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How To Spend 4 Hours In Arches National Park

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Many have asked how to spend 4 hours in Arches National Park. Is it even doable? Arches National Park is one of the greats of the national park system. Many people have it on their bucket list of things to do before they die. But is it possible to see it in such a short period of time?

How To Spend 4 Hours In Arches National Park
Switchback Road At The Entrance Of Arches National Park

Can You Do Arches In A Few Hours?

It’s summertime. You’re off work for two weeks and you planned every minute detail of your “National Park Summertime Extravaganza”. It’s just about the time that you hit Black Canyon of the Gunnison, that you realize you forgot to include Arches National Park! How could you? You’ve been wanting to walk down Park Avenue since you read about it in your fifth grade social studies class.

You have to squeeze it in somehow. It’s difficult to find the time but you find four hours. You want to maximize that time. But, you’re not sure How To Spend 4 hours in Arches National Park.

How Much Time Do You Need At Arches National Park?

First, you must ask this question in order to know How To Spend 4 Hours In Arches National Park. Arches National Park can be seen in four hours or four months. It just depends on how you decide to spend your time.

I’ve personally spent a combined two months in or around the park and I can tell you that I still haven’t seen nearly all that it has to offer. But if you only have four hours and you want to explore some of the highlights, you can follow a four hour itinerary.

How Long Is The Scenic Drive In Arches National Park?

The park is open 24 hours a day 365 Days a year. So, if you find yourself with a few extra hours on any trip, you will never have to worry about the park’s availability.

You can drive the main park drive, which is 36 miles round trip, in an hour. Of course, you wouldn’t have much time to enjoy the sights, but at least you could get the flavor of the park. You could then plan a longer trip in March or even December.

How To Spend 4 Hours In Arches National Park

How To Spend 4 Hours In Arches National Park

Hour One

You’ve made it! Your’re finally going to be able to see one of the most famous , iconic places on planet Earth. Now, you know you only have four hours, so you need to make the best of every moment. You stayed up late last night planning your whirlwind agenda until the wee hours of the morning. Will you be able to get it done?

It is the month of June, and you know from your research that this is one of the busiest months of the year. You know from reading the article, “Visiting Arches National Park in June“, that you should enter the park after 3pm in order to miss the heaviest crowds. You also read that you should enter the park early or later in the day so that the midday heat won’t be so taxing.

Once entering the gates, it takes about thirty minutes to get to Devil’s Garden, which is at the back of the park. Once you’re there, you decide to hike the Devil’s Garden Trail to Landscape Arch. You know that this is one of the most recognizable arches in the park and that Devil’s Garden has other beautiful sandstone formations along the trail to enjoy.

Devil’s Garden Hike

Hour Two

Making your way back towards the park entrance, you can now start to see everything you passed up on the way out. You made a note of everything you wanted to see as you passed the signs. You see Fiery Furnace and you know that this is a hike that you want to do, but it requires a permit and you just don’t have the time. Maybe next time.

You come to a fork in the road where Delicate Arch can be reached. You know you just have to see this arch. This is the one that was in your fifth grade social studies book that made you want to visit so desperately. You take a left and arrive at the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. This is not as close as you may have imagined, but you know that seeing it in person, although far away is still an awesome experience. Hiking to the arch would take at least 2.5 hours. Oh, how you wish you had the time!

Delicate Arch From the Lower Viewpoint

You make your way back down the road until you come back to the main park road and take a left. You are off to a good start in your quest to spend 4 hours in Arches National Park.

Hour Three

You drive the short loop to gaze at Panorama Point, jump out of your car and snap a quick picture. You think to yourself, the next time you come, you’ll picnic here. You continue down the park road until you see the signs on the left for Double Arch and The Windows. You know that these are magnificent arches to see, so you continue down this road and hurriedly take the half mile trail to Double Arch.

The Windows

You step underneath the Double Arch and you feel as if you’ve entered the great sanctuary of a cathedral. Although there are many people, you could hear a pin drop. This ethereal feel will stay with you for a long time after leaving. Unfortunately, you have to get going.

You turn to walk down the mile long path to the North and South Windows. They are so much bigger than you thought they would be. You are in awe of how sun, wind and rain have the power to carve such a masterpiece. On your way back to the main park road, you see signs for all sorts of arches and landforms. There’s so many you lose count. The only one that solidifies in your mind was the sign that reads Elephant Butte. You decide this one alone is worth planning another trip back to Arches.

Hour Four

You hastily drive onto the main road and almost miss Balanced Rock on the left. It’s right off the road, so you decide to make a quick stop and grab a selfie to prove to your friends that you actually were here.

You hop back in you car and see that you only have about 45 minutes before you must get back on the road. You pass Tower of Babel and the Organ on the left, and then Sheep Rock and Three Gossips. You voice to text to your phone notes that these must go on the list for next time.

You reach your destination with thirty minutes to spare. Park Avenue is a located in a steep canyon that connects to Courthouse Towers. Will the hype you’ve heard match with real life? It’s even better than you’ve imagined. The 600 foot giants make you feel like a tiny speck. You wish you could go on but you have to speed up your hike to a jog back to the parking lot. You have to get back on the road to your next destination before nightfall.

You are so glad you made time for this stop. You can’t imagine missing out on such a unique experience. You’ve made your notes, and now you’re planning a week long trip of a lifetime next summer at Arches National Park.

Wendy Edwards
Wendy is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. But for the past seven years she has traveled by RV to many National Parks, monuments and everywhere in between. She and her family of five, a furry canine friend and a bearded dragon have crossed the United States thirty one times. She never tires of hiking, biking, camping and photographing this beautiful country.