National Park Guide:

Arches National Park

National Park Guide:

Arches National Park

Destinations  » North America  » USA  »  Utah

Destination: Arches National Park, UT

Length of Stay: 3 Nights (September 2018)

Lodging: Hittle Bottom Campground - BLM Land ($15/night)

National Park Service Fee:  7 day pass - $30 per vehicle | Annual NPS pass $80

The only other time I (Josh) had been to Utah was actually to go to Arches National Park with my family. Moab brought back some nostalgia as I told Molly about the memories from my last visit. This time we got a chance to stay a bit longer and even do some dry camping on BLM land along the Colorado River. You can read more about the 12 campgrounds along a 30 mile stretch of Hwy 128 , just outside Moab, that are all maintained by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

There are 25 BLM campgrounds in total around the area that can be found on the Moab field office website. If you want to stay at these campsites we would suggest getting there relatively early in the day because they are first come first served and fill up quick. We had to drive to quite a few campgrounds before settling on Hittle Bottom Campground, which was about 26 miles from the entrance of Arches National Park.

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Water Conservation

We were so happy to see these at the visitors center once we got into the park. Unfortunately, we lost a majority of our fresh water from the Jayco from the drive due to the low point drainage set up in the fresh water tank. Driving over hills causes the water to flow to the top of the tank where drainage lines are located. Anyway, we thought it was so cool that the National Parks system supports sustainability by providing free drinking water to all guests. We didn't realize that Americans use nearly 50 billion plastic bottles per year, and roughly 78% of those end up in landfills instead of being recycled. We are always looking for ways to be more green and this was a pleasant surprise to come across, especially since we had run out of water on the way to Arches! We jumped at the opportunity to fill up our water bottles and spare 6 gallon water jug to refill the fresh water tank in the the camper.

We were so happy to see these at the visitors center once we got into the park. Unfortunately, we lost a majority of our fresh water from the Jayco from the drive due to the low point drainage set up in the fresh water tank. Driving over hills causes the water to flow to the top of the tank where drainage lines are located. Anyway, we thought it was so cool that the National Parks system supports sustainability by providing free drinking water to all guests.

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We didn't realize that Americans use nearly 50 billion plastic bottles per year, and roughly 78% of those end up in landfills instead of being recycled. We are always looking for ways to be more green and this was a pleasant surprise to come across, especially since we had run out of water on the way to Arches! We jumped at the opportunity to fill up our water bottles and spare 6 gallon water jug to refill the fresh water tank in the the camper.

Arches Scenic Trails

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is probably the most famous trail, as you may recognize this iconic arch as the emblem of the park. It is a heavily trafficked 2.9 mile out and back trail that is an excellent introduction to Arches. This trail is the only way to get an up-close view of the famous arch. However, there is lesser trafficked trail that 0.7 miles long and offers a viewpoint of the delicate arch from a distance.

As always, be sure to bring plenty of water into the desert (we recommend 4 liters per person/per day) because it is hot and dry. You may not realize your body's dehydration until you're already experiencing some of the effects. The last time I hiked this trail I ran into a guy that was wearing all black, and had no water because his wife had turned back early with their supply. Luckily, hikers around here are pretty friendly and he got some water, but you don't want to be stuck out here in the heat while suffering from dehydration.

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Double Arch

Another excellent choice is the Double Arch trail. This heavily trafficked trail is only 0.5 miles and offers some really cool features along the short path. For example, the rock on the far left in the first picture below looks like a cobra if you view it from the right angle.

The arch itself forms somewhat of a triangular amphitheater that allows for some interesting sound effects and really cool photo ops if you have a fish-eye lens. We met a photographer on the path who showed us some spectacular shots he got from lying down on his back in the middle of the arch formation and pointing his camera up.

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The arch itself forms somewhat of a triangular amphitheater that allows for some interesting sound effects and really cool photo ops if you have a fish-eye lens. We met a photographer on the path who showed us some spectacular shots he got from lying down on his back in the middle of the arch formation and pointing his camera up.

Balanced Rock

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We decided to stop by Balanced Rock on the way out of the park. It is one of the few named features in the park that can be seen from the main road. This is a quick and easy 0.3 mile trail that has virtually no elevation change.

While walking around the loop, we got to know a cool couple on the way out that met while they were abroad, the girl was from Ohio and the guy was from Switzerland. They were going on a three week road trip through the southwest hitting all the same national parks we did before heading off to Europe to do some more traveling!

Fiery Furnace

The pictures below are from the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint, not to be confused with the actual Fiery Furnace Trail which is only accessible if you purchase a permit at the Welcome Center. Unfortunately we didn't realize this until we got there, so no hike for us. After speaking with a park ranger, this is a pretty popular hike and she recommended purchasing a permit a few days in order to do the hike. Nonetheless, it was still a cool viewpoint and was worth the quick stop. Apparently, this feature gets its name from the warm glow of the sun hitting the rocks in the afternoon, and not because the slot canyons are as hot as a literal furnace. The Fiery Furnace reminded us of the hoo-doos we saw in Bryce Canyon which was pretty cool.

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Devil's Garden

Devil's Garden was probably one of the cooler hikes we did in Arches. It is quite a long trail (7.5 miles) and has several paths to extend or shorten the hike depending on your preference. The full loop features seven arches, including the Double O Arch, Black Arch, and the Landscape Arch, which is the largest arch in the park spanning 306 feet! The main path is well maintained, however, if you decide to do the full loop there are a couple primitive paths that are a bit harder to navigate. As we mentioned above be sure to bring enough water, there is even a water filling station at the trailhead which was super helpful.

**Pro Tip** - Make sure you watch where you are walking on the path, especially if you attempt some of the primitive trail. We saw an unfortunate hiker being taken out on a stretcher a few miles into the trail because he had sprained his ankle and couldn't make it back.

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See how this fits into the best road trips in America

Moab BLM Camping

As we mentioned above, there are a lot of BLM camping options around Moab. Listed below are all the campgrounds along Hwy 128, which intersects with Hwy 191 that leads to Arches National Park. We highly recommend getting to these campsites before noon because they are all first come first served and fill up pretty quickly. We arrived later in the evening around 6pm and had to drive all the way to Hittle Bottom Campground which is almost 23 miles from Moab. However, this campground worked out well for the solar panels because it didn't provide much shade during the day. The closest BLM campground to Hwy 191 is Goose Creek (which fills up the fastest), but it also gets considerably more shade in the afternoon than Hittle Bottom. The extra shade is great if you are tenting camping, but not if you intend to use solar panels during all hours of daylight.

When we stayed in September 2018, it was $15/night. Unfortunately, we were unable to use our Interagency pass to receive the 50% discount (which was in effect until 2017). This was due to the current White House administration cutting BLM funding during the 2018 fiscal year. As a continuing result of under funding the BLM, prices for these campsites have increased to $20/night as of November 2018. Still, these sites are significantly cheaper than most campgrounds we stayed at, however, there are no water/electric/sewer hookups and all waste must be packed out when staying at these campsites. Nonetheless, we were more than happy to pay full price to support the BLM because they do an excellent job at maintaining these great lands and making them accessible to the public. When we were pulling out of our campsite we saw a ranger doing some maintenance at one of the campgrounds so we know our dollars are getting put to use!

  • Goose Island Campground (Mile 1.4)
    • 19 sites/Max RV Length of 40ft.
  • Grandstaff Campground (Mile 3)
    • 16 sites/Max RV Length of 24ft.
  • Drinks Canyon Camping Area (Mile 6.2)
    • 17 sites/Max RV Length of 18ft.
  • Hal Canyon Campground (Mile 6.6)
    • 11 sites/Max RV Length of 24ft.
  • Oak Grove Campground (Mile 6.9)
    • 16 sites/Max RV Length of 24ft.
  • Big Bend Campground (Mile 7.4)
    • 23 sites/Max RV Length of 40ft.
  • Upper Big Bend Campground (Mile 8.1)
    • 8 sites/Max RV Length of 18ft.
  • Upper Onion Creek Camping Area (Mile 21)
    • 14 sites/Max RV Length of 40ft.
  • Lower Onion Creek Camping Area (Mile 21.5)
    • 21 sites/Max RV Length of 24ft.
  • Fishers Tower Campground (Mile 21.5)
    • 8 sites/Max RV Length of 18ft.
  • Hittle Bottom Campground (Mile 22.5)
    • 15 sites/Max RV Length of 34ft.
  • Dewey Bridge Campground (Mile 28)
    • 7 sites/Max RV Length of 34ft.

 

 

Hittle Bottom Campground

During my first visit to Moab I saw lots of campsites along Hwy 128 that rested right next to the Colorado River. This time I was determined to find a way to stay at one of those campsites, and it was absolutely worth it. We loved using our solar panels and living off grid for three days - it was so refreshing. There was little to no cellphone reception along the Colorado River, and absolutely no light pollution. The milky way was in full bloom during the cloudless nights. Funny story, we actually headed inside early one night because bats were swarming us and decided it wasn't worth potentially getting bit by a rabies infected bat on our last night. Maybe we were being a bit paranoid, but we still had a good view of the stars (and Mars) through the screen door.

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Although it was still really hot during the day, the nights cooled off enough for comfort while we kept the windows open. We were able to re-up on fresh water at in the park, thanks to the refill stations provided by the National Parks Service.

See more of Southern Utah & Arizona

If you take the southern route between Zion and Arches through Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend is along the way. This unique 270° turn in the Colorado River is an iconic site that is worth the visit. Read more about it here...

Monument Valley is an incredible region that spans both Arizona and Utah. However, the Utah side is home to famous scene in Forrest Gump where he stops running. Read more about it here...

If you take the southern route between Zion and Arches through Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend is along the way. This unique 270° turn in the Colorado River is an iconic site that is worth the visit. Read more about it here...

See more of Southern Utah & Arizona

Pink Coral Sand Dunes is located less than an hour from Zion. It's a great place to visit on an off day between both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Read more about it here...

Monument Valley is an incredible region that spans both Arizona and Utah. However, the Utah side is home to famous scene in Forrest Gump where he stops running. Read more about it here...

If you take the southern route between Zion and Arches through Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend is along the way. This unique 270° turn in the Colorado River is an iconic site that is worth the visit.  Read more about it here...

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By |2019-05-15T05:01:54-04:00September 15th, 2018|Destinations, National Park|0 Comments

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