I’ve visited Arches National Park two times now in my life so far. Once, back in April 1999 during my college days, and the second in August 2017. While we spent a lot of time there, we were nowhere close to seeing all there is to see. I definitely want to go back, especially to do the long hike up to the base of Delicate Arch. That said, Arches National Park in Moab, UT is full of rough, awe-inspiring beauty and is definitely worth the trip, even if you only have a day or two. In light of that, here is a list of my top 7 must-see arches and attractions that are easy to get to with a small amount of family-friendly hiking.
Navigating to the arches
First of all, before I share my top 7 family-friendly arches and attractions at Arches National Park, keep in mind that a lot of our time spent in Arches National Park was driving. We played games seeing who could spot the arches first. Wikipedia suggests that this national park contains over 2,000 arches. Tiny arches and giant arches dot the landscape. It is impossible to see all of them as the landscape constantly changes but was a fun game nonetheless.
While that much driving can be hard with small children, the towering red sand stone cliffs provide plenty to see while going to each trail head. Even if you only have time to drive through the park, the views are worth it, though you will miss some of the most spectacular arches.
The National Parks Service has a great map that makes finding the largest and most notable arches easy. (Click on the map below to download a free PDF copy).
With this map, we had no trouble finding our destinations. There are bathrooms listed on the map at the Visitor’s Center and by the Devil’s Garden Trailhead so make sure you plan accordingly.
Now, for my top seven places to visit (keep in mind this is my family friendly list for hiking with smaller children. I’m certain there are some other AMAZING locations that I have yet to discover!)
#1 Double Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT
Back in 1999, we visited the Elephant Arch (also known as Double Arch). Doesn’t it look like an elephant to you? This arch became famous when it was featured in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In the movie, young Indiana went off the path and found buried treasure in it. We hiked everywhere around the Double Arch searching for the secret cave entrance as shown in the movie, but found no cave. I wasn’t surprised, but I think Dave was perhaps a little bit disappointed. Leave it to Hollywood to create a secret cave where there is none:)
When we went to Arches National Park for this trip, we had 2 little children, ages 22 months and 6 months old. I carried the baby in a forward facing baby carrier while Dave helped chase the toddler. Our babies fared as well as they could in the desert heat. While we couldn’t visit all seven places covered in this post with babies, we were able to visit 3 (Double Arch, Landscape Arch, and the Viewpoint for Delicate Arch).
On a side note, Dave and I had planned on making this a one day trip, however, being poor college students, our old car broke down in Price, UT on our way back up to BYU Provo for our college graduation. My dad, flying in to see us graduate, ended up needing to rescue us. Thankfully, we got back just in time for graduation. We carried our two little kids, dressed in their own caps and gowns, along with us across the stage. It made for a great memory and funny story.
#2 Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Moab, UT
On our second visit to Arches National Park in August 2017, we met up with my sister and her family. They were traveling on a cross country trip. I was all too eager to return back to Arches National Park with my now larger family to join in on the adventure. Sadly, my two oldest boys couldn’t join us as they were both serving missions for my church. At least I could share this memory with my other children.
Initially we wanted to see the parade of elephants again, including the infamous Double Arch, however, the road was closed so we had to rethink our trip.
Thankfully, we could easily hike up and around Balanced Rock. This hike allowed the kids to stretch their legs and get rid of some pent up energy.
As we got closer to the Balanced Rock formation, I was amazed at just how large it was. Honestly, it’s incredible that this gigantic boulder doesn’t topple over, crushing the earth beneath. I do not want to be there when it finally falls.
#3 Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Arches National Park, Moab, UT
After a small drive, we arrived at the trailhead for the Delicate Arch Viewpoint. This short hike proved to be fairly easy, however, by the time we got to the top, sweat dripped from our faces. Visiting Moab in August proved to be HOT. I think it was in the 100s that day.
Thankfully, we each brought our own water bottle, though I wished that I had two with me.
We wore head coverings to give added shade and put on lots of sunscreen. Even with sunscreen, however, I think we got a little bit burned.
While the view of Delicate Arch is nice from the viewpoint trail, I am definitely planning on returning to hike the entire way to Delicate Arch. None of my children wanted to join me for a sunrise trip the following morning (we stayed in a hotel in Moab). As this was a family vacation, I suppressed my need to go by myself and instead opted to hike easier trails with my children.
#4 Skyline Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT
The next arch we visited in Arches National Park was Skyline Arch. This arch was completely visible from the road.
In spite of that, we hiked all the way to the base of the arch, and then some in our group hiked even higher.
As I sat at the base of Skyline Arch in Arches National Park, I saw a HUGE pile of boulders. No doubt these came from the Arch.
I cannot imagine the noise that these crashing stones made when they finally fell down.
While Arches National Park was hot, the weather changed quickly. We spent the entire day dripping in sweat, wishing for reprieve, then all of a sudden storm clouds moved in. Hurriedly we packed up and headed back towards our car. The storm left as quickly as it came.
On our way back to our car from Skyline Arch, my daughter spotted a really unique looking arch – a manmade one.
This above arch reminds me of why this beautiful earth was created in the first place. Mankind is a part of this earth and I believe that we were given so much variety and magnificence to inspire us to learn, grow, and to reach our divine potential.
#5 Tunnel Arch
Arches National Park cannot be seen in one day and so I was grateful we had a place to stay that evening. After arriving back at our hotel, we cleaned up and then went swimming in a heated, lit pool. The kids loved having the break from hiking and enjoyed some down time.
The following morning, we returned back to Devil’s Garden to make the hike to Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, and Landscape Arch.
The view from the parking lot alone was worth traveling to the end of the park to see. Unearthly rock formations jutted up out of the ground. My kids couldn’t help climbing up on some of the smaller ones.
The Devil’s Garden Trailhead is home to some really impressive arches with well defined hiking trails.
I loved seeing the two arches side by side at Tunnel Arch! It was a really unique and beautiful formation. I especially loved the horizontal strata and coloring.
#6 Pine Tree Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT
Close to Tunnel Arch is another hiking trail that leads to Pine Tree Arch. At first we weren’t going to go because we wanted to see Landscape Arch, but I am really glad that we did.
I couldn’t believe how skinny the arch actually appeared from underneath. From the front it looked really thick!
We took turns with other hikers taking family portraits in front of Pine Tree Arch.
#7 Landscape Arch
Finally, we hiked up to Landscape Arch. This delicate arch appears so fragile! I’m not sure how many more years it will remain in tact.
I’m really glad that my children had the opportunity to see it!
By the time we arrived at Landscape Arch, my kids were spent.
Time to go home!
And so we began the long hike back towards our car.
The hike with the kids back towards the car seemed to take a little bit longer than the hike in. They were no longer focused on the destination, felt tired, and thought about getting back to their warm beds with their electronic devices. At least they got to spend some time in nature enjoying these beautiful sights.
It didn’t help that I kept stopping along the way to take more photos!
While we never made it to the end of the Devil’s Garden Trail, that’s okay. Even the sights we did see made the trip worth it!
I will forever be grateful for the time spent at Arches National Park. I hope you enjoyed my list of the top 7 family-friendly arches and attractions. As I look forward to returning someday, I’d love to hear your feedback on some of your favorite spots at Arches National Park in the comments below! Thanks for reading and sharing this journey with me!
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