Making an Arches National Park 2 Day Itinerary is a challenging feat. There is SO much to do in this incredible park that you could easily spend a week and not see everything. However, sometimes you’re on a time budget. Such was the case for us on our 21-park, 31-day National Park road trip.
We had a month to explore the entire western United States, which only left us with a three days in the Moab area, one of which was dedicated to rafting the Green River and part of another was dedicated to Canyonlands. This left a little under two days (and one night) at Arches.
Despite the time crunch, it is still possible to put together an amazing Arches National Park 2-day itinerary that allows to you leave feeling like you’ve seen the park.
About Arches National Park
Arches National Park is an amazing landscape of sandstone fins, rock formations, and of course, arches. It contains over 2,000 natural stone arch formations and an amazing collection of hikes, scenic drives, and overlooks.
Our family rates each park we’ve been to on our National Park Tour and assigns ratings based on our own made-up criteria. Here’s the Family Adventure Awaits Ratings for Arches National Park:
- Landscape: 9
- Campsites: 7
- Adventure: 8.5
- X-Factor: 9 (Fiery Furnace)
- Recommended Stay: 4 days, 3 nights
- Best for: ages 5+
Where to Sleep in Arches National Park
Though the fabulous town of Moab is just miles away, we recommend spending the night at Arches National Park to get the most from your 2-day, 1-night itinerary. The only campground inside the park is Devils Garden Campground.
Devils Garden Campground
Devils Garden Campground is located in the heart of Arches National Park and is nestled among slickrock formations. It is 18-miles from the park entrance and usually takes about 40 minutes to reach by car.
For camping in the busy season, March 1 through October 31, campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance online at recreation.gov. They usually book months in advance. When booking, I usually put a reminder on my calendar to look exactly 6 months before the dates I plan on camping. Even with such foresight, often over half the campsites are already full the day they become available. If you’re visiting without a reservation, the campground will most likely be full and you’ll need to head to Moab or other campsites outside the park.
The campsites have picnic tables, grills and paved parking spaces. The campground has both pit-style and flush toilets, though no showers. Some of the campsites are close to each other, though most have rocks or brush between them so you don’t feel like you’re in your neighbor’s backyard. It is a very scenic area and is one of our favorite campgrounds in the National Park system.
When to Visit
Arches National Park is beautiful all year round and can be visited anytime. If you’re going with kids who have school, we’d recommend early June when it is not quite as hot as later in the summer. Be aware, however, that there are biting gnats that come out in force for a couple weeks in early summer, and they can be pesky it you hit them in season. If school is not an issue, we recommend visiting in the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, to avoid the crowds.
Peak summer crowds are real and can create lines and delays inside the park. If you do end up visiting during peak summer season, start your day early and end it late to avoid the heat and miss some of the crowds.
Arches National Park 2 Day Itinerary
It’s possible to spend just 2 days at Arches National Park and have an amazing time and see the majority of the sites. This 2-day itinerary assumes you’ll be arriving around 9:00 am on Day 1 and leaving in the late afternoon on Day 2.
2 Day Itinerary Summary
- Day 1
- Arches Visitor Center
- Arches Scenic Drive
- The Windows
- Check-in to Devils Garden Campsite
- Sunset Hike to Delicate Arch
- Day 2
- Fiery Furnace (make reservations far in advance!!)
- Salt Valley Road
Arches National Park Itinerary: Day 1
Arches Visitor Center
You’ll want to start out at the Visitor Center. It is open everyday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm except Christmas. It is located 5 miles north of Moab on US 191. We like to review the park maps and talk to the rangers about our plans for our stay. Often times, the rangers can recommend plan changes or unique activities based on current park conditions.
If you’re following our Arches National Park 2-day itinerary, you’ll also want to check in for your Fiery Furnace tour at this time. You will need to watch a mandatory safety video before your tour, and it’s best to check that box while you’re here to save you from an hour-plus round trip on Day 2. Let the rangers know you have reservations for the tour (assuming you planned ahead and do in fact have them!) and they can let you know when to watch the orientation video.
While there, don’t forget to take advantage of the restrooms and fill up your drinking water. Drinking water is only available at the Visitor Center and Devils Garden Campground.
Arches Scenic Drive
Leaving the Visitor Center, you will follow Arches Scenic Drive into the park. This amazing road showcases the beauty of the park and takes you to your next destinations. Drive slowly and take in the views.
On your way up Scenic Drive, be sure to stop at viewpoints as you feel inclined. La Sale Mountains Viewpoint showcases the distant (often snow capped) mountains, while other viewpoints highlight the sandstone rock formations. The Great Wall and Pinnacles are especially impressive.
Look for The Windows Road on your right. The Windows area has some of the most accessible arches in the park. Plan on spending a couple of hours here, exploring the short trails with views of Turret Arch, North Window Arch, Double Arch, Ribbon Arch and more. Parking at Windows Trailhead can be tricky during peak season, but if you’re patient and willing to walk a bit, something will come up.
Check Into Campsite at Devils Garden Campground
At this point it should be mid-afternoon and time to head to Devils Garden Campground. Check in with the hosts and get your camp set up. Depending on your energy level and outside temperatures, you could explore the amazing trails around the campground such as Broken Arch or Skyline Arch, or you could enjoy a quick afternoon nap in some shade to avoid the heat of the day.
Eat dinner around 5:30 PM, or, if it’s too hot, plan on a late dinner after your Delicate Arch Sunset Hike. Spend a little time exploring the slickrock around the campground.
Delicate Arch Sunset Hike
Next up is Delicate Arch. Check out our full post on hiking to Delicate Arch as a family. This trail is hot and brutal in the summer and is rated as “Difficult”; we recommend doing it at sunset. Start about 90 minutes before sunset. The hike to the arch is about 1.5 miles, so 90 minutes should get you there well before sunset. You’ll park at the Wolfe Ranch area, where you can find pit toilets. Before starting, be sure you have plenty of water (2 L per person recommended) and sunscreen, since the hike out will be in full sun and hot.
For the first half-mile, you’ll follow an easy, well-defined trail. Then the trail will climb steadily over slickrock and you’ll feel the late afternoon sun and heat. The last 200 yards of the trail follow a rock ledge with a steep drop-off on one side, rounding out the end of the hike with the arch coming into view.
Delicate Arch is located in a large bowl. Scope out a good place to watch the sunset and enjoy the amazing views. If you start back shortly after the sun sets, you can most likely make it back to the parking lot before it is fully dark. Even so, come prepared with a flashlight. The views at dusk on the way back are incredible as red and orange light up the sandstone formations all around.
Arches National Park Itinerary: Day 2
To start of Day 2 of your Arches National Park 2-day itinerary, expect the sun to rise around 6:00 AM if you’re there in June. Eat a quick breakfast and get your day going! Early morning can be a great time to explore more around Devils Garden Campground before the heat is out. Unless you’re camping another night, you’ll need to break camp before heading to your morning hike.
Just be sure to leave on time for you Fiery Furnace tour at 9:00 AM. It’ll take about 15 minutes to get to the Fiery Furnace parking area, so I’d suggest leaving round 8:30 AM to be safe.
If you’re following our Arches National Park 2-day itinerary, then you signed up for the 9:00 AM Fiery Furnace Ranger-led tour. You’ll meet your ranger in the parking lot. Bring sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water. Use the pit toilets at the parking area before following your ranger into the Fiery Furnace. You can read more details about this amazing hike in our dedicated Fiery Furnace post here.
Optional: Devil’s Garden Hikes
If you missed out on getting tickets for the Fiery Furnace tour, don’t worry! You can still have amazing morning and see some incredible parts of the park.
In this case, get up before the sun and eat a quick breakfast. Then, head to the Devil’s Garden trailhead to hike to Double O Arch. Depending on your level of fitness and preference, you can take the 4.5 mile route or the 7.2 mile route, or a combination of the two. Both will take you out to Double O Arch. Both also involve slickrock, scrambling, and narrow rock ledges and are considered “Difficult” trails. Take plenty of water and allow between 2.5 to 5 hours, depending on the route you take.
Salt Valley Road
Following the Fiery Furnace tour (or Devil’s Garden hikes), you will be ready for lunch and some time out of the heat. We really enjoyed the drive out on Salt Valley Road. It is accessible by most vehicles, including sedans, though it is nice to have an SUV or higher clearance vehicle.
Be aware that the road is not well marked and is easy to miss. it is near the Devil’s Garden area, between the trailheads for Skyline Arch and Sand Dune Arch trails. The road initially heads south before looping around and heading northwest and out of the park.
The Salt Valley Road will take you into a more remote part of the park with much less traffic and few visitors. You will see a different aspect of the park and be able to enjoy the solitude of the desert. You can either drive up the road a few miles to enjoy the views and then head back, or you can follow the road all the way out of the park back to US 191. Be sure you have a map, plenty of fuel, and plenty of water.
If it’s not too hot and you’re feeling up for it, you could stop and do the Tower Arch Trail and Klondike Bluffs. If you have a good 4WD, high-clearance vehicle with some true off-road capability (not a car-based SUV with AWD) and some experience, you can also make a loop out of it by accessing the four-wheel drive road that heads back to Arches Scenic Drive. Definitely check with the Rangers before tackling this road.
DO NOT attempt this road if it has rained in the last couple of days or if rain is in the forecast for that day. The road is not paved and can wash out easily. Check with the rangers at the Visitor Center if in doubt.
More Family Activities at Arches National Park
An Arches National Park 2-day itinerary is the bare minimum; hopefully you have a few more days to spend in this incredible park. If you have some more time, here are a couple more ideas of activities to consider:
- Attend an evening ranger program at Devils Garden National Park
- Add additional hikes such as Tower Arch or Park Avenue.
- Check out the prehistoric rock art panel at Courthouse Wash.
- Stay out late for an evening of stargazing in this Dark Sky Park.
Custom Arches Logo
Are you visiting Arches National Park and looking for a logo? We have created our National Park logos for you to make custom family road trip T-shirts, hoodies and more. You can download our National Park Logos here.
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Irshaad Ali says
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