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Arches National Park is a photographer’s dream! The scenery is so stunning with the incredible landscape of arches, dramatic cliffs walls, amazing rock formations, and the picturesque  La Sal Mountains in the distance. If you love taking photos, you will not be able to stop! Here are the best photography locations in Arches National Park.

Are you planning a trip to Arches? The best way to get started exploring Arches National Park is to take the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park, which winds around the park and takes you to some of the best viewpoints.

If you are short on time then check out 8 Things You Can’t-Miss on First Visit to Arches National Park which ticks off all the major attractions in Arches. If you are planning a trip to Arches National Park, then do not miss a visit to Canyonlands National Park. It is an awesome place to explore! Check out my posts:

One Day in Island in the Sky at Canyonlands National Park

One Day in The Needles at Canyonlands National Park (8 Things You Can’t Miss)

Did you know that right in-between Arches and Canyonlands is Dead Horse Point State Park? It is a narrow mesa with 2,000 feet high cliffs and Green and Colorado Rivers below it. Don’t miss it! The views at this place are off the charts.

How to Spend One Day at Dead Horse State Park, Utah

Lastly, are you thinking of visiting any other Utah National Parks? How about getting inspired by this Epic 7-Day Road Trip Through Utah National Parks?

Now, with no further delay, here are 7 best photography locations in Arches National Park:

Arches National Park At-A-Glance

  • What is Arches National Park Famous For

Arches National Park is of course famous for its arches. It has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world. There are over 2,000 documented arches in the park, plus pinnacles, balanced rocks, fins, and other geologic formations.

  • What Are Some Cool Facts About Arches National Park

The entire park used to be underwater! What is now a dry seabed was once a shallow inland sea. When the seawater retreated, it left behind sand that the wind formed into dunes. Those dunes were petrified or turned into the rock that forms the park we know today.

Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in the park and the world. It is a 60-foot-tall freestanding natural arch. The arch is depicted on Utah license plates and a postage stamp commemorating Utah’s centennial anniversary of admission to the Union in 1996. The Olympic torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics passed through the arch.

  • When Is the Best Time to Visit Arches

Hands down, the best time to visit Arches National Park is during the spring or fall months (April or May, and October). The temperatures are mild, the crowds are low, and you can find some solitude in the park, and the weather is just perfect to do some hiking. Early spring (March), or late fall (November) are not bad either, although, be prepared for some chilly conditions (wear lots of layers) and be prepared for even some snow. Summer is my least favorite time to visit Arches. It is hot with temperatures well into the 100’s F making it rather uncomfortable to explore the park. Not only the temperatures are high, but the crowds are at their highest levels as well. Winters can be cold with freezing temperatures and snow, However, I visited Arches in winter, and hands down, it looks spectacular with a little snow cover.

  • How to Get to Arches National Park

Most people coming to Arches fly into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) (230 miles from the park entrance) and then, rent a car and drive. From my personal experience, Salt Lake City International Airport has the least expensive flights.

  • How to Get a Timed Entry Ticketed to Arches 

A visit to Arches National Park involves a bit of advance planning if you are visiting between the months of April and October.

From April 3 to October 3 Arches National Park implements a timed-entry system to help manage traffic and improve visitor experiences. It is very important that you reserve your timed-entry ticket as soon as it becomes available!

The park releases tickets first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov three (3) months in advance in monthly blocks. A limited number of tickets is available for purchase one day prior to entry at 6 pm MDT through Recreation.gov.

Once you get your ticket print it, download it, or take a screenshot of it (cell phone service is limited inside the park). Your Timed-Entry Ticket ($2 processing fee), photo ID, and park entrance pass or America the Beautiful Pass are required to enter the park.

  • How to Get Around in Arches National Park 

There is no shuttle service at Arches National Park. The only way to get around the park is by having your own vehicle.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Visit Arches National Park

It costs $30 per vehicle, to enter Arches National Park. The entrance pass is good for 7 consecutive days. However, my recommendation is to get America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites!

  • Where to Sleep and Eat When Visiting Arches National Park

The best place to stay when you are visiting Arches is Moab, UT. Here are some places that I stay at whenever I am in Moab, UT, and visiting Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. They are not anything fancy, but all of them have clean rooms and comfortable beds.

My first choice is La Quinta by Wyndham Moab. I stayed at this place a few times and I have no complaints. It is clean and well managed, and it is conveniently located. If La Quinta is all booked, then my recommendation is to try Mainstay Suites Moab.

The last time that I visited Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, I stayed at Element Moab, and I liked it a lot. It is modern, yet simple, and it has a full kitchen, which is very convenient.

There are lots of dining options in Moab, UT.

If you like pasta or pizza then head to Pasta Jay’s. It is a busy place, however, service is fast. Their pasta and all the sauces are very good. However, my vote is for the thin crust pizza.

Moab Diner is nothing fancy or gourmet, however, it is just good comfort food at a very reasonable price. Don’t miss their milkshakes. They know what they are doing!

I like good pizza, so Antica Forma is my place to go to. Their pizza menu is extensive! Plus, if you like Italian food, then there are lots of choices. What you simply cannot miss is their homemade mozzarella. It is delicious. For dessert try their tiramisu.

7 Best Photography Locations in Arches National Park

NUMBER 1

Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail

Hands down, Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail are my favorite photography location in Arches National Park. The view of the canyon surrounded by jagged walls is absolutely stunning.

Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail are located about 2.5 miles north of the Visitor Center on Arches Scenic Drive.

The Three Gossips, the Courthouse Towers, Queen Nefertiti and Queen Victoria Rock, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel are all visible from the viewpoint. You will be able to take awesome photos right from the viewpoint.

However, it makes a big difference if you take the trail down to the canyon and photograph these huge formations up close. Park Avenue Trail is a 1-mile one-way easy/moderate trail with a steep decline into the canyon. Once you are at the bottom of the canyon, the trail levels off. However, you will have a fairly strenuous climb on the way back.

Park Avenue Viewpoint in Arches

Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Park Avenue is a great place to photograph at any time of the day, however, my recommendation is to get there in the early to mid-afternoon when the setting sun lights up the canyon and brings out the colors of red and orange.

Best Photography Locations in Arches

Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

NUMBER 2

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is one of the most famous geologic features in the world. It has become the symbol of Utah appearing on many of its license plates.

There are two options to photograph it: you can either take a Delicate Arch Trail (3 miles roundtrip) or you can go to Upper or Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint (at the end of the road).

Honestly, nothing beats hiking to Delicate Arch and photographing Delicate Arch from the trail and then up close.

To get to Delicate Arch Trailhead follow Arches Scenic Drive. At 9.2 miles from the park entrance, you will get to a junction in the road. Turn right at the junction and follow the signs for Delicate Arch Trail.

The trail to Delicate Arch is fairly strenuous with an elevation gain of 480 feet. For the first half-mile, it is a well-defined trail. Then, it starts to climb at a sharp incline before it levels off toward the top. Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail traverses a narrow rock ledge for about 200 yards. Once you are past this last section, you will have the most stunning view of Delicate Arch standing alone in a large natural sandstone bowl at the top of one of the park’s famous fins against the multitude of horizontal planes around it.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Delicate Arch is best photographed during the Golden Hour, when the daylight is redder and softer.

With that being the case, you will have plenty of company at this popular spot before and at sunset. So, arrive early and secure the best place. Make sure to hang around after the sunset for the Blue Hour, when the sun is significantly below the horizon and the remaining sunlight takes on a blue color.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Delicate Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Best Photography Locations in Arches

Delicate Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

NUMBER 3

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint is another one of my favorite photography locations in Arches National Park.

Located on Scenic Drive in Arches, just past Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail, Courthouse Towers Viewpoint is the best photo spot to not only photograph the massive Courthouse Towers jutting out of the desert and flanking the western side of Park Avenue, but also several other famous rock formations like Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel.

While Park Avenue is the best to photograph in mid-morning or mid-afternoon, Courthouse Towers, Three Gossips, and surrounding rock formations are the best to photograph shortly after sunrise. They are all in an open area and the first sun rays beautifully illuminate the yellow and orange colors of these rock formations.

Best Photography Locations in Arches

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Best Photography Locations in Arches

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint in Arches

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

NUMBER 4

Balanced Rock Viewpoint and Trail

Balanced Rock is another famous rock formation in Arches National Park that is very popular to photograph.

The viewpoint and trail are located on Arches Scenic Drive right before the junction leading to the Windows Section.

First of all, it is difficult to capture a good image that shows how precariously balanced this rock is. So, give yourself some time to catch the right angle. Second, hike a short trail that circles the base of the rock. It will provide different views of Balanced Rock.

The best time to photograph Balanced Rock is at sunset when the setting sun brings out all the colors.

Balanced Rock in Arches National Park

Balanced Rock Viewpoint / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

NUMBER 5

Windows Section

The Windows Section in Arches National Park has several arches that you can photograph from different angles and distances.

To get to the Windows Section, follow Arches Scenic Drive and when you get to the junction right past Balanced Rock turn right. Next, follow the road to the end. Here, you will have several trailheads leading to Double Arch, South and North Windows, and Turret Arch.

There is no doubt that the most famous composition of arches is the Turret Arch framed by the North Window. The best time to photograph Turret Arch framed by the North Window is early in the morning. First of all, take the trail leading to the North Window and scramble through the window to a small section located on the left-hand side. From this small perch, you will be able to photograph Turret Arch beautifully framed by the North Window.

Also, if you want to take some great photos of Turret Arch, then take the short trail that runs on the western side of Turret Arch. The best time to photograph Turret Arch from this location is late in the afternoon.

Turret Arch in Arches National Park

Windows Section / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Another great photo that you can capture is of both the North and South Windows inside the single fin. The best way to do it is to take the primitive trail that runs in the back of the two windows.

North and South Window in Arches National Park

Windows Section / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Finally, make your way to Double Arch. It is one of the most dramatic arch formations in Arches National Park. The best time to photograph Double Arch is probably in the early to mid-morning.

Double Arch in Arches National Park

Windows Section / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

NUMBER 6

Devils Garden Trail

At the end of Scenic Drive in Arches National Park are the Devils Garden parking lot and the trailhead that leads to Devils Garden Trail, the most spectacular hike in Arches National Park.

The entire Devils Garden Trail is 7.2 miles long. However, if you are not up to hiking the entire trail, it can be broken down into more manageable sections. If you can only do one section, then hands down, hike to Landscape Arch. It is one of the most spectacular arches in the park.

It is about 1.9 miles from the trailhead before you will reach Landscape Arch and it should take you about 50 minutes. It is a relatively flat section of Devils Garden Trail.

Landscape Arch is 290 feet long and it is believed to be the longest natural rock span in the world.

The best time to photograph Landscape Arch is in the morning. There are no shadows and the arch is pretty much in full sun. However, my favorite time to photograph Landscape Arch is at or right after sunrise when the sun rays illuminate the arch.

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park

Landscape Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Best Photography Locations in Arches

Landscape Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Once you reach Landscape Arch, the Devils Garden Trail becomes a bit more difficult. You will have to do some rock scrambling, and pass by some narrow ledges.

In 4.1 miles, you will reach another stunning arch, Double O Arch. It’s a great location to photograph in the early morning as well as late afternoon since both sides of Double O arch are accessible.

Double O Arch in Arches National Park

Double O Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

NUMBER 7

Sand Dune Arch Trail

Sand Dune Arch is located right before Devils Garden Trail and can be accessed from either Sand Dune Arch Trailhead or the Devils Garden Campground.

The arch is not easy to photograph because it sits in the shade for most of the day. However, it is a pretty stunning location to photograph since the arch is flanked by two large sandstone fins and surrounded by sand at its base.

Right next to Sand Dune Arch is Broken Arch. It is not as photogenic as Sand Dune Arch, but still worth checking out.

Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park

Sand Dune Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

Sand Dune Arch

Landscape Arch / Best Photography Locations in Arches 

Best Photo Spots in Arches

How to Take the Best Photos at Sunrise or Sunset in Arches National Park

Sunrise is a great time to photograph in Arches National Park. However, sunsets can be as spectacular!

Actually, to be specific, the best light is about 15-30 minutes before sunrise or 10-15 minutes after sunset. It is the proverbial “golden hour” during which the daylight is softer and redder. Needless to say, it is the time during which the arches start to glow.

So how do get the best photos of the stunning rock formations at sunrise or sunset in Arches National Park? Here are some recommendations:

  •  Choose a Low to Mid-Range ISO

When shooting a sunrise or sunset, you’ll generally want to use a low to mid-range ISO setting, like 200, 400, or 800.

During sunrise or sunset, there’s less available light than in the middle of the day, so going with one of these ISO settings rather than the lowest possible (which is typically 100 on most cameras) will give you some leeway when choosing your aperture and shutter speed while still providing a high-quality image.

  • Choose a High Aperture

Most people will choose to use a high aperture, such as f/11, f/16, or higher when taking sunset photos. This allows for greater depth of field (the zone within a picture that appears in focus) so that everything from the foreground to the background will be sharply in focus.

However, there’s no rule against lowering the aperture to achieve a certain creative effect.

  • Determine a Shutter Speed

With your ISO and aperture set, it’s time to choose the shutter speed that will give you the proper exposure.

Keep an eye on your light meter while adjusting the shutter speed and when it reads “0,” it’s telling you the exposure is correct. To make this really simple, put your camera in aperture priority mode (if it has it) and your camera will automatically select the shutter speed that will work best for proper exposure.

Also, consider that if your shutter speed gets too low you may need a tripod to prevent blurring caused by the shake of your hands. The general guideline for determining the lowest usable handheld shutter speed is to look at your lens focal length and use a tripod for any shutter speeds lower than that number.

For example, if your lens has a focal length of 50mm, you should be able to shoot at 1/50 of a second without getting handshake blurring, but you’ll want to use a tripod for speeds slower than that.

  • Bracket Your Exposures

Relying on your camera’s light meter to get the best shot can sometimes produce mediocre results, especially during sunrise or sunset when you’re trying to expose the bright sun on the horizon and darker subjects in the foreground.

To get the best exposure, try a technique called bracketing. Bracketing involves taking several pictures exposed above and below what your camera suggests.

  • Expand Your Subject Matter

When you’re out taking pictures of a sunrise or sunset, it’s natural to be captivated by a vibrant horizon line and let that be the only thing you include in your photo. But, when you look at the photos later, you might find that while the colors cast by the sun are stunning, the images lack the splendor of the scene that you saw with your own eyes. This is often because the images don’t include elements that provide a sense of scale, depth, and originality.

Next time, try taking a step back and incorporating things like trees, people, rocks, water, or other natural features in the foreground and middle ground. Also, consider that sometimes a beautiful photo of a sunrise or sunset doesn’t even include the sun itself. While you’re shooting, take a moment to look around and notice how the golden light of sunrise spreads across the valley below or how the pink hues of sunset are painted on the surrounding peaks. Force yourself to look beyond the burning orb in the sky and find creative ways to add interest to your images.

Source: REI

Intrepid Scout's Tips on Best Photography Locations in Arches National Park

  • Do not expect any solitude at these popular photography locations in Arches National Par. You will have plenty of company! So, make sure to get up early and head to one of your favorite photography locations in Arches to secure your spot.
  • If you plan on taking pictures at sunrise or sunset, then you need to plan accordingly. First of all, check sunrise and sunset times. Next, check the weather conditions. Finally, allow enough time to get to the best sunrise and sunset photography locations in Arches. My recommendation is to arrive at least 30 minutes before sunrise or sunset, just in time for the Golden Hour.
  • It can be very cold in the morning. So, make sure to dress warmly and dress in layers. Check the weather forecast as well. The weather can change within a few hours, so be prepared.

Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Arches National Park?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

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