On my trip from Yellowstone down to Utah I stopped to pick up a friend in Salt Lake City to hit up Canyonlands and Arches National Park. We stayed 2 nights in Moab, which sits right in the middle of the two parks. I would highly suggest staying there if you’re planning a trip to either. There’s a restaurant/pub called Eddie McStiff’s that has AMAZING burgers and local beers.
One major thing to note about hiking in this area of Utah is to always check the weather. If it’s going to be clear skies and hot, you may want to rethink which hikes you want to set out on. When you’re out there in the 90-100 degree heat, hiking on sandstone, it is truly brutal. Fortunately for us it was overcast and raining during some of the more daunting hikes we went on. If you’re not so lucky take a LOT of water, a metric ass-ton of sunscreen, and one of those enormous old lady hats you see them wearing at BINGO… no joke, you’ll thank me. You will also want to be very careful not to be in the canyons during a flashflood, or they will completely wipe you out. If you’re in one of the canyons and it starts to rain, immediately try to get to the high ground.
Day 1 we made our way to Arches National Park, which is just incredible. I feel like I could have spent both days here, just to complete all of the hikes. That being said, we finished nearly every major hike in about 16 hours, skipping only the Fiery Furnace hike since some pretty nasty clouds were coming in. Personally, my top 5 favorite hikes in the park were:
Delicate Arch – This isn’t only a must-do hike in the park, it’s a bucket list hike for anyone that loves the outdoors. Besides a hike in Zion (which I’ll get to later), this is the hike I was most excited for in Utah. It’s only around 4-5 miles round trip, with 600ft of elevation gain, but nearly all of that elevation is gained going up an enormous slick rock about 2 miles in. Not even going to lie, I had to stop 5-6 times on the way up to catch my breath and cool down. It was raining during this portion of the hike which made it extra interesting due to the slickness of the rock.
The payoff on this hike is well worth the effort (and possible heat stroke), and is by far the best hike in Arches.
Fiery Furnace – Yes, while I wasn’t able to do this hike due to the threat of a flashflood, this is one I’ll be going back to the park for. You can see portions of this hike from other areas of Arches, and it looks amazing. Be aware that you need a permit for this hike, so you’ll want to ask the front gate about that prior to starting.
Tower Arch – This is a shorter hike, with very little elevation (if any), but you will be hiking in about 3 miles of fine sand which can make things interesting. That being said, this is still one of the easier hikes in the park, and not one many people go on. We ran into a handful of people, one group being a bunch of girls that thought it would be cute to hike in scalding hot sand in their flip flops, but hey, to each their own. We only had to listen to them yelp in pain for about 5 minutes before we were far ahead of them. Tower Arch is also a great photo op area since you can actually climb up into the arch without too much effort.
Devil’s Garden – Another ‘must’ in Arches is Devil’s Garden. Yes, it’s a 7 mile loop, but you get up close and personal with a TON of the arches in the park. There isn’t much elevation at all, so it’s more of a long walk than a hike. I won’t cover every arch in the loop, but I highly recommend doing this entire thing.
Balanced Rock – This isn’t much of a hike either, since it’s fairly short loop off of the main road, but I also highly recommend checking out Balanced Rock. The pictures below pretty much speak for themselves on what it is.