Arches 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
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 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.
Goblin Valley State Park
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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
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.
Balanced Rock – Easy
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
The Gossip Ladies – View Point
A 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…
Tips & Advice:
- 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:
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…
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!
Amazing pictures and of course, from amazing places! You did a nice job capturing what you did and it will be helpful for folks who are visiting these places later, like me. Thank you!
You’re welcome! Thank you for your kind words!
fifi + hop
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
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!!
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
I’m so glad you said that because I have a few more to share over the next few weeks! 😘
Is it bad that I’ve just realized I’ve never even heard of this NP? So glad you introduced me! Pinned! #FarawayFiles
Not at all, there are SO many! But now you have so it’s all good!! Xx
What a shame your time at Arches was limited. We went there a few years ago and spent the whole day. We just loved it.
Yes, we should definitely try to get back there, though we didn’t feel cheated. Maybe next time we will go when it’s about cooler!
The pictures are amazing. I cannot stop looking at the title picture where it looks like you have a direct connection with the clouds and sky! We will visit Arches next year and I cannot wait. #weeklypostcard
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!
Gorgeous photos. I was at Zion and Bryce in May; will definitely have to get out to Arches sometime. Maybe next year! #TheWeeklyPostcard
How was the weather in May? I’d like to go back and visit sometime, and was thinking late spring or late autumn might be good times.
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.
Oh, that’s good to know as we have lots of allergies in our family!
Anisa & Katherine (@2travelingtxns)
Your photos are amazing! Too bad it was so hot on your trip, but still sounds like you made the most of things. And glad to know the drive is so crazy, so I can mentally prepare. I would love to visit all these parks one day! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
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.
we would also really enjoy arches NP. We have been to Zion and didn’t have enough time to get to arches NP 🙁
It’s definitely an investment in time when you include Arches, but Bryce is close to Zion and very worth a visit!
Another place to add to my bucket list! Your kids are so cute! You are brave to be out and about when it’s 104!
Thank you! Brave is one way to put it! ha ha! They were good sports anyway!
Mapping The Map
Nice place! We are back from Namibia and this place slightly reminds us of Spitzkoppe, where you can also find a rock arch. Would love to visit Utah someday! Thanks for sharing in the #WeeklyPostcard.
I’m not sure I will ever have a chance to make it to Namibia, which looks amazing, so it’s nice to know that my visit to Arches shares some similarities!!
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
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!
Michelle | michwanderlust
Utah is definitely home to some of the most impressive landscapes I’ve seen! It looks very hot and dry – not my favourite climate, but it sure is stunning. Would definitely love to try the hikes you described. Thanks for sharing!
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!
Balanced Rock is amazing how does it stay up there. #theweeklypostcard
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.
Balanced Rock looks so amazing how does it stay up there. #theweeklypostcard
Bryna | Dotted Line Travels
So pretty! I’d love to see the pictographs at Capital Reef National Park and the Windows walk seems like it would be easy but rewarding at the same time.
Exactly why we loved the Windows! Easy but big rewards!!
Great tips!! I’m on a mission to see all the national parks in the US! I was just reading last night that Arches is a great WINTER drive. Maybe more tolerable than 104? Huh??
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
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
It was pretty spectacular! Makes you realize how amazing this place (earth) really is! Ha ha! I know how I felt, so I’m betting it was pretty shocking!
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
Arches was pretty far out of the way, in hindsight I may not have included it.
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
Even after the harrowing drive… I was so glad to have visited. Even the litte bit we saw was amazing!
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
Had I been traveling in a different group I would definitely made it to Delicate Arch… I’ll just have to go back! The pizza was the icing on the cake! LOL!
Agness of aTukTuk
The Arches National Park seems so outstanding and remarkable. It is a perfect destination for hiking! Is one day enough to explore it, Hilary?
If you get up early one day would work, but if you’re an avid hiker I’d give yourself two days! It was an amazing place, so unique like being on another planet!
Fantastic writing pal 🙂 love it! I too have Just trekked arches and just put together my blog! Would love if you would read it, maybe do a colab? I have a bunch of trail tales be sure to check them out! But i just cant get over how good yours are!!! Haha any tips? Oh yeah and be sure to help a fellow out with a follow if you enjoyed any readings 😛
Thank you so much! I’ll take a look at your blog for sure!
I would sooo love to go here! Thanks for sharing! Some day I’ll make the trip!
It was a beautiful and unique destination!