a day! I loved spending a day exploring all the best trails there. Thanks for the awesome info.