When to visit
- Very Favourable
What to do
- Worth the detour
- Must see
This national park lives up to its name, with more than 2,000 natural arches between 90 cm and 91 m wide scattered across its 296 km2.
These amazing sculptures were formed by 100 million years of erosion by wind and ice, as well as water, extreme temperatures, and the underground movement of a thick layer of salt under the park's surface. The resulting landscapes are spectacular!
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Season: Open year-round, 24 hours a day.
Visitor Center: Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in April-September, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in October-November, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in low season. Closed on Christmas Day.
Entry fee: $30/vehicle including occupants. Valid 7 days. Purchase the America the Beautiful Pass for $80 if you plan to visit more than 2-3 parks
Peak period: March-October. Arrive before 8 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to avoid the traffic.
Shuttle service inside the park? No
On the left just after the Visitor Center, the Park Avenue Viewpoint looks out over a landscape characterized not by its arches but by a canyon whose thin sheer sandstone walls are strangely reminiscent of a row a skyscrapers, like those along New York's famous Park Avenue. This location has been used as a backdrop for scenes in the films "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Thelma and Louise", among others.
You will reach the Windows Section, considered by some to be the beating heart of the park, just after passing Balanced Rock on your right, where an immense rock sits surprisingly balanced atop its rocky base.
Windows Section contains spectacular scenery and easy trails to unique features such as Double Arch, two massive, soaring arches that are joined at one end.
Length (round-trip): 4.8 km
Duration (round-trip): 2-3 hours
Elevation gain: 146 metres
Delicate Arch is the symbol of the state of Utah and the most photographed arch in the park. The best time to hike out to this famous feature is at the end of the day, when the light is at its most beautiful, although it can be crowded at this time. The 4.8 km trail is long, without shade, and climbs 146 metres. Bring at least 1 litre of water per person and wear appropriate footwear.
If you are unable to do the hike, or you are travelling with young children, you can still admire the iconic arch from a distance at Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint or Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint .
Length (round-trip): 3.2 km loop
Duration (round-trip): 3 hours
The Fiery Furnace is a natural labyrinth of narrow passages between towering sandstone walls. It is a physically demanding hike with few trail markers. Visiting the Fiery Furnace requires physical stamina and agility and no fear of heights.
For these reasons, it is better to take a ranger-guided tour ($16 per adult). Tickets must be purchased online at www.recreation.gov at least 4 days (and up to 6 months) before the desired date. Note that this is an extremely popular hike and tickets are in high demand.
Do the hike in the afternoon if possible, with good hiking shoes or boots, plenty of water and a small daypack to hold your gear, leaving your hands free. It is also possible to go into the Fiery Furnace on your own, but you will need to obtain an individual hiking permit at the Visitor Center and demonstrate that you are familiar with the terrain.
Devils Garden is one of the premier locations in the park with its 64 arches, including the famous and fragile Landscape Arch which is 30 m high with a span of 90 m. It can be reached via an easy 2.6-kilometre (round trip) trail.
For those who want more, the main trail leading to Dark Angel is also classified as Easy and is only 4.5 km long out and back. The Primitive Loop Trail is another option that leads to 8 different arches, but is much more difficult with steep slopes and challenging terrain. Count on 3 to 5 hours. It is best to go to Devils Garden in the morning because it can get very hot (37o C on average in Moab in summer).
Dead Horse Point State Park
This gem of a park is a must-see if you have the time and opportunity to go there. The dramatic view from Dead Horse Point Overlook is one of the most photographed panoramas in the world and makes the trip worthwhile. You will see a vast mesa surrounded by deep canyons, overlooking a meander of the Colorado River (called the Colorado Gooseneck ) from a height of more than 600 m. Fans of "Thelma and Louise" will be interested to know that this is where the famous scene in which the fugitives drive their car off the edge of the cliff into a canyon was filmed.
According to legend, the park is so named because of its use as a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century, where a herd of wild mustangs once died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River 600 m below.
As this state park is not part of the national parks network, you will need to pay an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle (up to 8 occupants, valid for 3 days). The park is open every day of the year from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Visitor Center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November), Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
The park is 51.5 km from Moab (about 45 minutes) and right next to the Islands In The Sky section of Canyonlands National Park (10 min), so you can easily visit both parks in the same day. Try to go at sunset for stunning colourful vistas. To get there, drive 14.5 km northwest of Moab on the US 191, then take the Utah 313 southwest for 37 km.
Where to eat
- $ Inexpensive
- $$ Moderate
- $$$ Upscale
- $$$$ Fine dining
Quesadilla Mobilla ($)
The varied menu of the Quesadilla Mobilla food truck offers unique flavors, fresh vegetables, meats and spices, served in a white, whole wheat or gluten-free tortilla. A favorite with the locals, who come to eat well at a good price. Not to be missed!
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Miguel’s Baja Grill ($$)
Miguel's Baja Grill is a lively little Mexican restaurant. The owner, Miguel, is from Baja California, Mexico and is known for his traditional dishes made from scratch, such as homemade salsa, tamales, chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers), enchiladas, fajitas, lamb and fish tacos, and much more. We love this restaurant's warm and friendly atmosphere. A great spot with family or friends.
Open daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed for the winter from early December to mid-February.
Sunset Grill ($$-$$$)
The main reason to visit the Sunset Grill is for the amazing view of Moab and the surrounding area. The restaurant is perched on a hilltop in the former home of Moab's most famous millionaire. The food is standard fare and house specialties include the filet mignon, roast duck and prime rib.
Open Monday-Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Offers free shuttle service from any Moab lodging and back again during normal restaurant hours.
Desert Bistro ($$$-$$$$)
This is the type of gourmet restaurant that you would expect to find in New York! The seasonal menu features innovative southwestern cuisine, such as the honey-glazed rack of lamb with red kiwi, pear and jalapeño chutney, served on a sweet potato pavé. Appetizers include Gyozas (Japanese dumplings) filled with smoked tofu, Anasazi bean hummus & roasted garlic with chipotle pepper, soy & maple sauce. One of the best restaurants in Moab, year after year... Let yourself be amazed! Reservations recommended.
Open every evening from 5 p.m.
Where to sleep ?
- Very Favourable