A GUIDE TO VISITING ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

Little boy playing in a tree of a red desert landscape at Arches National Park

POST SUMMARY: Everything you need to know about visiting Arches National Park with kids and toddlers, including what to do, where to stay, and tips for ensuring the best trip to Arches.

Arches National Park is considered one of the premier national parks of the West. With over 2000 arches and easy, family-friendly hikes, we consider it one of the best National Parks to visit with kids.

If you want all the details on visiting Arches National Park with kids, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll cover the best things to do in Arches with kids, easy hikes in Arches National Park, what to bring, and tips for having an enjoyable time in the park.

There’s also a small section on other things to do in Moab with kids for when you’re done exploring Arches National Park.

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QUICK RESOURCES GUIDE FOR ARCHES NP

WHERE TO STAY:
Blue Haven In The Center Of Moab (Two bedrooms, walking distance to restaurants)
Modern Downtown Moab Home (Great for families or if you’re traveling in a group, great walkability)
SpringHill Suites by Marriott

TOURS:
4×4 Adventure Through Arches NP
Moab Half Day Rafting Trip
AIRBNB Experiences

RENTAL CARS:
Rentalcars.com – Good option for renting a 4×4 vehicle

NATIONAL PARKS PASS:
REI

QUICK FAQ GUIDE TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

Is Arches National Park Good For Kids?

YES! Unlike other large parks in the US like Yellowstone National Park, Arches is a small park with one entrance and one main road, making it easy to navigate. With most of the main sites a short hike away, virtually all of the park is available to your family. Be sure to read all the way down to the bottom for our tips on avoiding crowds and how to plan your day.

How Many Days Do You Need In Arches National Park?

When traveling to Arches with kids, we recommend two days to visit the park. Many people can visit the park in one day, but depending on the time of the year, the age of your kids, and how fast you travel one day might be selling yourself short. We advise at least two days to see the park.

Is There Food In The Park?

No, you will need to be prepared with food and water, or you can leave the park and drive into the central section of Moab to find food. From the entrance to the park, the drive is about 15 minutes.

How Much Does it Cost To Enter Arches National Park?

$30 per car, and the pass is good for seven days. If you are visiting additional National Parks, you may be better off buying a National Parks Pass. Good for one year, it gives you admission into every National Park, including additional National Park Service sites. We bought one since we did a Utah National Parks Road Trip, and it saved us a lot of money. You can learn more about the pass and buy it here.

When Is the Best Time To Visit Arches National Park With Kids?

The high season in Arches lasts from Mid March to Mid October. You can expect the park to have a high volume of people that entire time, with the highest amount of people in July and August. You can look at a graph on the official park site showing the busiest times of the year here. Personally, I think early March or late October are the best times to visit. The weather will have cooled down from its 100 degree days, and there will be fewer people to battle for parking spots. We visited Arches National Park in January and thought it was sublime. Some trails will be closed, but the weather isn’t scorching hot, and the park is empty.

THINGS TO DO IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

SANDDUNE ARCH + BROKEN ARCH

large natural red arch with lone woman looking and taking a photo

Sand Dune Arch is perfect for anyone visiting Arches National Park with toddlers or young kids. An easy .3 mile kid friendly walk will take you through towering rock walls that mimic the feel of a slot canyon. The walk then opens up to a cavernous room displaying Sand Dune Arch. Kids will love playing with the soft red sand, and you might even want to bring a few sand toys for them to sit and play with for a moment. The best part is you can sit in the shaded cavern (shade is rare in Arches!) while your kids play. You might want to bring a small towel to sit on. Even though it’s a short, easy hike, it’s a magical location that we highly recommend for all ages!

Sand Dune Arch ended up being one of our favorite places in the park. That may have been because we had it to ourselves, but we loved it there either way. You can see video of it in our Instagram post here.

You can also hike from there to Broken Arch, making the total loop a 1.8-mile walk. A wonderful hike that is a great addition if you have extra time.

TIME NEEDED: Sand Dune Arch – 30 minutes, Sand Dune and Broken Arch – 1.5 hours

BALANCED ROCK

A massive red rock that appears to be balancing on a rock structure.

Driving up the main road of Arches NP, you’ll see Balanced Rock to the right. It’s a perfect stop for someone traveling to Arches with toddlers or young kids that don’t want to do a long walk. An easy .03 mile roundtrip hike will take you around the rock and back to the parking lot. The 128 feet tall rock can be seen from the road, so skip the walk and view it from the parking lot if you’re short on time. It’s a nice sight, but I would put it low on the list of priorities if you’re short on time.

TIME NEEDED: 15-20 minutes

THE WINDOWS

The Windows is a great stop when visiting Arches National Park with kids. Located right off the road, it provides easy access and beautiful sights. A .7 mile path takes you to the South and North Windows, with a short spur trail taking you to Turret Arch. Kids love this area of the park because there are ample places and opportunities to climb and scramble up fun rock formations.

*While kids can climb on certain rocks, none of the Arches in the park are allowed to be climbed on. For more information on what’s acceptable to climb on, ask a park ranger for the best guidance.

You can also opt to walk the Primitive Trail to get back to the parking lot. The trail takes you behind the arches and is a great option if you want to climb, scramble, and teach your kids about navigation skills. The trail is marked with cairns and would add .7 miles to your walk.

TIME NEEDED: 30 minutes to an hour

DOUBLE ARCH

towing red arch with sun peeking underneath the arch

The same parking lot to the Windows is also where you can take the .6 miles out and back walk to Double Arch. It’s the tallest arch in the park and worth the easy hike to get a close look at its grand stature. Once the trail ends, you will need to scramble and climb if you want to get directly underneath the arch. Climbing to get underneath the Arch isn’t recommended for young kids.

TIME NEEDED30 minutes

DELICATE ARCH

a family of three with a young boy sitting in front of delicate arch in arches national park
If you’re hiking Delicate Arch with kids, particularly young kids, you can choose to stay at the top if it doesn’t feel safe to continue down. This is what the view looks like.

This famous hike is largely considered a must-do when visiting Arches. Do we agree? Yes! It’s a stunning arch and worth the moderate 3-mile roundtrip out and back hike to get there. At 46 feet high and 32 feet across, it’s the largest freestanding arch in the park.

The Delicate Arch Trail is a steady uphill climb that has very little shade. Don’t forget your sunblock, water, and snacks! 

Most of the Delicate Arch hike is safe for kids of all ages, except for one short section in the end, which requires walking along a slender mountain side trail with a steep drop-off. We did it with a three year old and my stomach did turn a little as we were walking along the edge. If you are traveling to Arches with a toddler, it is highly recommended that you have them in a carrier if you choose to do this hike.

Once you are at the Arch, you’ll still need to be careful since the area is steep and has a moderate slope that kids can easily slip on. A lot of people choose to climb down the rounded slope to get a picture under Delicate Arch. If you’re feeling queasy about going down there with young kids (I did!), the view is just as beautiful from above. I stayed back with our toddler while my husband took photos.

TIP: Crowds are immense at sunset. Unless you’re a professional/amateur photographer looking to get the perfect shot, avoid hiking it at sunset. The best time to hike Delicate is EARLY in the morning before the sun roasts you and the crowds come in. 7:00 AM is an ideal time.

TIME NEEDED: 2 to 3 Hours

LANDSCAPE ARCH + DEVILS GARDEN TRAIL

Long thin arch in Arches National Park

Walking to Landscape Arch is another main highlight when visiting Arches National Park with kids. Famous for being the longest arch in North America, the Landscape Arch Trail is an easy 1.6 miles roundtrip. Spanning the length of a football field, the arch is so slim and fragile that it has to be viewed from a distance for safety reasons.

The hike to Landscape Arch includes spur trails to see Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch. An easy thing to add on if you have the time.

If you’re an adventurous family, you can continue to the Devil’s Garden Trail. It’s a 7.2-mile round trip hike with spur trails to view additional arches. The trail will take you to see several arches, including Double O Arch, Navajo Arch, and Partition Arch. The trail can be made as a loop if you choose to do the Primitive Trail or an out-and-back trail to Double O Arch.

The hike is difficult and at times, requires scrambling on your hands and feet to climb the rocks. With steep drop-offs and narrow ledges, this trail is not recommended for anyone afraid of heights or with young kids.

We did not hike Devil’s Garden Trail because it was winter and too icy, but if you want to get a taste of it with your kids, you can always hike the trail and turn around when it feels too iffy for you.

TIME NEEDED: 1 hour if you only hike to Landscape Arch, 2-5 hours if you add Double Arch and The Primitive Trail.

PARK AVENUE TRAIL

The Park Avenue Viewpoint and Trail is the perfect family friendly hike in Arches. It’s a two-mile out-and-back hike that walks you through the valley floor, getting you up close to the towering rock walls that line the park. The hike takes you to see the Courthouse Towers and The Three Gossips. The perspective is amazing and a great hike to add to your itinerary when you want a change of pace of only looking at arches.

TIME NEEDED: 40-55 minutes

EYE OF THE WHALE ARCH

This is a great choice for families traveling to Arches National Park that crave solitude and have a 4×4 vehicle. The main draw isn’t that the arch is spectacular, but that you can be by yourself and let your kids run free. A safe and easy .5-mile hike will take you to the arch. An excellent choice if you’re visiting in the summer and need to get away from the crowds. Bring water!

TIME NEEDED: 1- 2 hours

FIERY FURNACE HIKE

Another great choice for adventure families who want an off-the-beaten-path hike is the moderate 2-mile round trip Fiery Furnace hike. It is an adventure hike that takes you through a maze of hoodoos and looming fins. There is no set trail, so you must get a hiking permit at the visitor center. For families, we suggest going with a ranger on a guided hike. The desert is an easy place to get lost in, so the rangers will keep you safe and teach your kids (and you) about what you’re seeing. Children under five are not permitted.

If you want to hike the trail, it’s advised to get reservations beforehand here. You can also try your luck at purchasing tickets at the Visitor Center.

We couldn’t do this trail because it’s closed in the winter, but it looks like a memorable way to experience the park.

TIME NEEDED: 2.5 hours

WHERE TO STAY IN ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

Except for camping, there is no lodging inside Arches National Park. The one campgroundDevils Garden Campground, is a beautiful place to camp and highly sought after. Make reservations EARLY if you know you want to camp in the park. In the winter, the campground is first-come, first-served.

If camping isn’t your thing, the best place to stay when visiting Arches National Park with kids is a hotel or home rental in Moab, Utah.

Here are our choices for the best places to stay in Moab with kids.

Moab Home Rentals

We always prefer a home rental via VRBO over a hotel since they tend to be cheaper, are more private, and enjoy having our own kitchen to prepare meals. Check out these cute VRBO’s in Moab below:

Blue Haven In The Center Of Moab (Two bedrooms, walking distance to restaurants)
Modern Downtown Moab Home (Great for families or if you’re traveling in a group, great walkability)

Moab Hotels

A hotel can be a great choice if you want the extra amenities of a pool, hot tub, and concierge. When our vintage camper broke down in Moab, we ended up staying at the  SpringHill Suites by Marriott. It is the closest hotel to Arches, a mere five-minute drive away. Also, the outdoor pool and hot tubs are amazing! Perfect for kids. They ended up upgrading us to the family suite that had two bunk beds and a mini kitchen.

Other highly-rated hotels in Moab are the Hoodoo Moab from Hilton and Hyatt Place Moab.

WHAT TO PACK WHEN VISITING ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

woman holding child with his hands up in the air. In the background are the red rocks of arches national park

There are a few things you’ll definitely need to bring when visiting Arches with kids.

  • Shoes – You’ll need shoes with excellent traction. Hiking boots are great, but sneakers will work as well. By the end of the day, the shoes will be covered in red sand, so make sure they are shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Car protecter – If you don’t want your car covered in red sand, bring a plastic bag or paper bag to put your shoes on in the car.
  • Sunglasses and A Sunhat – Pretty obvious you’ll need these. We like to use a sunhat for our son that has flaps on the sides and the neck like this.
  • Sunblock – No matter what time of the year you’ll need sunblock when visiting Arches. We prefer to use Blue Lizard sunscreen on our son.
  • Reusable Water Bottle – Bring more water than you think you need. We always bring our Hydro Flask water bottle since it keeps our water ice cold for 24 hours. We love them! You can buy it from Amazon, but think it’s best to purchase directly through Hydro Flask to ensure you’re getting the real thing. There is a water refill station at the visitors center.
  • Cooler – Since there is no food in the park, you might want to pack a lunch or snacks in a small day cooler so you don’t have to leave the park for food.
  • Hiking Carrier– If traveling to Arches with a toddler or baby, you’ll want to bring a hiking carrier. Strollers are of little use in Arches. You can read our guide to toddler carriers for travel here.

TIPS FOR VISITING ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

Visiting Arches National Park with kids means lots of climbing on rocks.

The main tip for visiting Arches National park with kids is to START EARLY. If you’re visiting in the high season, the line to get into the park starts to build up by 9 am. Sometimes it gets so bad, and they have to start turning people away. It’s reported that parking lots start to fill up as early as 8 am.

If you plan to do Delicate Arch Trail, we suggest going there as early in the morning as you can. You can even try to do it as a sunrise hike. You’ll have it to yourself!

If you’re visiting in the height of summer, it’s best to avoid strenuous activity mid-day. The desert heat is unforgiving. Early morning and late afternoon are going to be the best time to see the park.

Be sure to check out the Junior Ranger programs to see if your child would be interested in them. You can learn more about them here.

BEYOND ARCHES NATIONAL PARK WITH KIDS

gorgeous sunset over a red canyon in Utah
Sunset at Dead Horse State Park is magical.

If you are staying longer in Moab here are a few fun things you can do beyond Arches.

  • Canyonlands National Park is located in Moab, Utah as well and a completely different park than Arches. Famous for it’s looming canyons you can do 1/2 day there and get the general gist of what Canyonlands offers. You can read more about Canyonlands as well as suggestions on what to do in our Mighty 5 road trip guide.
  • Dead Horse State Park is a beautiful state park that is next to Canyonlands. It’s often passed over, but if you’re short on time you might opt to do Dead Horse instead of Canyonlands. It’s just as beautiful and looks at the same canyon!
  • Drive Scenic Road 128 for a beautiful view of the Colorado River.
  • Hiking trails around Moab to see the red landscape beyond Arches.
  • Mountain Biking on the slick rock trail.
  • Moab Giants is an interactive dinosaur museum that kids will love. You can learn more about the museum here.

Enjoy your time visiting Arches National park with kids. Drop any questions you have in the comments below!

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