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Arches National Park, Utah
Fast Facts
ACTIVITIES
Walking
Camping
Interpretive Programs
Cycling
 
 
Tourist Attractions

BEST

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KIDS

 
Kid-Friendly Hotels

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Points of Interest Nearby
 
Family Travel Tips
IT'S ALL IN THE ACTIVITY
 

Turret Arch, Arches National Park

 

Photo by Flavia Righetti

Arches National Park, home to 2,000 known natural arches as well as numerous spires, fins, windows and natural bridges, is a fun place to take curious kids. Even those under the age of 9. Why? At Arches National Park science is real. Here, kids can see, first hand, the effects of water and wind on the shape of the land. And geology isn't the only natural science that comes to life at this U.S. national park. Potholes and biological soil crusts, two unique natural features, are home to living organisms and offer children, as well as adults, a peek at biology. Even jaded teens are sure to confess, 'This is neat stuff!'
Getting There
 
Arches National Park is located 5 miles (8km) north of Moab, Utah and the entrance is accessible from Highway 191. Yet distance is relative. Unless you are participating in an organized tour you will need a car to reach the park, even from downtown Moab. There is no public transport to Arches and, apart from the Visitor Center and campground, there are no services within this 114 square mile (295 square kilometer) playground. The nearest full service airports are in Grand Junction, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah, a 2 and 4 hour drive respectively. The small Moab Airport, situated 11 miles (26km) north of the park entrance, offers limited commercial service. The nearest Amtrak train stations are in Grand Junction, Colorado and Green River, Utah.
Getting Around
 
The Visitor Center, situated at the park entrance, is a long way from the geological formations. Stop at the visitor center before venturing down the 21-mile (34 km) scenic road. Get information on ranger-led programs, view the exhibits and orientation film, purchase tickets for the Fiery Furnace hike, and pick-up junior ranger activity booklets geared to children aged 6 to 12. While many of the parks most noted natural arches are visible from the car, the best way to explore this U.S. landmark is get out and walk. Review the hiking trails and decide which area or areas of the park you would like to explore before the tykes and teens have had enough walking for the day. The trails, graded easy to extreme, vary in length as well as difficulty of the terrain.
When to Travel
 
The climate at Arches National Park is high desert. Summers are hot and dry with an average high of 97°F (36°C). Winters are mild with an average high of just under 45°F (7°C). Evening temperatures are significantly lower than the daytime high throughout the year. Plan to dress in layers whether you visit in June or December. Strenuous outdoor activities such as hiking are best in spring and fall but they are doable in summer if you set out in the early morning or late afternoon and beat the heat between 13:00 and 16.00.
Health & Safety
 
Heat exhaustion, dehydration and improper footwear are the main cause of search and rescue incidents at this high desert park. Wear sturdy shoes, light long-sleeved shirts and a hat with a brim. Apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas, including your child's nose, ears, and toes, before you set out and repeat applications throughout the day. Carry plenty of water (4 liters per person per day is recommended when hiking in summer) and select a trail that is commensurate with the age and ability of the kids. A closed vehicle is one of the safest places to be during a lightning storm. If you are unable to reach your vehicle go to a low-lying area. Keep away from open areas, high spots, tall objects and trees.
Hours & Seasons
 
Arches National Park is open year round. The Visitor Center is open 7:30-18:30 from April through October and 8:00-16:30 from November through March. The Visitor Center is closed December 25. Ranger-led interpretive programs are offered mid-March through October. In addition to guided Fiery Furnace hikes, offered twice daily, easy, 1-hour ranger-led walks are held at a different location in the park each day. Evening programs take place at the Devils Garden campground amphitheater. Reservations for fiery furnace walks, recommended during peak travel seasons, can be made in person at the visitor center only up to seven days in advance.
Admission & Fees
 
A day use fee, valid for 7 consecutive days, is charged per vehicle unless you traveling by foot, bicycle or motorcycle. An activity fee is charged for ranger-guided Fiery Furnace hikes. Reduced rates are charged to seniors and children aged 6-12. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Center, open daily 7:30 - 18:30, up to 7 days in advance. Camping fees are charged separately.
Things to Keep in Mind
 
Keep to the roads, trails and sliprock. At Arches, the soil is alive.
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Travel Trivia
Which of the following animals are you unlikely to spot in the Wisconsin Northwoods: