Thinking about an Arches National Park camping trip? What are you waiting for?
If you’re sick and tired of the concrete jungle or your regular lawn and backyard, then a trip to Arches National Park is in order. Forget the city skyline and immerse yourself in a place full of red rocks. The rock formations produced by nature will take your breath away. You’ll feel like you’re on another planet, trying out your camping and survival skills.
About Arches National Park: Quick Facts
- The park got its name from having the greatest number of natural arches in one place, roughly 2000.
- It can be found in Grand County, Utah.
- The park has a total land area of 76,359 acres.
- Established on 12 November 1971 though it was already open to the public in 1923.
- In the 1880s, interest in the area started to grow as nearby communities kept talking about how it can be a tourist spot.
- Some of the numerous animals that can be seen in this desert park are bighorn sheep, mule deer, bats, owls, mountain lions and foxes.
- Plants still thrive in Arches National Park such as grass, cacti, columbine and mosses.
- Landscape Arch is considered the largest in the park, spanning just over 300 feet.
- Temperatures go as low as -14° in winter.
- And yes, it rains in Arches National Park during the summer season.
Preparing for an Arches National Park Camping Trip
Majestic and breathtaking as it may be, it must never be forgotten that Arches National Park is a desert. This type of land must be dealt with accordingly. This is a great opportunity to test your prepping skills, and when you get there, your survival skills.
The park is situated in a high desert area which means that the rise and fall of temperatures can be drastic if not extreme. The fluctuations are known to go more than 40°.
You may bring your pets to Arches but they cannot go any further than the campgrounds. The hiking trails and the visitor center are off-limits for them. Park authorities strongly discourage visitors from abandoning pets in the car, as the heat in the desert can be fatal.
Cell sites are yet to be built within Arches National Park; the only signal you are going to get are those outside the area. According to celularmaps.com, the parking lot is where you can get decent coverage. Hiking trails get little to no signal.
Permits & Reservations
Arches is a relatively small area, making it less ideal for backpacking but if you must, you can get a free permit to do so. It is important to remember that the authorities discourage backpacking in large groups because of its environmental impact.
Hikers going to Fiery Furnace will need to obtain permits from the Arches Visitor Center.
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You can make a reservation to use a site or sites at the Devils Garden Campground between March and October through www.recreation.gov.
While Arches National Park is not exactly a mountainous area, there are enough slickrock, sandy patches and sections where you’ll need to scramble to make it an exciting hiking destination. A terrain this friendly makes the area great for camping as well.
What to Pack for an Arches National Park Camping Trip
Allow us to remind you how important it is to bring lots and lots of water. Arches is in the desert and water is your best defense from the heat.
__ 1 pair of lightweight hiking boots: boots need to be well broken in and comfortable
__ 1 pair of comfortable athletic shoes, Teva/Chaco/Keen sandals, or crocs for wearing around our
accommodations and in town.
__ 2-3 pairs of hiking socks (some people also like to wear liner socks)
__ 1 pairs of comfortable nylon/supplex long pants for hiking. Zip-offs work well
__ 1 pairs of shorts
__ 3 T-shirts or short-sleeved shirts (synthetic or lightweight wool)
__ 1 lightweight, long-sleeved shirt for hiking
__ 1 pair lightweight long underwear top and bottoms: silk, wool or synthetic equivalent (Capilene, Smartwool,
MTS, or polypropylene)
__ 1 medium-weight top layer: wool shirt/pull-over or synthetic equivalent (“expedition weight” long underwear,
microfleece). A fleece or wool vest is good for this layer as well.
__ 1 fleece jacket
__ 1 rain parka and rain pants: coated nylon or a waterproof/breathable fabric like Gore-tex.
__ a warm wool or fleece hat
__ 1 pair wool, capilene, or fleece gloves
__ 1 wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap for protection from the sun
__ a swimsuit (for the hot tub)
__ 1 – 2 changes of comfortable clothes to wear around the hotels and out to dinner (e.g. pants and/or skirt,
with a couple of tops)
TOILETRIES (small everything)
__ Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, shampoo, contact lens paraphernalia, and sanitary supplies
__ Sunscreen and lip protection with sunblock of at least SPF 15
__ personal “patch kit”: Band-Aids, Second Skin, moleskin, cloth athletic tape, ibuprofen, personal
medications, if any. Individuals allergic to insect bites must bring an anaphylactic kit.
__ Sunglasses (100% UV protection) w/retention strap
__ 1 daypack large enough to hold your supplies for the day (water, snacks, sunscreen, raingear, fleece jacket,
wool hat and gloves, personal patch kit, etc.)
__ capacity to carry 3 liters of water: 3 one-liter water or a hydration system that fits in your pack
__ hiking poles (very, very strongly recommended)
__ Tupperware sandwich box (for trail lunches)
__ Ear plugs (for a good night’s sleep!)
__ Your favorite snack
What to Do in Arches National Park
Now that you’ve prepared and packed for your trip, it’s time to explore some of Arches National Park’s beautiful sights as well as great activities. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Delicate Arch
You’ve seen this arch before: it’s the unofficial state symbol, stamping nearly every Utah tourist brochure in print. The best way to experience the arch is from beneath it. Park near Wolfe Ranch , a well-preserved 1908 pioneer cabin. From there a footbridge crosses Salt Wash (near Native American rock art) and marks the beginning of the moderate-to-strenuous, 3-mile round-trip trail to the arch itself. The trail ascends slickrock, culminating in a wall-hugging ledge before reaching the arch. Read more
2. Treasures Hanging in the Balance
Landscape Arch and Balanced Rock look like they might topple tomorrow and they could! Come quick as the features in this park erode and evolve constantly. See more
3. The Windows Area
The Windows area is just past the Balanced Rock parking area. There are four major arches is the area, North and South Window Arches, Turret Arch and Double Arch. The trails are very easy to walk with no major hills or obsticles. All four arches are within one square mile and there is a parking area within a quarter mile of each arch. Read more
4. Fiery Furnace
Take a journey into the depths of the Arches when visiting the Fiery Furnace. This cool geologic formation is the perfect place to enjoy a hike, a walking tour or sunset and sunrise views. Throughout the Fiery Furnace tour, you will make your way over rocks and through sandy pathways, learning about the history of the park and formations as you travel along with your tour guide. Continue reading
5. Park Avenue
The Park Avenue Trail is the most popular hike in the park because of its ease and scenery. However, many visitors to the park stop at the Park Avenue Viewpoint, snap a few pictures, and return to their cars without really exploring this amazing trail along dry wash bed between enormous towering walls of red sandstone. The trail is about 1 mile long from the trailhead near the south entrance of the park. Read more
The campground at Devils Garden affords phenomenal views. See more
Bike along Salt Valley and Willow Springs Roads. Though you must stay on the roads, mountain bikes are the best way to travel this terrain. See more
Arches National Park is well suited for the visitor who wants to see amazing scenery on short hikes rather than serious, challenging treks. These wonderful trails offer spectacular scenery and, of course, plenty of arches. Keep reading
9. Scenic Driving
Arches National Park is a wonderland and the sort of place that brings out the amateur geologist or landscape photographer in even the most citified of us. Arches offers more bang for your sightseeing buck from a vehicle than just about any other park. The park contains more than 1,500 recognized natural arches, ranging in size from just a few feet to the 306-foot span of mammoth Landscape Arch. Read more
10. Photo Ops
The park’s website provides a useful list of best photo sites by time of day. Recommended for early morning shots: Moab Fault, the Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, the Great Wall, Turret Arch, the Spectacles, Double Arch, Cache Valley, Wolfe Ranch, Landscape Arch, and Double O Arch.
In the late afternoon or early evening, stop by Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers, Petrified Dunes, Balanced Rock, the Garden of Eden, North and South Window Arches, Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Skyline Arch, Devils Garden, and Tower Arch. Read more
Want to know more about Arches National Park? Check out the video below!
Did we miss anything in our Arches National Park camping guide? Let us know in the comments!
Still want more adventure? Check out our National Park Series and learn all about our country’s great parks.