Arches National Park: a trip for the day, week

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The view from a rest stop near the junction of Highway 70 and Highway 191 on the way to Moab.

In the bottom right-hand corner of Utah lies an area surrounded by red rock and nestled next to the Colorado River. This part of southern Utah is home to two national parks: Arches and Canyonlands.

Visitors flock to the small town of Moab (population 5,130) to hike, bike, raft and enjoy the beautiful surroundings the town has to offer.

Just a few miles outside of Moab lies Arches National Park. While the National Park Service boasts about the 2,000 arches that make the park unique, it also offers everything else that makes national parks so beloved to the nation.

Arches is only three hours away from BYU, which makes it close enough for a day trip. BYU senior Kamilla Cunningham from South Carolina visited Moab for the day a couple of years ago.

“I liked the trip because it got me out of Provo for a day,” Cunningham said. “I saw a side of Utah I had never experienced and the red rock is beautiful.”

Most of the journey to Arches is filled with flat desert land, sagebrush and mountains in the distance. There is a rest stop right before the turnoff at Highway 191 that offers panoramic views of the area.

While convenient for day trips, Moab does provide plenty of entertainment for a longer visit.

There are several options for accommodating a multiple-day trip, including hotels in Moab just a few minutes’ drive from the Arches National Park entrance and visitor’s center.

Camping is an option for the more adventurous. There are both commercial campsites and Bureau of Land Management campsites available outside the park. These campsites usually require a fee per night stayed. One campground within Arches holds 50 camping spots. The National Parks Service charges $25.00 per night at the campground.

There are a few hikes and other attractions in Arches on a one-day visit. Moab resident Carli Lewis suggests seeing the “windows” section of the park and hiking to Delicate Arch, the arch found on Utah’s license plate.

Lewis said those staying longer than a day should do everything they would like in Arches and then then head to Canyonlands (if they are willing to hike) or Dead Horse Point State Park, which is an incredible overlook of the Colorado River. Those interested in mountain biking should check out the Slickrock and Amasa Back bike trails, but keep in mind that spring and fall are much more temperate than the scorching heat of the summer.

Lewis also suggested a 4×4 tour.

“They’re expensive, but worth it one time,” she said.

As for food, Lewis said it simply depends on what’s wanted. She suggested visiting the Sunset Grill at sunset for an amazing view and incredible steaks, the Moab Diner for affordable diner food, Sweet Cravings for something a little more expensive but delicious and Singha Thai for decent Thai food.

While there are busy seasons, Arches is warm enough all year to welcome guests year round.

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