So you’ve only got one weekend, two precious days, to explore the most iconic National Park in Utah. What are you going to do? There’s so much to do, and endless things to see. So where do you even start? Can it even be done in one weekend? Is it even worth going down there if I don’t have a week off of work? You’ve come to the right place! And the obvious answer is yes, if given the opportunity, get to Arches National Park!
Friday: Getting to Arches
Back in February, my girlfriend and I went down into the desert after work on a Friday to explore Arches National park for the weekend. Due to the 4hr drive from Salt Lake, we knew we’d get there late on Friday, and unfortunately have to leave some time in the afternoon to get back on Sunday. So we made the most of the time we had in the park. Oh, and since it was in the “off-season” the campgrounds were first come first serve. So we snagged a spot in Devil’s Garden Campground for the weekend to use as our base camp.
Saturday: Delicate Arch & Devils Garden
Saturday morning, we woke up surrounded by the most stunning red rocks I’d ever seen. Since we drove into the park at night, this was our first glimpse of the beautiful landscape. We heard the Delicate Arch gets super crowded, so we headed immediately there after breakfast. The quick, shockingly crowd-less, arch was unbelievable and exceeded every expectation we had set for it. A must for every visitor to the park. There’s a reason why it’s on the license plate of Utah. And you can pretty much make it back to your car in about 1-2hrs.
Next, we headed back towards our campground to explore the Devils Garden area at the end of the park. These trails will take you to a dense section of Arches in the park. The signs along the way make navigating through the enormous red walls manageable. You can take an out and back trail that passes by Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, and then all the way out to the Double O Arch. Not to be confused with the Double Arch (we made that mistake). But the hike all the way out there is very rewarding, not to mention a great place to eat lunch. And on your way back, you can turn off the main trail to check out the Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. Not bad for one, tiny section of the park.
By this point, we were a little tired, so we headed back to camp to have some dinner and explore the surrounding area near the campground. Which, I forgot to mention, has an incredible view of the Skyline Arch. And though the rest of the campground didn’t have any more arches, the view of the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the distance, as you sit around camp in the hot desert air, is nothing short of awesome. And plus, we were ready for some Moab Brewery beer by this point. The staple of desert beer. And as the sun set in the west, and the stars came out, it became the perfect opportunity to shoot the stars through the Skyline Arch for some epic night shots!
Sunday: Garden of Eden & Park Ave
The following morning, after a big breakfast of eggs & sausage cooked on the Coleman, we packed up our camp and headed out to do some more exploring. First stop, to see the Double Arch that I’d been dying to see. This arch is located in probably the densest population of Arches in the park, which is why you will frequently see packed tour buses unloading passengers in it’s parking lots. But have no fear, there’s plenty to see and experience no matter how packed it gets. Because after you park, you you can wander through the massive Double Arch, head over to the North and South Window Arch, and the Turret Arch. Not to mention the incredible features in the Garden of Eden and the Parade of Elephants.
On the way out of Arches, you can stop to check out Balanced Rock, Rock Pinnacles, and The Great Wall. The park is full of wonders and things to see that aren’t named, but when you only have one weekend, I definitely recommend trying to see everything that has been named. Like the part of the park near the entrance that regularly get’s passed by when entering the park. This is the Park Avenue area that has views of the Courthouse Towers, Three Gossips, Tower of Babel, and the treasured view of the LaSal Mountains.
A trip here is incredible, no matter how much, or little time you have to spend. We haven’t done this yet, but you can even drive through the park with your dog and still get a good sense of the beauty found here since most arches and attractions are close to the road. Arches can 100% seen in one weekend, and you can truly experience it, just just on a superficial level. So get down to the desert, anyway you can, and go check out those arches. They will change your life!