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I know not everyone likes hiking. Not everyone can hike for one reason or another but you still want to visit the national parks and cross them off your bucket list. I know not everyone has time to hike when they visit national parks.
So that’s why I decided to share a non-hiking drive through guide to Arches, one of my favorite national parks. Even if you aren’t hiking through the park, it should still be on your Utah bucket list. It is, after all, one of the best stops on a Utah road trip.
Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
America the Beautiful – The national park pass is essential.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
Enterprise – This is my rental car recommendation.
See all my resources here.
While most of this doesn’t require hiking, there will be some walking involved, but it’s all under a mile and more like a stroll to get to the arches.
It’s all easy, nothing difficult or time-consuming. This guide will tell you all the thing to see in Arches National Park that require little to no hiking. Whether you’re visiting on a big road trip or a weekend trip, it will be a wonderful experience.
One thing to note is that none of these trails are paved so they will be sandy or on packed sand or rock. There are some sidewalks are parking areas, but no paved trails. Here are my other “things to do that aren’t hiking” guides.
National Park Goodies
- If you’re planning to visit three or more national parks within a year from your trip, definitely get the America the Beautiful pass. It will save you money in the long run if you’re going to more than three parks in a year. Buy the pass here.
- If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking on your trip, or even at home, check out AllTrails! This is my favorite app to find, keep track of, and track my hiking activity. And it’s FREE! Sign up here.
- This Ultimate National Park Planning Bundle is a must-have. You get two ebooks and a planner, saving 50% by getting them as a bundle! If you want all the details, this is the bundle for you. Buy the Ultimate bundle here.
- This National Park Planner (one of the ebooks from the bundle above) is perfect if you just want some guidance in your planning. Buy the planner here.
- Get yourself a National Park journal for all of the NPS sites (400+!) to keep track of your travels!
- Consider reading some of these books set in national parks before your big trip, on your adventure, or once you get home to take you back to the parks until next time.
Your first stop is going to be Park Avenue. This is a 2-mile round-trip hike or 1 mile and requires a second vehicle. I’ve never done the hike, but I love stopping here just to admire the view.
Standing at the top of the trailhead, it feels like you’re entering an old western movie. It can be kind of busy here, but it’s definitely worth the stop. I think it’s one of the best views in the park, of course, there are a lot of those, though.
If you want an easy hike and have two vehicles or someone to give you a ride back to your car, starting at the top parking area will be easier since you’ll be going downhill.
La Sal Mountain Viewpoint
Next up, and not too far from Park Avenue, is the La Sal Mountain Viewpoint. I actually didn’t ever stop here until my most recent visit.
We had the perfect view of the mountains to our right and the back side of Park Avenue along the road to our left.
I really liked this spot. I also realized I really like the view of the road winding along the back of Park Avenue. This would be a great spot to enjoy the sunset or some stargazing.
Garden of Eden
Right before the turnoff for the Windows, you’ll be able to stop and see Balanced Rock. I still haven’t stopped to take a picture of that yet, even after like, ten visits. But the first stop you’ll come to on The Windows turnoff is Garden of Eden.
We got lucky on our second visit there to see it with snow on the ground and a cool fog in the area. There isn’t really hiking here, but it’s a pretty cool area for pictures.
The Windows and Double Arch
Next up, at the end of this side road, is The Windows and Double Arch. These both require short hikes to see up close, but can also be seen from the parking lot. I would recommend at least walking to Double Arch, though.
It’s one of my favorites in the park. The hike through The Windows is one-mile round-trip and the hike to Double Arch is half a mile round-trip. Both are easy and relatively flat.
This area can get pretty crazy in the summer, so try and go early or in the evening, around dinner time. We weren’t able to even find a parking spot when we went last summer. If you can, go in the winter, do it. You will pretty much have it to yourself.
You can climb up into the bottom of Double Arch, but if it’s busy, just remember people are probably trying to take pictures of it without you in it.
Lower Delicate Arch View
Now you’ll be coming up to the Delicate Arch turnoff. There are two option here that are both super short walks.
The first is the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. From the parking lot, there is a little viewing area where you can see the arch, though it is kind of far away.
If you don’t mind hiking a little more, you can hike up the little trail. The hike is either 100 yards (to the first view) or .5 miles if you do the little hike. If you want to see Delicate Arch but don’t want to make the trek all the way to it, this is a great stop.
Wolfe Ranch Petroglyphs
Next, or vice versa, head to the Upper Delicate Arch trailhead. You passed it on your way to the lower parking area.
If you want to do the whole hike, you can, but it’s three miles round trip and is fairly strenuous, especially if you aren’t in shape.
But, you can still take the short walk to Wolfe Ranch and to the petroglyphs. These are in really good condition and super easy to get to. If you want to see more outside of the park, head down Potash Road.
Sand Dune Arch
The next two stops are right along the road and are fairly quick. The first is Sand Dune Arch. This is a short stroll into what almost feels like a slot canyon.
The whole trail is .3 miles. The arch is tucked away off on the right side. You’ll be walking in fairly deep sand to get to it, but it’s pretty easy.
If you are up for a little longer of a hike, head to Broken Arch (two miles round trip) from the same trailhead.
It’s not as busy as Sand Dune, but it’s pretty cool. If you go through the arch and look back where you came from, it’s a pretty nice view.
Skyline Arch is next and comes in at .4 miles round trip. I liked this one and the area around it. I saw somebody in the arch when we went, but we couldn’t figure out how they got up there.
I’m also just not sure you’re supposed to be there. This is a nice quick stop on your way to the Devil’s Garden area.
Pine Tree and Tunnel Arch
These two arches are the easiest to get to in the Devil’s Garden loop. It’s will be just under a mile round trip to see both arches.
If you’re going to one, it’s silly to not go to the other. Head out on the Devil’s Garden trail and take the first right you come to.
Go down the hill and there will be Tunnel Arch to your right and Pine Tree Arch to your left. I prefer pine tree. There are some pretty good views from down there. The hill is a little steep coming back up so keep that in mind.
If you’re really feeling ambitious, you could tack on a trip to Landscape Arch (the one on the outside of the map) which is 1.6 miles roundtrip from the parking area, but would only add a little distance with the other two.
This hike is a little hilly, but it isn’t super tough. In the winter, it can be snowy on the trail making it a little slippery, but it’s still worth it.
This is just a really cool area, but similar to The Windows, it gets super busy in the summer, like, can’t find a parking spot (again) busy.
Most people don’t do the whole Devil’s Garden hike, so if that’s what you’re there for, it might not be crazy on the trail.
A lot of people just go to these three arches though. This is also where the campground is if you happen to be camping in the park.
Sunset at The Windows
Finally, you’ll head back to The Windows area to watch the sunset over the formations and the La Sal Mountains.
We went to the rock just after the keyhole-shaped arch across from The Windows. No matter where you are here, it will be a pretty good view.
This is the perfect end to the day before heading back to Moab for dinner at The Spoke. That was my favorite restaurant in Moab. We ate there like, five times and I got the buffalo fries four times. They were delicious.
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
While actually hiking the Fiery Furnace isn’t too long, it’s not super easy but you can still stop at the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint to admire the fins and the (possibly) snow dusted La Sal Mountains.
This is also a great spot for sunset but no matter the time of day, it’s a great view and one of my personal favorites in the park.
Arches is an official International Dark Sky Park meaning it is one of the best places to go stargazing in Utah! I mean, most of southern Utah is great for it, but it’s official here.
Any of the pullouts would be good for it if you don’t want to hike in the dark and the best part is, the park is so close to Moab, you don’t even need to camp in the park to easily come back in the dark.
Arches offers a variety of ranger-led programs including a Fiery Furnace hike, patio talks at the visitor center, guided walks through The Windows, and evening programs at the Devils Garden amphitheater.
Availability depends on weather and time of year, some (like Fiery Furnace) require reservations but most don’t so you can just show up, which is nice if you’re not a big planner.
Stop at Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock is right along the main scenic drive making it nice and easy to stop at. You can see it as you drive by even. There is a super short trail to/around it.
If you want to do astrophotography with a unique foreground, this is a nice spot that doesn’t require much walking in the dark. Double Arch would be another good spot for this.
Biking is allowed on all paved roads (you’ll have to bring your own or rent one in town) if you want something nice and easy but if you want a mountain biking ride, the Salt Valley and Willow Springs Dirt Roads are better options.
If you want actual mountain biking trails, you’ll have to do that outside of the park, but fear not, Moab is one of the best places for mountain biking in the country so there are plenty of trails to choose from.
Arches National Park reservations
As of April 1, 2022, you now need a timed entry permit reservation from April 3 to October 3. You need this to enter the park between 6AM and 6PM. Your reservation allows entry in a two hour window. You can go in and out before and after that as the park is open 24/7.
Arches was facing serious overcrowding in the summer and were having to close the entrance by 10AM pretty frequently because parking would fill up. This new system is to help combat that.
The permit is $2 and you will also need to pay the park entrance fee when you get to the park. You can pay the fee or get the national park pass which covers all NPS site entry fees (but not camping, tours, parking, etc.)
If you can’t get a permit in advance, some are set aside for the next day (so April 2 entry permits would be available the evening of April 1). If you can’t get that either, your options are to skip it or enter the park before 6AM or after 6PM.
If you have a camping reservation, a Fiery Furnace permit, or a backcountry permit you do not need a timed entry permit. You also do not need the permit from October 4-April 2. You can find all the details here.
These are some of the best things to see in Arches National Park that aren’t hiking, but also happen to be very easy to access.
There are tons more, approximately 2,000 arches in the park, but if you’re short on time or just don’t hike, this is a great way to still experience the park and all it has to offer.
And if none of this sounds good or you aren’t able to do it, just driving through the park and stopping at the lookouts is worth it.
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Have you been to Arches? What is your favorite thing to do there?