Road Trip to Arches National Park

Family Friendly Arches National Park #windowarchhikeArches National Park, one of many National Parks we visited in Utah, was also the furthest and most challenging drive of our two week road trip. That was partly due to our decision to take Scenic Byway 12 from Bryce Canyon to Moab, home of Arches National Park. The drive proved to be more of an adventure than I planned on, and to say that I was nervous while driving on the extremely steep and winding road would be the understatement of the century. Petrified would probably be a more accurate description.

 

Utah has some of the most diverse landscape I’ve ever seen, and once I was able to look up again, I was amazed at all the different types of terain we drove through.

 

The Road to Arches National Park

Goblin State Park Utah #goblinstatepark
Goblins standing sentry at Goblin State Park

Although the road to Arches felt long, we made stops at both Capital Reef National Park, and Goblin Valley State Park, which helped to break up the very curvy drive. Temperatures were well over 100 degrees, so our visits were on the quick side.

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park #capitalreefnationalparkCapital Reef National Park is one of Utah’s Mighty 5, however it is the most underrated of all the parks. Many people I spoke with consider it their favorite of all the parks, they love having the place all to themselves.

 

The Capital Reef Visitor Center is located along HWY Route 24, and after a quick look around we drove a short distance down the road to see the Freemont Indian Pictographs, which date back to between 700 AD – 1300 AD. Parking and a convient walking path make viewing the pictographs a very family friendly activity.

Capital Reef National Reef #Pictographs

 

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin State Park #goblinstatepark

Recommended by a friend we made stopping at Goblin Valley State Park a priority, however in hindsight I realized I should have timed this visit for either sunrise or sunset. Because our visit took place mid-day, temperatures were extremely high, there was no shade and the harsh lighting meant a very abbreviated visit.

Goblin State Park #goblinstatepark

It was sot hot, my boys wouldn’t leave the car’s airconditioning, but I was here and didn’t want to pass up an oppotunity to walk among the hoodoos or “goblins”, which are the main attraction at Goblin State Park.

 

Arches National Park

Arches National Park #turretarch
The Turret Arch

Arches National Park is home to the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. The most famous of which is the Delicate Arch, which also happens to be on the Utah State Liscense Plate.

Arches National Park #utahliscenseplate
This liscense plate has been retired and was for sale in a gift shop.

I admit I underestimated  the time it would take to drive to Arches so our time in the park was limited. We would just be getting a taste of what this park had to offer. For example this Utah liscense plate was the only way I would be seeing the famous Delicate Arch.

Visitor Center

 

As always our first stop was the visitor center. We watched a movie about the Park’s unique landscape, viewed interactive exhibits, consulted with the rangers, and of course vistied the gift shop!

Arches National Park Utah #windowarchhike
The Window Arches from a distance

Knowing that our group wasn’t up for moderate or difficult hiking in the extreme heat we chose to view the park via two easier walks, and the many pull ins along the Park’s main road.

The Windows – Easy

Arches National Park Utah #thewindowsarch

This wasn’t our first stop within the park, but it was my favorite. A quick and relatively flat walk, and we were able to explore The Windows and see amazing views without too much effort. We all loved this walk, and sitting under the shade of the giant Window Arches helped us get a feel for just how massive these formations really are. This is perfect walk if you have limited time in the Park.

Arches National Park Utah #windowsarches
View from The Windows

 

 

Balanced Rock – Easy

Arches National Park Utah #balancedrock

Balanced Rock, as you can see isn’t an arch, but it certainly is impressive. It’s hard to get a sense of scale when looking at photos, but if you look closely you’ll see tiny people among the rocks. The Rock can easily be seen from the parking area or there is a short walk around as well.

 

The Courthouse View Point

Arches National Park Utah #courthouseview

 

The Gossip Ladies – View Point

Arches National Park Utah #gossipladies

Zax’s Pizza

Arches National Park Utah #zaxspizzaA casual pizza restaurant with unique and delicious toppings and great service, Zax’s wasn’t the only meal we ate while in Moab, but it was our favorite! Don’t just take my word for it, Zax’s came highly recommended by just about every person I spoke to when discussing our trip to Moab, and now I’ve joined the club!  I wish my photos were better, but I was too busy eating to take many pictures…

Arches National Park Utah #zaxspizza
The Honey Chicken Pizza was SO good!

Tips & Advice:

Arches National Park Utah #southwindow

  • There wasn’t much shade and it was 104 during our visit. Bring water! Yes, I know I should be wearing a hat.
  • Be aware and heed all signs. People do die here, often people who don’t heed signs.
  • Keep in mind that many of the more famous hikes are moderate to difficult for example Delicate Arch is considered difficult.
  • Many of the park’s sights can be seen from the car, and or convenient lookout points.
  • Automobile Lines to get into Arches National Park can be long, so plan to arrive early if possible. You’ll beat the lines and the heat!
  • Once you leave the Visitor Center there are no facilities of any kind inside the park.

Pin for later:

Family Activities Arches National Park #archesnationalpark  Capital Reef National Park #capitalreef  Goblin Valley State Park #goblinvalley 

46 thoughts on “Road Trip to Arches National Park

  1. Yikes – 104 degrees, I’m hyperventilating just thinking about that!! It looks incredible though, the colours and those rock formations are stunning, love the names too. You did well on that drive too Hilary – not sure I would be so brave…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The colors were so beautiful, especially on blue sky days! It was SOOO hot! Summer was our only option, school and all that, but if I could have gone in spring or fall I would have enjoyed it even more!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The landscape is just so incredible. I could totally relate to the part about the driving…we did some drives in Mallorca with major drop-offs and I had to hide my head. At one point we were stuck in traffic on a hair pin turn and I thought I was going to have a panic attack! #farawayfiles

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    1. I’m simultaneously happy to know that someone understands and sorry that you had to feel that way. It’s so stressful! I try to be rational but have no control over my fear on steep mountain roads. It only seems to get worse as I get older. Ugh! Yes! The landscape was amazing, so at least there was that!!

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  3. Oh wow! I think I will never get tired of seeing photos of the National Parks (and other areas) in Utah. You capture so many beautiful places. Love the idea of doing a good, long road trip with the kids. #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! The clouds came and went while we were there creating some pretty neat backdrops for the photos! Hopefully it won’t be over 100 degrees when you go, but it was still an amazing place!

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      1. We were there the second weekend and the weather was perfect. The cottonwood trees were shedding (?) so my allergies were violently flared up, though. Next time I will know to come armed with allergy meds.

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    1. Thank you! I feel like the scenery is so incredible all you have to do is point and you’ll get a great photo! Byway 12 is crazy, but there are other routes, which are less so, and will probably get you there much faster.

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  4. We were in Utah few month ago, but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go to Archers. Its still on our bucket list 🙂 I love you post and the photos are awesome. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Thank you so much! There is so much to see in Utah, and Arches is pretty far from the other attractions, so it makes sense that you might not make it there… If you do get a chance to go back it was definitely a beautiful and unique place!

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    1. I have to agree with you there! Hot and dry isn’t my favorite climate either, but school breaks dictate our vacation schedule. I’d have loved to see some of these places with a light dusting of snow!

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    1. It was amazing! Apparently the fact that it eroded away like that had to do with two different types of rock… the one next to it fell off a few years ago so it’s fairly precarious.

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  5. Wow, those rocks really do look like ladies having a gossip! How funny! I still can’t get over all these rock formations and I would absolutely have been with you, getting out of the cool car to wander around those goblins. Another great share for #farawayfiles

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  6. I love the goblins! Amazing photos as always Hilary. The landscapes are so raw and unique although they do remind me a little of western Australia and the Kimberly at times. Imagine the reactions of the first white people from Europe when they saw this?! Love to see these parks for myself one day. Thanks for joining #farawayfiles

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  7. I also loved our Utah-Arizona road trip but we only had a week and did not make it to Moab/Arches. Everywhere we looked out the window on that trip was spectacular. I still have to put together an article about our journey

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  8. So maybe you didn’t see as much of Arches, but you did see some parks that most don’t. Arches is my favorite, so I’m happy you made it all the way there! The hike to Delicate Arch is not for the faint of heart and our littles were too little to attempt it, but we loved Landscape Arch further in towards the back of the park. Beautiful pics Hilary! #FarawayFiles

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  9. What fantastic views, and what an amazing road trip! That’s one of our favorite corners of the world, thanks to the stunning scenery. It’s too bad you didn’t get to see Delicate Arch. I know many people are put off because it’s a long way to Arches, and then some serious hiking for some of the more famous sites. But you can see so much on fairly easy walks. And then topping it off with pizza? We like your style! 😉 #TheWeeklyPostcard

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