Arches National Park is one of Utah's most pristine natural wonders, home to vast desert landscapes and stunning wildlife. Taking a drive to this wonderful national park is one of the best road trip plans in the USA.
Arches National Park is easy to reach, and the drive is straightforward. The national park is just 5 miles from Moab, the closest city. To reach the Arches National Park, you will have the option to drive paved or a mixture of unpaved and paved roads.
If you love nature and high-desert adventure, you'll want to make the short drive to Arches National Park. Read on below to learn more about how long it takes to drive there, how to drive through it, and tips that will impact your driving time.
How long does it take to drive through Arches National Park
|Paved Road Route||50 miles||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Paved and Unpaved Roads Route||70 miles||2 hours 30 minutes|
There's only one paved entrance to Arches National Park, so you can expect an easy entry with few hassles along the way. The entrance is on the south side of the park near Moab. There are other entrances, but these are considered ‘secret entrances' through unpaved roads.
Once you reach the park, the road system in Arches National Park comprises paved roads and dirt tracks. You can drive on unpaved roads but we recommend a suitable vehicle, something with 4-wheel drive and good sturdy tires.
Once you reach the National Park, it's time to drive inside. To complete the journey through Arches National Park on the paved roads it takes only 1 hour 30 minutes without stops.
To drive through Arches National Park on both paved and unpaved roads it'll take 2 hours and 30 minutes without stops to go to the notable landmarks, which is highly recommended.
On The Paved Roads Route, there are at least 4 incredible stops that are worth visiting. Each one is very popular and beloved by hikers and photographers.
First up, you'll come to the Courthouse Towers with stone columns and then the Devil's Garden with the Skyline and Tapestry Arches.
Then, you'll make it to the Windows Section with the park's largest Arches. And finally, the last monument, the Delicate Arch, the park's most famous arch.
Each of these stops works out to a stop every 11 miles or 20 minutes into the drive. If you allow a 30-minute stop for each of the 4 stops it will add around 2 hours to your journey, giving you a new total of 3 hours 30 minutes if there's no traffic at the entrance.
You won't have to stay the night to complete this short journey. However, to truly immerse yourself in Arches National Park, you can stay at one of the campgrounds.
The most famous campground is the Devil's Garden Campground 18 miles into the park. It's surrounded by hiking trails and has drinking water and flush toilets. If you plan a busy hiking schedule alongside camping, then set aside 2 days for this trip altogether.
You might need to make a reservation for a timed-entry permit while visiting Arches National Park. Please check the national park's website for up-to-date information.
Driving the Paved Road Route
From Moab, Utah, drive North on US-191 to and turn right at the signposts for Arches National Park. Follow Arches Entrance Road until you meet the Arches National Entrance Station.
Once you're admitted into the park, you'll find the Arches National Park Visitor Center on your right for information.
Continuing your journey you'll encounter a couple of switchbacks, after them, there's Moab Fault Overlook with an information board and dramatic vistas.
Driving along Arches National Park Road, you'll drive past Park Avenue Viewpoint, and La Sal Mountain Viewpoint before reaching Courthouse Towers, Sheep Rock and Tower of Babel.
The next stop is Petrified Dunes Viewpoint and a little further you'll find Balanced Rock. Stay on the road and veer left past the Fiery Furnace and Sand Dune Arch to reach the Devil's Garden Trailhead. Here there are trailheads to several arches in the Northern part of the National Park and a campground. You can loop back here to drive in the direction where you came from.
On the way back, take a left turn onto Delicate Arch Road that'll lead to viewpoints of both Upper and Lower Delicate Arch.
Head back onto the Arches National Park Road and head towards the exit. Before that, take another left on The Windows Road. Here there's Elephant Butte Turret Arch and many other notable landmarks.
Looping back you can rejoin Arches National Park Road and head towards the Entrance Station where you entered the park to exit.
Driving the Paved and Unpaved Roads Route
For the Paved and Unpaved Route, you'll need to drive North on US-Highway 191 and turn right at the signposts. Carry on Arches Entrance Road until you find the Arches National Entrance Station.
After you enter, the Arches National Park Visitor Center will be on your right side if you need any more information.
As you move forward on your trip, you'll find a couple of switchbacks, and then the Moab Fault Overlook with a board of information and grand views.
As you drive down Arches National Park Road, you will pass by Park Avenue Viewpoint, and La Sal Mountain Viewpoint, before getting to Courthouse Towers, Sheep Rock and Tower of Babel.
Petrified Dunes Viewpoint is the next stop and Balanced Rock is just a little further along. If you want to get to Windows Road, take a right turn. Elephant Butte and Turret Arch are here, and there are plenty of other impressive landmarks.
Proceed and turn right onto Delicate Arch Road. You'll be able to see both Upper and Lower Delicate Arch from there.
Rejoin the Arches National Park Road and drive North with the option of stopping at Salt Valley Overlook, Fiery Furnace and Skyline Arch.
Continue on Arches National Park Road to reach the Devil's Garden Trailhead. The Northern part of the National Park features trailheads to multiple arches and a campground. Loop back and take a right onto Arches Salt Wash Road.
The unpaved road will lead to Tower Arch and Anniversary Arch. Head back to Arches National Park Road and follow it until you reach Balanced Rock and turn onto Willow Springs Trail.
You'll pass Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracks and Willow Springs Camping. Then, you'll eventually meet Highway 191 where you can drive South to return to Moab.
Things to know that can impact your driving time
Although Arches National Park is an easy-to-reach destination with plenty of road access, there are some things to keep in mind to make your trip go smoother. First, once you arrive, you can expect waiting times of 30 minutes at the Entrance Station.
From March to October, you can expect longer waiting times at the Entrance Station. At peak times on busy days, the traffic can even back up to the highway. In this scenario, you'll have to drive back and come back a few hours later.
Once you get in, the parking lots for the trailheads can fill as early as 7:30am in summer. Summer is also when the area experiences the most rain, however, this isn't likely to affect travel times much.
From March to October, it's difficult to get a parking spot. Spring break, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day are in particular very busy and are best to avoid.
When in Moab, tune into 1610 AM for up-to-date conditions.
Tips to drive through Arches National Park in the shortest possible time
No matter where you drive in the world, there are ways to ensure you have a safe and stress-free drive. Below are our recommended tips for cutting time and staying safe on your drive to Arches National Park.
First, have two drivers available so you can alternate and stay fresh. If you aren't wary of driving in the dark, setting off after the rush hour will help you to reach the national park faster and there will likely to be less traffic.
If you choose an economical car, you can minimize refueling stops. Having a full tank of gas as you start your trip will mean that you won't have to stop for gas as often. Also, keep in mind that there are no gas stations within the park.
Arches National Park gets 1.5 million visitors per year. The park is open 24 hours per day 7 days a week, so you will have plenty of option to choose from when it comes to when to visit. This will allow you to pick a time when the park won't be as busy and crowded.
To beat the traffic, enter the park early. Many parking lots are full by 7:30am. So try entering at 6am, or late afternoon.