Most trails are short and relatively easy, although because of the hot summer sun and lack of shade, it's wise to wear a hat and carry plenty of water on any jaunt expected to last more than 1 hour.
Balanced Rock Trail -- This short, easy walk is perfect for visitors who want to stretch their legs and get a great close-up view of the precariously perched Balanced Rock. The loop takes you around the formation. The trail is wheelchair accessible. .3 mile RT. Easy. Access: Balanced Rock parking area, on east side of main park road.
Broken Arch -- This easy hike, with little elevation change, traverses sand dunes and slickrock to the arch. Watch for the rock cairns, in some places poorly defined, marking the path through the arch. A little farther along is a connecting trail to Sand Dune Arch, about .5 mile out and back. At the end of the loop is a .25-mile walk along the paved campground road back to your car. 1.3 mile RT. Easy. Access: End of Devils Garden Campground across from campsite #40.
Double Arch -- This easy walk, with very little elevation change, leads you to the third-largest arch opening in the park -- don't be fooled by how small it looks from the parking area. Along your way, look for the Parade of Elephants, off to the left. Once there, you can go a little farther and climb right up under the arch -- just be very careful not to disturb the delicate desert vegetation or natural features. To the right of Double Arch are several alcoves that may one day become arches. If you're visiting in spring, look for the sego lily, Utah's state flower. It has three lovely cream-colored petals with a reddish-purple spot fading to yellow at the base. .25 mile one-way. Easy. Access: Double Arch parking area, in Windows section of park.
Park Avenue -- This steep downhill hike takes you into the canyon through scattered Utah juniper, single-leaf ash, blackbrush, and, in spring, wildflowers that sprinkle the sides of the trail with color. The park road allows views of Courthouse Towers, Tower of Babel, Three Gossips, and Organ Rock, but it's not nearly as awe-inspiring as actually walking among them. Have a friend provide a ride to the starting point so the trip is all downhill, or start at the Courthouse Towers end and make the 320-foot climb first, so the return to your vehicle is downhill. 1 mile one-way. Moderate. Access: Park Ave. or Courthouse Towers parking area.
Sand Dune Arch -- This is an easy walk through low shrubs and grasses to the arch, which is hidden among and shaded by rock walls, with a naturally created giant sandbox below. Please resist the temptation to climb onto the arch and jump down into the sand -- not only is it dangerous, but it can damage the arch. Just before Sand Dune Arch, a trail cuts off to the left that leads to Broken Arch, adding 1.2 miles to your hike. Those who try this should watch for mule deer and kit foxes, which inhabit the grassland along the way. .3 mile one-way. Easy. Access: Sand Dune Arch parking area.
Skyline Arch -- This is an easy walk along a flat, well-defined trail, with a view of Skyline Arch dominating the horizon. On a cold November night in 1940, a large boulder fell from the opening of this arch, doubling its size. .4 mile RT. Easy. Access: Skyline Arch parking area.
The Windows -- This fairly flat hike leads to three massive arches, two of which appear to be almost perfectly round windows. It's a busy trail, but you'll find fewer people if you hike early or late in the day. On your way to North Window, take a short side trip to Turret Arch. Once you reach North and South Windows, take the loop around back and see for yourself why they are sometimes called Spectacles -- the scene looks almost like a sea monster poking its large snout up into the air. 1-mile loop. Easy. Access: Windows parking area.
Delicate Arch -- Climbing about 480 feet, this hike is considered by many the park's best and most scenic; it's also complicated by slippery slickrock, no shade, and some steep drop-offs along a narrow cliff. The reward for your efforts is a dramatic, spectacular view of Delicate Arch. Along the way, you'll see the John Wesley Wolfe Ranch and have an opportunity to take a side trip to a Ute petroglyph panel that includes drawings of horses and what may represent a bighorn sheep hunt.
When you get back on the main trail, watch for collared lizards, bright-green foot-long creatures with stripes of yellow or rust and black collars. Feeding mostly in the daytime, they particularly enjoy insects and other lizards, and can stand and run on their large hind feet in pursuit of prey. Continuing along the trail, watch for Frame Arch, off to the right. Its main claim to fame is that numerous photographers have used it to "frame" a photo of Delicate Arch in the distance. Just past Frame Arch, the trail gets a little weird, having been blasted out from the cliff.
Should you skip this hike, consider driving to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trail, which provides an ideal location for a photo, preferably with the arch highlighted by a clear blue sky. From the parking area, it is about a 5-minute walk to the viewpoint. 100 yards RT. Easy. Access: Delicate Arch Viewpoint Trailhead.
Devils Garden Primitive Loop -- The whole Devils Garden loop is a fairly long, strenuous, and difficult hike, from which you can see 15 to 20 arches and some exciting scenery, as well as can't-miss Landscape Arch. Be sure to take plenty of water, and don't hurry. A trail guide is available at the trail head, and rangers advise that you not take this trail when the rock is wet or snowy.
You don't have to go the entire way to see some unusual formations. Just .25 mile from the trail head, a spur takes off to the right down a little hill. Here a left turn takes you to Pine Tree Arch, and turning right brings you to Tunnel Arch.
After returning to the main trail, stay to the left, and soon you'll reach the turnoff to Landscape Arch, a long (306-ft.), thin ribbon of stone that is one of the most beautiful arches in the park. This is about a 2-mile round-trip trail and is an absolute must-see during a visit to Arches National Park. Geologically speaking, Landscape Arch is quite mature and may collapse any day. Almost immediately after passing Landscape Arch, look to your right for Wall Arch. From here the trail is less well defined, but marked by cairns.
After another .25 mile, a side trip to the left has two spurs leading to Partition Arch, which you could see earlier behind Landscape Arch, and Navajo Arch. The spurs take you right up under the arches. Navajo Arch is shaded, providing a spot to stop and take a breather while absorbing the view.
Once back on the main trail, which gets rougher and slicker as you hike, it's .5 mile to the strange Double O Arch, where one arch stands atop another. Now you've reached another junction. The left spur leads to the Dark Angel, a dark sandstone spire reaching toward the heavens from the desert floor. The right spur takes you on to the primitive loop, a difficult trip through a dramatic desert environment with some drop-offs and narrow ledges. Along this part of the trail is just one major arch, Private Arch, on a short spur to the right. You'll have the primitive loop almost to yourself -- most people turn back at Double O Arch rather than tackle this more difficult trail. 7.2 miles RT. Easy to strenuous. Access: Devils Garden Trailhead.
Fiery Furnace -- This is a difficult and strenuous hike to some of the most colorful formations in the park. The name comes from the rich reddish glow the rocks take on at sunset.
Guided hikes run daily from spring through fall. You can also choose to head out on your own, although you must first obtain a permit (there's a fee) and watch a short video presentation. Trails aren't marked, so unless you are experienced in the Fiery Furnace, it's best to join a guided hike. 2 miles RT. Moderate to strenuous. Access: Fiery Furnace parking area.
Tower Arch -- This is a short but rugged hike on a primitive trail. It starts with a steep incline to the top of the bluff and proceeds up and down, with great views of the Klondike Bluffs to the right. Beware of the slickrock that makes up part of the trail, and watch for the cairns leading the way. The hardest part is near the end, where you struggle uphill through loose sand. Your reward is a grand sight: the immense Tower Arch standing among a maze of sandstone spires. Climb up under it for a soothing view while you take a much-deserved break. In spring, the majestic, snowcapped La Sal Mountains can be seen to the east through the arch opening. 1.7 miles one-way. Strenuous. Access: Follow Salt Valley Rd. for 7 miles, turn left toward Klondike Bluffs, and go 1.5 miles to the Tower Arch trail head. (Be careful not to take the left turn just before the Klondike Bluffs Rd., which is a difficult four-wheel-drive road.)
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.