Many times it seems that the most striking natural beauty is found only at the summit of a steep mountain, the bottom of a deep canyon, or at the end of a rugged hiking trail. Not so at Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah. Although trails here can get you up close and personal to the prominent sandstone spans, many of the most amazing rock features are seen right from the park’s 18-mile paved road. So if you’re short on time, or prefer being a “windshield tourist,” you can simply pull over, snap a photo, and continue driving to the next scenic spot. Whether you have two hours or two days to explore Arches National Park, this oversized rock garden in southeast Utah is filled with enough fins, spires, hoodoos, towers, arches, windows, and other sculpted features to keep your jaw dropping all day.
The best “don’t miss” stops within the park include Balanced Rock, the Windows, Delicate Arch, and Devils Garden (listed nearest to farthest away from the park entrance and visitor center). No matter how short your visit, drive at least as far as the Windows section. Parking lots at these popular destinations can overflow during peak season, so you may have to visit them in a different order.
Scenic photo opportunities start immediately inside the park, so keep your camera handy. Just a couple of miles from the entrance and visitor center (stop here first for an overview of the park) are viewpoints for Park Avenue, Courthouse Towers, Three Gossips, and several other picturesque rock creations. Early explorers often named these remarkable formations after things or places from “back home.” For example, an early traveler from the Big Apple thought the skyscraper-like monoliths looked like New York’s Park Avenue, hence the name. If some of this scenery seems familiar, it could be that you recognize it from Hollywood movies such as Ten Who Dared, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Thelma and Louise and others.
Check back next week for part 2…
IF YOU GO
Arches National Park Visitor Information (435) 719-2299
- Vehicle fee of $10 covers all occupants of a vehicle (good for 7 days)
- Arches National Park is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. Visitor Center is open daily (except December 25) from 7:30 am – 6:30 mid-March through October and 8:00 am – 4:30 pm November through mid-March.
Cell phone coverage is poor to nonexistent throughout Arches National Park
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com