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Scenic Drive in Arches is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of Arches National Park.
Following are the 16 best stops, viewpoints, and short walks on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park you can’t miss!
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.
Did you know that right in-between Arches and Canyonlands is the 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 this place! The views are off the charts. Check out How to Spend One Day at Dead Horse State Park, Utah
And now, with no further delay, here are the 16 best stops on Scenic Drive in Arches:
- 1. Map of Scenic Drive in Arches with Best Stops
- 2. What Is the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
- 3. Where Should You Start the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
- 4. When Is the Best Time of the Day to Do Scenic Drive in Arches
- 5. How Much Time Do You Need to Do the Scenic Dive in Arches National Park
- 6. How to Get to Arches National Park
- 7. What to Bring on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
- 8. What to See on the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
- 9. Where to Stay When Visiting Arches National Park
- 10. 16 Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
- 10.1. Arches National Park Visitor Center
- 10.2. Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail
- 10.3. La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
- 10.4. Courthouse Towers Viewpoint
- 10.5. Petrified Dunes Viewpoint
- 10.6. Balanced Rock Viewpoint and Trail
- 10.7. Garden of Eden Viewpoint
- 10.8. Double Arch Trail
- 10.9. The Windows Trail
- 10.10. Panorama Point
- 10.11. Delicate Arch Trail
- 10.12. Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
- 10.13. Sand Dune Arch Trail
- 10.14. Broken Arch Loop Trail
- 10.15. Skyline Arch Viewpoint
- 10.16. Devils Garden Trail
- 11. Intrepid Scout's Tips for Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Map of Scenic Drive in Arches with Best Stops
What Is the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
Arches National Park Scenic Drive is the main road that runs through the park.
The Scenic Drive through the Arches is approximately 19 miles long one-way. The majority of the top sights in the park are located either right along the scenic drive or just a short walk/hike from the road.
Arches National Park Scenic Drive is the main road that runs through the park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Where Should You Start the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
Start the scenic drive in Arches National Park right from the main entrance to the park.
There is only one entrance to Arches National Park and it is located north of the town of Moab, Utah. From Moab, drive north on US 191 for five miles, or from Interstate 70 (Crescent Junction), drive south on US 191 for 22 miles.
Start the scenic drive in Arches National Park right from the main entrance to the park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
When Is the Best Time of the Day to Do Scenic Drive in Arches
Hands down, the best time to start your Scenic Drive in Arches National Park is as early in the morning as possible.
Arches National Park is a very busy place! More than 1.5 million visitors come to Arches National Park each year, and that number is growing.
Between March and October, you can expect limited parking at all destinations. Parking at popular trailheads is usually full most of the day.
Arches National Park is a very busy place! More than 1.5 million visitors come to Arches National Park each year / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
From April 1 to October 31, 2023 Arches National Park implements a pilot-timed entry system to help manage traffic and improve visitor experiences.
Make sure to reserve your timed-entry ticket as soon as it becomes available!
The park will release tickets first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov three (3) months in advance in monthly blocks.
A limited number of tickets will be 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 (cell phone service is limited inside the park). Your Timed Entry Ticket ($2 processing fee), photo ID, and park entrance pass will be required to enter the park ($30 per vehicle, good for 7 days).
Important: If you are visiting several national parks then make sure 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!
How Much Time Do You Need to Do the Scenic Dive in Arches National Park
- If you drive through the Scenic Drive without making any stops, and you just want to see the changing scenery from the comfort of your vehicle, then it can be easily done within about 45 minutes.
- If you want to stop at every turnout or overlook indicated on the above map, walk around, take photos, observe wildlife, and soak in the views, then you will need at least 4-5 hours to finish the entire drive.
- If you want to hit some trails (highly recommended), then you should plan on spending at least 1 day in Arches or, preferably, 2 days in Arches.
How to Get to Arches National Park
- By Plane
Most people coming to Arches fly into these airports:
Canyonlands Field (CNY) (11 miles from the park entrance)
Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT) (109 miles from the park entrance)
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) (230 miles from the park entrance)
- By Car
If you fly into any of the airports around Arches National Park, you will have to rent a car and then drive.
- 5 miles north of Moab, Utah
- 110 miles southwest of Grand Junction, Colorado
- 236 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah
- 360 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado
The only way to get around the park is by your vehicle. There is no shuttle system at Arches National Park.
Scenic Drive in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
What to Bring on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
Here is a reminder to make sure you are prepared for a visit to Arches National Park:
- Appropriate footwear
Trail shoes are great; hiking boots are even better since they offer more support. You’ll want sturdy, comfortable hiking boots with solid traction. Don’t forget to break in your shoes before bringing them to Arches National Park. Also, do not forget merino wool socks. They will keep your feet dry, and protect you from blisters.
- Plenty of water
Without enough water, your body’s muscles and organs simply cannot perform as well. Consuming too little water will not only make you thirsty but susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness. I have been using Yeti Rumbler 26 oz insulated, stainless steel bottle, and I am highly recommending it!
Food will help keep up energy and morale. I like RXBAR. It is a high-protein bar, gluten-free, and it is super yummy! Make sure to get a variety pack to keep it interesting.
- Rain gear and extra clothing
The weatherman is not always right. Be prepared for unannounced rain or a cold spell. Dress in layers. It will allow you to adjust to changing weather and activity levels. Two rules: avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin) and always carry a hat. I have had my North Face Women’s Osito Triclimate Jacket for years, and I love it. Also, I am highly recommending these Patagonia moisture-wicking hiking shirts and Patagonia warm fleece pullovers.
- First aid kit
Prepackaged first-aid kits for hikers are available at any outfitter.
- Protect Yourself from the Sun
If you are visiting Arches National Park in the summer, keep in mind that all the areas are unshaded, so it’s important to protect yourself from the sun. Sunscreen is essential, however, a lightweight long-sleeve shirt is a must! My favorite are sun shirts by Columbia. Also, it is a good idea to wear lightweight long pants to protect yourself from the sun and bugs!
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
Sunglasses are an important part of your sun-protective wardrobe. When purchasing sunglasses, always look for lenses that offer UV protection.
- A wide-brimmed hat is a simple and effective way to cover up your face and neck.
When selecting a hat, choose one that has a wide brim, which will protect your ears, as well as your head and neck. Avoid baseball hats or straw hats with holes, as these are not as effective in protecting you outdoors.
- Apply an effective insect repellent
Insect repellent is an important step against mosquitoes and ticks that can spread diseases like West Nile and Lyme. When selecting an effective insect repellent, do not look at the brand names, but rather, look at the concentration of the active ingredients. Concentrations of DEET at 25 to 30% are the best to keep you protected.
You need something you can carry comfortably and has features designed to keep you hiking smartly. Don’t forget the rain cover; some packs come with one built-in. I have Osprey Daylite Daypack and it is perfect for day hiking.
Arches National Park is a photographer’s dream! If you are like me, you will be taking hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. The scenery is just breathtaking and constantly changing. I have a Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Super Telephoto Camera that I bought a couple of years ago and I really like it. Make sure to have a spare battery for your camera. I think there is nothing more frustrating than knowing that you still have half a day ahead of you, yet your camera’s battery is gone.
If you are taking photos during the golden hour (shortly after sunrise or before sunset) when the light is softer, a tripod is essential for long exposure shots. Also, I like a tripod since it gives me more stability when taking close-ups of wildlife. I have Manfrotto Befree Live Carbon Fiber Tripod with Fluid Head. It is only 3.0 pounds and it fits nicely in my backpack.
If your camera does not have a good zoom, then binoculars are a must.
- Trash Bag
This will make sure that the park will stay beautiful for generations to come. A zip-lock bag is a great option as well for keeping the trash you pick up along the trail separate from the rest of your gear.
What to See on the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
On the Scenic Drive in Arches National Park, you will see stunning desert views and interesting geological features, and, yes! lots of arches.
Double Arch in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Where to Stay When Visiting Arches National Park
Here are some places that I stay at whenever I am visiting Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. They are not anything fancy, but all of them have clean rooms and comfortable beds. Their location is good if you are visiting either Arches or Canyonlands.
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.
16 Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park
Arches National Park Visitor Center
Hands down, Arches National Park Visitor Center needs to be your first stop along Scenic Drive in Arches!
The Visitor Center is filled with excellent displays and information about the park. In addition, there is a large theater showing a 15-minute introductory film about the park. Also, check out a pretty cool animated display that explains the geologic processes that shaped the park.
Arches National Park Visitor Center is open from 8 am to 5 pm (with shorter hours during winter months). If you miss the opening hours, then there are outdoor displays as well.
Arches Visitor Center / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail
Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail are absolutely stunning. The viewpoint is right next to the parking area and you can capture some awesome views.
It is not an arch-based section of the park, but it is one of the most impressive things I have ever seen!
I want to encourage you to take the Park Avenue Trail. It descends into a spectacular canyon surrounded by jagged walls that reminded travelers of the New York skyline and so it was named Park Avenue. You will pass by massive rock formations such as Three Gossips and the Courthouse Towers.
- Distance – 1 mile one way
- Difficulty – Easy/moderate
- Time – 1.5 hours
- Elevation – 320 feet
Park Avenue Trail descends into a spectacular canyon / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint is the third stop on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park.
From this viewpoint, enjoy the incredible 360-view! To the east, you will see the spectacular La Sal Mountains, and distinctive formations like Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, and the Organ in the Courthouse area.
Make sure to look to the horizon for a view of Balanced Rock and the Windows Section.
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Courthouse Towers Viewpoint
This is a great stop on a scenic drive in Arches. At Courthouse Towers Viewpoint, you will be able to see numerous formations including Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel.
Courthouse Towers Viewpoint / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Petrified Dunes Viewpoint
The Petrified Dunes Viewpoint is the next stop on the scenic drive in Arches. The dunes can be found between the Courthouse Towers and the Windows Area.
The formation was produced when ancient sand dunes hardened into stone under the overlying subsequent material, which later eroded away.
Petrified Dunes Viewpoint / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Balanced Rock Viewpoint and Trail
Balanced Rock is the most amazing rock formation! it can be seen right from the parking lot. However, you should take a short loop trail that circles the base of this picturesque rock.
- Distance – 0.3 miles
- Difficulty – Easy
- Time – 20-30 minutes
A short loop trail circles the base of Balanced Rock / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Garden of Eden Viewpoint
Shortly after leaving Balanced Rock, you will reach a junction in the road. Make a right turn to the Windows Section of Arches National Park.
Right after you make the turn, to your left, will be the Garden of Eden Viewpoint.
Garden of Eden is famous for its panoramic views of Arches National Park. The view of towers of rock, knobby hoodoos, and sandstone rock formations against the La Sal Mountains in the background is simply breathtaking!
Garden of Eden Viewpoint / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Double Arch Trail
A short and easy trail leads to the base of the Double Arch which is formed by two giant arch spans joined at one end. The Double Arch is the tallest and second-longest arch in Arches National Park.
- Distance – 0.5 miles
- Difficulty – Easy
- Time – 20 minutes
Double Arch is formed by two giant arch spans joined at one end / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
The Double Arch is the tallest and second-longest arch in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
The Windows Trail
Hands down, Windows Trail is one of the most scenic places in Arches National Park!
Windows Trail is easy and gentle and it will lead you to the massive North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch. When you get to the North Window, make sure to capture awesome views of the Turret Arch looking through the North Window.
- Distance – 1 mile
- Difficulty – Easy
- Time – 45 minutes
You can return to the parking lot by simply retracing your steps, or you can take a bit longer trail that goes around the Windows. It will give you more opportunities to take some stunning photos.
The view of Turret Arch through the North Window in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
After visiting the Windows Section in Arches National Park, hop back into your vehicle and head back to the main road. The next stop, number 10 on Arches Scenic Drive, is Panorama Point.
This viewpoint provides an excellent view from the rim of the lower Salt Valley.
The Panorama Point provides an excellent view from the rim of the lower Salt Valley / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Delicate Arch Trail
After stopping at Panorama Point, continue on the main road to a junction. It will be no more than 1.4 miles from Panorama Point. Turn right at the junction and continue to the Delicate Arch Section of Arches National Park.
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 see 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) and admire it from a distance.
If you decide to take Delicate Arch Trail then what you need to know is that for the first half mile it is a well-defined trail. It climbs 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 no more than 200 yards.
- Distance – 3 miles roundtrip
- Difficulty – Strenuous
- Time – 2.5 hours
- Elevation – 480 feet
- Trailhead – Wolfe Ranch
It is a strenuous climb, however, it is all worth it! The Delicate Arch is stunning! The light opening beneath the arch is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. It is the largest free-standing arch in Arches National Park.
Delicate Arch is one of the most famous geologic features in the world / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
On the way to Delicate Arch, you will be going past the Parade of Elephants. These unique rock formations resemble a herd of elephants.
Unique rock formations resemble a herd of elephants / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint is named for the reddish glow it gets at sunset. And, if you can manage it, come back to this viewpoint when the sun is setting down.
There is a trail, Fiery Furnace Trail, however, it can only be accessed with a Ranger-guided hike, or you can obtain a day permit. The Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons that requires agility to explore.
Fiery Furnace Viewpoint is named for the reddish glow it gets at sunset / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Sand Dune Arch Trail
Sand Dune Arch Trail is stop number 13. It is a short and easy trail that will get you to a beautiful Sand Dune Arch.
You will have a lot of fun on this trail as it goes through a narrow opening and then through deep sand.
The trail can be accessed from either Sand Dune Arch Trailhead or the Devils Garden Campground.
- Distance – 0.3 miles
- Difficulty – Easy
- Time – 30 minutes
Sand Dune Trail is a lot of fun as it goes through a narrow opening and then through deep sand / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Sand Dune Trail can be accessed from either Sand Dune Arch Trailhead or the Devil’s Garden Campground / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Broken Arch Loop Trail
The next stop, number 14, is Broken Arch Loop Trail. It is an easy trail that crosses a large sandy desert grassland and takes you to Broken Arch.
- Distance – 2 miles
- Time – 60 minutes
- Difficulty – Easy
It is an easy trail that crosses a large sandy desert grassland and takes you to Broken Arch / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Skyline Arch Viewpoint
Skyline Arch Viewpoint is the next stop on Scenic Drive in Arches National Park. A short and easy trail will take you to an impressive Skyline Arch.
- Distance – 0.4 miles
- Difficulty – Easy
- Time – 20 minutes
A short and easy trail will take you to an impressive Skyline Arch / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Skyline Arch is one of the most impressive arches in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
Devils Garden Trail
At the end of Scenic Drive in Arches National Park is the Devils Garden parking lot and the trailhead that leads to Devils Garden, 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.
The trail to Landscape Arch is about 1.9 miles and takes about 50 minutes. It is a relatively flat trail that will take you to the most spectacular 290-foot Landscape Arch, which is believed to be the longest natural rock span in the world.
The most spectacular 290-foot Landscape Arch is believed to be the longest natural rock span in the world / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
If you are up to it then take a short side trip to Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches that you will be passing on your way to Landscape Arch.
Tunnel Arch in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive 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.
Double O Arch is one of the most stunning arches in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
A short spur trail will take you to Partition and Navajo Arches.
Navajo Arch in Arches National Park / Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Arches
In no more than 0.5 miles, you will reach Dark Angel rock formation.
Now, you have a couple of choices here.
You can retrace your steps and get back to where you started. Or, you can take the Primitive Trail. It is an alternate route to and from Double O Arch. It involves hiking by some narrow ledges and over uneven surfaces, and scrambling on slickrock.
If you decide to take it, then do not miss a short spur to Private Arch.
Here are the distances between sections on Devils Trail:
- to Landscape Arch and back – 1.6 miles
- to Double O Arch and back – 4.2 miles
- to Dark Angels and back – 5 miles
- to Dark Angels and return via Primitive Loop – 5.9 miles
If you decide to add a few spur trails, then here are additional distances:
- trail to Pine Tree. and Tunnel Arches – add 0.5 miles
- trails to Navajo and Partition Arches – add 0.8 miles