Let’s Do Arches
Heading to Arches National Park this summer? We’ve written about Arches in-depth before. But we wanted to throw together some suggestions for three hikes that you should definitely check out when you’re there. One is super easy, one super strenuous, one is moderate, and all are fantastic!
Skip the Hike to Delicate Arch
Ok, so as you know, Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in Arches, and probably the most famous Arch in the United States. Consequently, loads of people hike to it every day in the summer. And you totally can too. We’ve got a blog post just about hiking to Delicate Arch for you to read. But there is another way to see the famous landmark that doesn’t involve a long desert trek. So if you’re not feeling like you have it in you to hike the three-miles roundtrip, then go to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint instead.
To get to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, drive past the Delicate Arch trailhead until the road ends. There is a half-mile paved, handicap-accessible trail that will take you to a great overlook of the arch. And you’ll get to see what those who hike to the arch miss – Delicate Arch in the context of the larger landscape. Plus, the hike to the viewpoint is way easier.
Wander Around the Devil’s Garden
“But what if I like to hike, like really hike, in the desert heat?” we hear you ask. Well then you’re in luck. Not only should you hike to Delicate Arch (and also go check out the viewpoint too, because it’s awesome) but you should head to the Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop Trail. It’s located beyond Landscape Arch – the longest arch in the world, by the way – and will lead you into the largest concentration of natural arches and bridges in the world!
It’s seven miles roundtrip, so it’s not for the faint of heart. (And since it is a strenuous and remote hike, you should read this guide first before you venture out.) Plan on spending at least half a day on the trail. Also, when you are about to make the return trip on the other side of the loop, you see a little half-mile detour to Dark Angel. You’ve come all this way, you should go see this huge monolith.
Tower Arch, the One that Started it All
If you’re willing to drive over 8-miles of washboard roads, then hike another moderate 2.6-miles roundtrip then you will find yourself at Tower Arch. It’s one of the most secluded spots in Arches National Park, and it’s one of the coolest. Plus, it’s huge! In a way that none of the other arches are. It’s worth the trip. Pro tip: go to Tower Arch early in the morning, since the summer monsoon season in Southern Utah means that rains might make the road impassible in the afternoon.
We think of Delicate Arch as the quintessential arch of Arches National Park (and that may be the case today) but it was actually Tower Arch, as seen in 1922 by Alex Ringhoffer, that started the process for Arches to become a national monument in 1929. So you can thank Tower Arch for your whole vacation to this great national park!