Heading to Arches National Park? These are the best family hikes for exploring beautiful arches, scenic overlooks, and awesome rock formations.
#5 Landscape Arch & Pine Tree Arch
The Devils Garden trailhead is one of the most popular in Arches and for good reason—it’s an easy stroll to several beautiful arches with unlimited potential to explore.
Tip! Enter the Park early and drive straight to the trailhead. You’ll nab a precious parking spot and avoid the mass of tourists that arrive later in the morning.
A few minutes down the trail, there’s a split in the rocks behind you that leads up a sandy slope for about 50 yards. This was a highlight for my kids as they hiked up and ran down several times with permanent smiles on their face. The sand is soft and the area is fun to explore.
A little further, you’ll catch your first glimpse of picturesque Landscape Arch— the world’s largest arch and an architectural wonder. Make your way to the viewing area to snap some more pictures and admire the immense span of this arch with the thin, fragile center. Unfortunately, the spur trail leading beneath the arch is now closed due to falling rock.
From here, the primitive trail to Double O Arch and Private Arch gets more technical, with sections of moderate exposure, so the loop is not well suited for children. Now reverse course and head back to the spur trail to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch.
The trail to Pine Tree is about one kilometer and its worth the time to investigate. It’s more intimate than other arches in this area—you can walk directly through the arch and climb around the sandstone rocks. Pack a few snacks and explore the area, or plan to have a picnic below the arch.
From here, head back to the parking lot. If you haven’t had lunch, head over to the picnic area near Devils Garden campground. The kids will enjoy exploring while you prepare lunch from one of the dozen or so picnic tables.
#4 Sand Dune Arch & Broken Arch
The Sand Dune Arch is popular with families based on its proximity to the parking lot and deep golden sand that covers the tight slot canyon. There are boulders and ledges to climb and slots to explore, so the family will be entertained for hours. You can walk directly under the arch and climb a ledge to explore the area beyond the arch.
Tip: If you have younger kids, you need to bring buckets and shovels for the kids to play in the sand—your virtually guaranteed to win parent of the year if you do.
Once you’ve emptied out the sand from your shoes, continue down the flat well-maintained trail for less than a mile to Broken Arch. The views along this section of trail are wonderful, especially during early season when the snow still covers the xx mountains in the background.
When you reach Broken Arch, climb the small hill to your right for great views of the arch and surrounding landscape. Then head over to the rock wall and climb the rocks to stand directly below the arch. This is a great place to explore or have a quick snack break.
#3 Double Arch
Double Arch is just plain awesome from a geological perspective with two arches attached to a single support. It is immediately recognizable and rises prominently from the surrounding landscape. From the parking lot, walk a short distance to the base of spectacular Double Arch, used as a backdrop in the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The real draw is the ability to climb and explore. There are plenty of opportunities to scramble around the slickrock and find lookouts perched on the rock below the two arches. The view from up there is phenomenal.
#2 The Windows & Turret Arch
The hike to Windows and Turret Arch is an easy loop to three arches with endless possibilities to explore. From the parking lot, follow the well-maintained trail a quarter-mile to spectacular Turret Arch. Take the spur trail and scramble to the top where you can walk through the arch. The castle-like rock formation provides opportunities for the family to explore and play. From this location, you’ll have a beautiful view of The Windows and surrounding landscape.
Now depart your desert fortress and continue following the trail around to the South Window viewpoint. There are multiple areas to explore in this area or climb the slickrock and find a place to sit and admire the view. From here, escape the crowds and walk along the primitive trail through the desert landscape. You can complete the loop around the back of The Windows, or reverse course and head back to complete the shorter loop via the North Window viewpoint.
#1 Delicate Arch
The hike to Delicate Arch delivers on all the hype—you’ll walk slickrock, scramble between giant boulders, and navigate narrow ledges en-route to the most famous arch in Utah. The sweeping vistas along the route are fantastic.
Tip! The parking lot can fill early so arrive early to avoid huge crowds. You’ll also have cooler weather during the climbing portion of this hike.
From the parking lot, walk a hundred yards to Wolfe Ranch, the one-room cabin inhabited by Civil War veteran John Wesley Wolfe. From here, cross the footbridge and take a short spur trail to view a wonderful collection of petroglyphs depicting various animals and an adorable horse and rider. Continue along the spur trail until it intersects with the superhighway leading to Delicate Arch.
Follow the trail as it meanders for roughly a half-mile. The slickrock climb will become viewable and, depending on the time of day, you’ll see a line of people like ants ascending this amazing section of trail. At the base of the slickrock, the trail disappears. Keep an eye out for cairns that mark the trail, or chart your own course on the broad-facing rock. My favorite route is to the far-right where you’ll enjoy impressive views of the valley floor below you.
As you get closer to the top, the trail levels briefly as you navigate through a section of giant boulders and rock formations. The trail is rocky in this section but never difficult to find. The last quarter-mile makes a short exhilarating climb along a narrow ledge before reaching Delicate Arch.
The best views of Delicate Arch can be found from the ledges above and from below if you have the time to explore. The slickrock surrounding Delicate Arch has exposure so children should be carefully supervised.
Tip! The wind can be fierce at Delicate Arch. Bring a light jacket and find a nook along the ledge to shelter against the wind.
Looking for other hikes in Arches National Park? Here are the guidebooks I recommend.
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