Big Family Guide to Arches National Park with Kids – What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip Plus 12 Tips

    The Delicate Arch famously appears on Utah license plates, but did you know there are more than 2,000 nature sandstone arches in the park? You’ll also see massive fins, giant balanced rocks, monoliths, and pinnacles as your big family explores this grand park. Whether you enjoy the park from the viewpoints or get out to hike the many trails, your big family will enjoy a trip to Arches National Park.

    How to get to Arches National Park

    Located in southeast Utah, Arches National Park is 5 miles north of Moab off of Highway 191. The park has only one Entrance station.

    • 110 miles southwest of Grand Junction, Colorado, or about a 1 hour and 40-minute drive
    • 236 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah which is around a 3 hour and 43-minute drive
    • 360 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado, or about a 5 hour and 36-minute drive

    Best Things to Do in Arches National Park

    • Drive the 22-mile long scenic drive, stop at all the pull-outs, viewpoints, and overlooks
    • Hike one of the many trails in the park
    • Visit the Visitor Center – watch the orientation film, view the exhibits, and browse the sale items
    • What a full-immersion experience? Book a 4×4 Off-Roading Adventure Tour.

    Best Overlooks and Viewpoints

    • Garden of Eden Parking lot – enjoy 360 degrees of striking views
    • La Sal Mountains Viewpoint – Great views without any hiking!
    • Panorama Point– from this point you can see the La Sal Mountains, the Fiery Furnace, and Devils Garden. Check the NPS site for star parties from this location.
    • Park Avenue Viewpoint – the first viewpoint past the Entrance station. Parking fills up quickly.

    Hiking at Arches National Park

    With three categories of hikes at Arches, you’ll easily find several hikes that will suit your big family’s ability and skill level. For families with smaller kids, we recommend any of the hikes listed as Easy although most are not stroller friendly.

    Easy Hikes at Arches to do with Kids

    • Balanced Rock, 0.3 mile round trip. A short, stroller-friendly trail.
    FUN FACT: Scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were shot here.
    • Double Arch, 0.5 mile round trip. Located next to The Windows, Double Arch is the second longest and tallest arch in the park.
    • The Windows, 1.0 mile round trip. View three arches, North and South Windows, and Turret Arch.
    • Delicate Arch Lower Viewpoint, 300 feet. You’ll catch a glimpse of the arch in the distance from this viewpoint, This picture has zero zoom to give you an idea how far away it is.
    • Delicate Arch Upper Viewpoint, 0.5 miles. This is as close as you can get from a parking lot. To see the Arch up close, you’ll have to hike the Delicate Arch trail.
    • Sand Dune Arch, 0.3 miles round trip. An easy jaunt from the parking lot, Sand Dune Arch lives up to its name.
    • Broken Arch, 1.3 mile or 1.5 mile loop if you include Sand Dune Arch
    • Tapestry Arch, 2.7 mile loop if you include Sand Dune and Broken Arches
    • Skyline Arch, 0.4 miles round trip. Visible from the road, you’ll enjoy the easy walk to get a closer view.
    I see two elephant heads connected at their trunks. How about you?
    • Landscape Arch, 1.6 miles round trip. You’ll find this hike to be easy with minimal elevation gain.

    Moderate hikes at Arches

    • Delicate Arch, 3.0 miles. Some might consider this hike rated as strenuous as most of the hike is straight uphill Slickrock with little to no shade. To be honest, I whined and complained the last third up to the Arch. The last 40 feet of the hike is a narrow ledge that hugs a rock wall with steep drop-offs. Look for the Twisted Doughnut Arch on your right before going around the last bend. The opening of the arch is 45 feet high and 33 feet wide. Plan on spending 3 hours to cover this hike.
    • Park Avenue, 1.0 mile one way. Stroll through soaring sandstone formations that have been compared to the skyscrapers of New York City. You don’t have to hike the whole way to enjoy the spectacular view.

    Strenuous hikes at Arches

    • Double O Arch, 4.2 miles
    • Fiery Furnace, varies, ranger-guided, reservation needed
    • Devil’s Garden Trails, 7.2 miles
    • Tower Arch, 3.4 miles
    • Primitive trail from Double O Arch to Landscape Arch, 2.2 mile

    How Many Days Do You Need at Arches National Park?

    Depending on how much your big family likes to hike, you could cover the park in one day. I suggest covering it in two days, the day of arrival in the late afternoon/early evening (about a 3-4 hour visit) and most of the next day (about a 6 hour visit).

    One Day Itinerary

    To see most of the park in one day, keep your schedule limited to the short, easy hikes and viewing as many overlooks and viewpoints that you can squeeze in. I suggest arriving early and driving to the furthest point, Devils Garden Trailhead first.

    • Drive to the Devils Garden Trail head and hike to Landscape Arch
    • Hike Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch
    • Stop at Fiery Furnace Viewpoint and Salt Valley Overlook
    • View Delicate Arch from Upper and Lower Viewpoints
    • Drive to The Windows Section to view North and South Window, and Double Arch
    • Stop at the Garden of Eden parking lot for 360 degree views
    • Drive to the Petrified Dunes Viewpoint
    • Visit the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
    • Stop at the Visitor Center to become a Junior Ranger. Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm.

    Two Day Itinerary

    If you schedule two days, you can include one of the moderate or strenuous hikes such as Delicate Arch. For a two-day itinerary, include everything from day one and on the second day add the following activities.

    • Arrive early and drive straight to Wolf Ranch parking lot to hike Delicate Arch. This hike will take around 3 hours.
    • Visit the Visitor Center during peak afternoon to cool off and relax during the orientation film
    • Hike Park Avenue

    Entrance Fees for Arches National Park

    We highly recommend buying an America the Beautiful pass for $80. The pass is good for one calendar year and is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Having a pass will allow you to pop in for a few hours in the evening and again the next morning.

    If you have a 4th grader, check out the FREE Annual 4th Grade pass which is good for the duration of the school year through the following summer (September-August).

    Current U.S. military members and their dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force, as well as Reserve and National Guard members, qualify for a free annual pass.

    Can You see Arches and Canyonlands in One Day?

    It is possible to see Arches and Canyonlands in one day, although I don’t recommend it. However, if your family is not into hiking or has mobility limitations, there are plenty of gorgeous outlooks, viewpoints, parking lots, and pull-outs to view the beauty of both parks in one day. You can cover Arches in about three hours by driving the Scenic Drive and scheduling a 10-minute stop at each viewpoint.

    Best Time to Visit Arches National Park

    Mid-May is a great time to visit. Although I know it’s hard to travel with kids in mid-May, if your crew is college-aged or more, May is a great time to visit. The temperature is about perfect.

    You can plan a trip any month of the year. However, June, July, and August are the hottest months with temperatures near 100 degrees. Visits during the winter months will find cooler temperatures and a chance of snow in December.

    12 Tips for Visiting

    • If you arrive in Moab mid-day, split your Arches National Park visit into two days. Complete some of the easy hikes in the late afternoon and evening of the first day and save one of the longer hikes such as Delicate Arch for the next morning. We were able to hike Skyline Arch and Landscape Arch the first evening we were in Moab.
    • Visit early. Delicate Arch/Wolfe Ranch parking lot fills up fast. During our visit, some people parked at the Lower Delicate viewpoint parking lot and walked the mile to the Delicate Arch trailhead.
    • Follow Arches National Park on Twitter. They tweet when they have to close the park due to it being full. Know that arriving at the park later than 9:30 is chancing it being closed until crowds go down.
    • There will be lines to enter the park. When we visited at 4 pm, we had a 30-minute wait. The next day we arrived at 8 am and had a 40-minute wait in line. There are no restrooms available while you wait.
    • If you have stroller-aged or young walkers, we recommend using a baby/toddler carrier as most hikes are not stroller friendly.
    • Learn about the park by becoming a Junior Ranger at the Visitor Center.
    • Have comfortable hiking gear. Many trails were sandy, high-top hiking boots are recommended. Hats and sunscreen to protect from the sun are also needed.
    • Stay on the trails to help protect desert life. Desert soils or cryptobiotic soil have living organisms that bind loose, fragile soils together to support plant and animal life. Disrupting the soil can cause a setback of 50-200 years.
    • Avoid hiking the longer trails such as Arches in the heat of the day in July and August when temperatures can reach 100 degrees.
    • Don’t miss the Ute Petroglyphs near Wolf Ranch.
    • Check for sunrise times and head to the park 30-45 minutes before. Since the park is open 24 hours, your crew can enjoy the light crowds and beautiful sunrise at your favorite arch. Don’t forget to add the drive time from the Entrance Station. Entrance to Delicate Arch Trailhead is 30-35 minutes of drive time.
    • Pack plenty of water and snacks and take many breaks to drink and eat.

    Where to Stay

    Hotels near Arches National Park

    Check out our list of hotels in Moab for big families. During this visit, we stayed at the Comfort Suites.

    Camping and RVing near Arches National Park

    Inside the park, you can make camping reservations at the Devils Garden Campground. The site contains 51 campsites. Sites range in length from 20 to 40 feet and allow Trailers and RVs less than 40 feet.

    Moab Vacation Rentals

    If you don’t mind staying a little further out or if you plan on staying three or more days in the Moab area, a vacation rental can make a great base for your vacation.

    You might also like:

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    Zion National Park Guide with Kids – Where to Hike and 10 Tips for Visiting + Map

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    Theresa Jorgensen

    Theresa is the mother of four including twins. She is the owner of SixSuitcaseTravel, a travel site for big families of 5, 6, 7, 8. She enjoys helping other big families build life-long travel memories. Her family's travel bucket list includes Yellowstone, London, and anywhere in the Caribbean.