With over 2,000 natural stone arches, towers, balanced rocks, and spectacular views to experience, visiting Arches National Park with kids is an outdoor adventure that the entire family will never forget. From cliffs that soar hundreds of feet into the air to sandstone formations so large they’ll take your breath away, a trip like this will spark curiosity and wonder no matter what ages your kids are.
Between catching sight of ancient petroglyphs carved by Native Americans onto cliff walls centuries ago or wading through hidden slot canyons with fascinating geologic features around every bend, there’s something truly special about exploring nature with your family at Arches National Park.
As Utah locals, we’ve had the chance to visit Arches more times than I can count. We first visited when our oldest kids were toddlers and now they’re teens. Living in Utah gives us a chance to go to Arches just about every year (and sometimes several times a year), and we discover something new every time we visit. Here, you’ll see a culmination of YEARS of visiting Arches with kids to help you have the absolute best trip possible.
- When To Visit Arches With Kids
- Where To Stay At Arches
- Best Arches Campgrounds
- Best Arches Hikes With Kids
- Arches Ranger Programs for Kids
- Biking Near Arches with Kids
- Rafting Near Arches
- 4×4 Driving in Arches National Park
- Rock Climbing Around Arches with Kids
- Canyoneering in and Around Arches National Park
When To Visit Arches With Kids
Arches is a fantastic park to visit year-round, but when you go will change some things about your visit. Check out each season and our recommendations for a family visit to Arches then. As you make your choices on when to visit, keep in mind that a timed entry reservation is required to go to Arches from April 1-October 31, so plan accordingly.
Arches In Winter
The least crowded time to visit Arches National Park is during the winter, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to visit. In fact, it’s one of our favorite times to go! Winter temperatures can get quite chilly, so you’ll want to bundle up and bring layers for the kids. We’ve seen snow at Arches in the winter months but usually, it’s just cold enough to make see your breath in the morning as you walk around. Occasionally some trails are closed in winter if there’s a lot of ice, but this is pretty rare.
When you visit Arches during the winter, you’ll want to plan most of your time when the sun is higher and the air temperatures are warming up. The best time to visit Arches in the winter is from about 10 am-4 pm.
Arches In Spring
The spring is a wonderful time to visit Arches with kids. The temperatures start warming up, making it the perfect time for outdoor activities in the park. Spring temperatures range quite a bit and can still get quite chilly, so you’ll want to be prepared with layers for your kids including hats and jackets. Usually by mid-April and May temperatures are mild in the morning and can get into the 80s and 90s during the day. If the temperatures are 90 or above, you shouldn’t stay out for more than about an hour or so at a time without taking time to cool off (either inside or in the shade). Spring and Fall are when the locals spend most of their time in Arches, and are the best times for camping there!
Arches in Summer
Visiting Arches in summer is amazing, but takes some logistical work. You’ll want to be up at sunrise and off the trail by 9:30 or 10 am when it’s getting too hot to be outside, and you can go back out around 5 pm (it’s light until 9:00 in the peak of summer). If you’re outside during the day, you’ll need to make sure that you’re in the shade or in the water, since temperatures are very regularly above 100 degrees. Summer is when Arches receives the most out-of-state visitors, and we generally consider the temperatures too hot to camp unless you’re in an RV with air conditioning.
Arches in Fall
Visiting Arches in the fall is a lot like Spring, but the crowds are a little bit smaller. The temperatures start to cool down (though September can be super-hot during the day) and the days start getting shorter. This is an ideal time to camp in Arches with kids because it’s cooler and the shorter days mean that is easier to get kids to sleep at night in the tent. The air does get crisp and cool, especially in late October and November.
Where To Stay At Arches
Arches is unique because there is no lodging in Arches. You can camp inside the park, but for lodging, you’ll need to make the 10-minute drive into Moab (which is one of our favorite adventure towns, so don’t skip a visit). Over the years, we’ve stayed at TONS of Moab hotels, and these are the kid’s favorites:
While the Fairfield Inn and Springhill Suites are separate hotels, they share the best amenities in town – the pool. The pool that these two hotels share is absolutely incredible with waterfalls, splash areas, hot tubs, and plenty of pool loungers. This is where our kids always ask to stay because the pools are just so incredible (and a literal lifesaver on a hot day). These hotels often book VERY EARLY, so make your reservation as soon as possible. Both hotels have larger options that can accommodate groups of up to 6, though the Springhill Suites is our favorite since their king suite has bunk beds and a decent kitchenette for cooking meals back in the room. Both hotels include a free breakfast that’s pretty good!
The Moab Springs Ranch is the closest lodging to Arches National Park and has a huge variety of lodging options. Here you’ll find everything from a 500 sqft bungalow to a 1700 sqft townhouse with three bedrooms. If you want the space to feel like you’re right at home, the Moab Springs Ranch is our top pick. There is a basic pool here as well as a really beautiful outdoor terrace with a stream flowing through it.
The Hyatt in Moab is absolutely STUNNING! We love that there are several room options that are bigger for families. The pool here is one of the nicer pools in all of Moab, and the outdoor area around the pool is simply beautiful. The Hyatt Place Moab is a great option for families who need to sleep more people, but still want access to a great pool!
This is our top pick for a budget hotel in Moab. Whenever we come to Moab but don’t want to camp or spend a lot of money, this is where we stay. The kids love the pool and the giant water slide which is fast and fun. In fact, my daughter will never forget her last round of horseplay there which landed her in the ER with stitches in her chin. There’s also a hot tub, but it’s pretty small. The rooms aren’t too big, but they sleep a lot. Some of the rooms sleep 8 with 2 sets of queen bunk beds, which is a great option if you’re looking for a Moab hotel on a budget.
Best Arches Campgrounds
Devils Garden Campground
Devils Garden is the only campground inside of Arches (making it the only place to stay inside of Arches). Camping at Devils Garden will give you quick access to some of the best hikes in Arches (several hikes actually start inside the campground), and a prime location for exploring. Devils Garden is 18 miles from the entrance gate, but the Devils Garden area has some of the best hiking in the park, so staying here gets you significantly closer to the action. There are lots of rocks to climb and play on, making this a really kid-friendly campground.
There are 51 campsites that have picnic tables, water, and toilets. None of the sites have electrical or sewer hookups. Campsites are reservable from March 1-October 31 and almost always fill up during peak times. Campsites can be booked up to 6 months in advance.
Best Arches Hikes With Kids
One of the best things to do in Arches with kids is to hit the trails and hike. You’ll get up-close views of the arches. and see some of the most amazing scenery on earth. With dozens of hiking trails for kids in Arches, you can easily find something for everyone.
Best Hikes For Toddlers In Arches National Park
The best toddler hikes in Arches are short, sweet, and have easy trails. Here are our favorites:
Distance: 0.3 Miles
Elevation: 55 Feet
Balanced Rock is quite possibly the simplest hike you can take with your kids at Arches National Park. This 0.3-mile trail offers captivating views of Balanced Rock and a unique opportunity for toddlers to experience hiking on their own without having to be lugged around in a baby backpack! You’ll find that this excursion can be completed quickly, but it also provides plenty of space for wandering little hikers in your family.
Sand Dune Arch
On your Arches family getaway, plan some time out to relax at Sand Dune Arch. While technically a hike, this spot is known for its arch and the beautiful sand beneath it – ideal for a giant sandbox experience with the kids! When visiting Arches National Park, Sand Dune Arch is a must-see trail for all families – especially if you’re traveling with children ages 5 and under! Not only does this deep canyon have shade throughout the day, but it’s also an ideal playground. We typically bring along our sand pails, shovels, and plastic dump trucks to create unforgettable fun in the desert where our kids have been known to play for at least 2 hours at a time!
Best Arches Hikes For Kids
These are easy kid hikes in Arches that don’t require a lot of stamina or a long attention span. They’re perfect for just about any kid who likes to be outside!
Distance: 0.5 Miles
Elevation: 40 Feet
The hike to Double Arch is ideal for anyone, especially families hiking with kids in Arches! With a roundtrip distance of only 0.5 miles and minimal elevation change, it’s perfect for kids still new to hiking or just for a quick way to stretch everyone’s legs. As you start from the Double Arch Parking Lot and make your way northward through 0.25 miles of sand, be sure that everyone wears closed-toe shoes; hot days will see scorching sand underfoot if you wear open-toed footwear! Although parking can sometimes fill up quickly here, hang around 5 or 10 minutes – spots regularly open up. While you’re there, plan on hiking to Turret Arch and The Windows too!
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Distance: 0.7 Miles
Elevation: 50 Feet
For those who want to experience Delicate Arch without the harder hike, the Delicate Arch Viewpoint is the perfect solution. It’s as easy to hike for kids and has some great views of Delicate Arch in the distance.
As you start the hike, you’ll see that the viewpoint is a fantastic point to get a panoramic view of Arches National Park. About 0.2 miles down the trail, you will come to an overlook that offers a pretty good view of Delicate Arch in the distance – you can turn around here if your kids are tired or keep going for an even better view! This is a good spot to take a break and enjoy the view before continuing on to the viewpoint.
At the end of the trail, you will reach the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, which offers a closer and more panoramic view of the arch. It’s not too far and the views make this a great Arches National Park hike for family photos!
Distance: 1.8 Miles
Elevation: 240 Feet
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Landscape hike is an easy Arches hike with kids that’s a little bit longer, but with a relatively easy trail since there’s not too much elevation gain. Start your hike at the Devils Garden Trailhead by going into a narrow canyon toward Landscape Arch. The path soon turns from hard-packed dirt to sand which can be difficult for kids to hike through when it gets deep. About 0.25 miles from the trailhead, you will come across two smaller arches, Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch. These are both worth stopping to see and if you have little kids, this could make a great turnaround point.
At 0.8 miles you’ll get to Landscape Arch, which is the longest arch in the world. It honestly looks a little out of place after seeing all the thick and chunky arches that are throughout the rest of the park. Historically, people were allowed to walk underneath it, but it’s become more delicate lately, and with the risk of it breaking (you’ll understand when you see it), you can’t hike underneath it. This Arches hike for kids has some of the best bangs for your buck since you’ll hike to 3 arches in just 1.6 miles.
Distance: 1.0 Miles
Elevation: 100 Feet
If you’re up for a quick but rewarding adventure, Turret Arch is an awesome hike with kids! Located along the Windows Loop Trail, it’s a short 0.7-mile trek to explore this natural landmark. However, I highly encourage venturing just 0.3 miles further and seeing both the north and south Window Arches in person—it’ll be worth your while! Note that this hike is great for kids, but you’ll find no shade along the trail, so plan your visit at a cooler time of the day.
Windows Loop Trail
Distance: 1 Mile
Elevation: 100 Feet
The Windows Trail is combined with the Turret Arch Trail to make the Windows Loop Trail. The trail is in excellent condition and one of the easiest hikes in Arches for kids, even though it’s longer than others. In the 1-mile loop, you can see both the North and South Windows as well as Turret Arch. All of these are massive and with three arches in just one mile, this is hard to beat. Plan on combining this hike with going to Double Arch as well since it’s only 0.5 miles and shares the same parking lot (though Double Arch goes north while Windows goes south).
Best Arches Hikes For Teens
Distance: 3 Miles
Elevation: 420 Feet
Delicate Arch is the most popular hike in Arches, but with good reason. Getting right below this freestanding arch is absolutely INCREDIBLE and the views at the end are something that your teen won’t be forgetting any time soon. Due to its popularity, the parking lot is usually full from 10 am-3 pm, so we suggest avoiding those times. If you’re looking for quiet and solitude, this is NOT the hike for you.
The hike starts at Wolfe Ranch and heads east. About 0.25 miles from the trailhead, you will come across a rock panel with several petroglyphs that include images of animals, people, and geometric shapes. At the 0.5-mile mark, the trail crosses Salt Wash. This area can be deadly if there are heavy rains in the forecast since flash floods can come through here, so if there’s heavy rain in the forecast, go another day.
At the 0.8-mile mark, you will reach the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, which will give you your first view of the arch in the distance. For the final 0.7 miles, the hike is more difficult. The trail gets steeper as it goes across the slick rock, and you’ll need to follow the cairns (little stacks of rock) to see where the trail goes. Just before you get to the arch, you’ll be walking against the cliff on a narrow ledge. While the drop-off isn’t extreme, this is a place where you should have your kids hold your hands, especially if there are hikers who are going in the opposite direction. After you pass the exposed section, you’ll climb a little more and you’ll be at Delicate Arch. The slick rock around the arch is quite steep in places, so make sure to be careful, walk slowly, and watch your footing.
Elevation Gain: Variable
For a truly unique experience hiking with teens in Arches, take them to the Fiery Furnace. You’ll need a permit to enter the Fiery Furnace on your own or to join a ranger-guided hike, but it’s worth the extra work that requires. The hike is unique and challenging as it takes you through a maze of narrow canyons and towering rock formations. The Fiery Furnace hike starts at the Fiery Furnace Viewpoint, which is located about 0.3 miles off the main park road. The park offers ranger-led tours of the Fiery Furnace, and it is highly recommended that you join one of these tours as the area can be difficult to navigate without a guide if it’s your first time there.
Arches Ranger Programs for Kids
The Junior Ranger program at Arches National Park is a fun and educational way for kids to learn about the park’s geology, ecology, and history. The program is designed for kids ages 4-14 and offers a range of activities and challenges that are both entertaining and educational. When you enter the park, you can pick up your Free Arches Junior Ranger Book at the Visitors Center where you’ll get a brief introduction to the program.
To become a Junior Ranger at Arches National Park, kids must complete a number of activities and challenges (the number varies with the kid’s age) that help them learn about the park’s unique features and ecosystems.
We love that it adds an educational component to an Arches trip with kids, and also helps kids see some purpose behind what they’re doing. Doing the Junior Ranger Program at Arches is also a great way to get kids excited about hitting the trail and exploring and discovering new things on your family trip!
Biking Near Arches with Kids
While biking is technically allowed in Arches, it’s not our favorite. Bikes are allowed on all the roads in Arches, but not on any trails. Most of the paved roads have too much car traffic to safely ride with kids, and the dirt roads often have so much washboard and deep sand that it’s just not fun to ride with kids.
Instead, take advantage of the world-class mountain biking that surrounds Arches National Park. Our kids are mountain bike obsessed (to put it gently), so nearly every trip to Arches or Moab means that bikes are with us. If you’re biking in Moab, we highly recommend a hydration pack since it’s really easy to get dehydrated if you forget to stop and drink from your bottle. A helmet is absolutely necessary, and we also recommend bike gloves for kids biking near Arches.
Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly bike rides near Arches.
Beginner Mountain Biking Near Moab
Distance: 3 miles
Trail Type: Dirt Single Track
The Jurassic Trail is a great trail for families with bikers of all ages, even kids just starting out mountain biking. This smooth, single-track trail is on the western side of the Klondike Bluffs, and it doesn’t have a lot of elevation change as you ride. You won’t find any technical areas or big climbs, and the views of Moab and the La Sal Mountains are pretty great from here.
Distance: 0.5 miles
Trail Type: Single Track
Many of the Moab mountain biking adventures will start on this trail, though the Intrepid Trail itself is incredibly short! There are some sections of rocky terrain that can be tricky for young kids (they can walk down it), but there isn’t much elevation change, so bikers will be treated to a mostly flat ride. The end of the trail offers a stunning view of the Colorado River Overlook where you can decide to continue your journey on some more difficult trails or return to how you came.
Best Intermediate Bike Trails For Kids Near Arches
Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
Trail Type: Single Track
This loop trail is a great one for beginners to intermediate biking kids. Most of the trail is singletrack, with a few rocky sections and a couple of cattleguard crossings. Since this is a loop, you can pretty easily ride it from either direction, and you’ll get a combo of climbs and downhills either way. The views from here are pretty great and it’s a fantastic introduction to singletrack biking near Arches for kids that’s not too difficult.
Distance: 5.6 miles
Trail Type: Single Track
Dino Flow is a great track for intermediate bikers so if your kids are up for a little bit of a challenge, this is our top choice. The trail has several ups and downs, so it can feel overwhelming if your kids don’t have experience on singletrack trails (do Jurassic Trail first to test their skills). The trail is extremely well marked (look for the pink paint marks across the slick rock). There are some sections on this trail that have slick rock, but over 90% of the track is made of dirt. If you get part way into the trail and think it’s too much, there are several places to turn around as well!
Rafting Near Arches
If you’re going to Arches during the summer months, the only things you should be doing between 10 am and 5 pm is staying inside or being in the water. We’ll pick being in the water every time. I grew up rafting on the Colorado River and it actually creates the southern border of Arches National Park.
The easiest rafting trip is the Moab Daily and it’s a good introductory rafting trip, with nothing too wild, and is great for the whole family. If you have experience with rafting on your own and guiding a boat, bring your gear and float the Moab Daily on your own (it’s a Class I-II river). If you don’t have experience rafting, take this half-day rafting trip, or for just a little more money, you can spend a full day on the river.
If you want something more extreme, there are so many options from Arches down the Colorado River, but we highly recommend this full-day tour of Westwater Canyon. Your adrenaline will be pumping nonstop on this full-day whitewater adventure. You’ll get soaked, push your body and maybe even face some fears along the way. If you like a real adventure, plan on doing this Westwater Canyon rafting trip.
4×4 Driving in Arches National Park
While a 4×4 car isn’t required to get around in Arches, there are some remote areas where a 4×4 is necessary. To see some of the best sections of the park, you’re going to need to get off the beaten path and onto the 4×4 path instead. If that sounds like your type of adventure, book this 4×4 tour of Arches where you’ll get to go see some areas of the park that most visitors don’t even know to exist. On this tour, you’ll see Tower Arch, the famous red rocks at Marching Men, and the Eye of the Whale.
Rock Climbing Around Arches with Kids
Rock climbing in Arches is incredible (it is a park filled with ROCK after all), but it does require some advanced techniques. To learn all about rock climbing in Arches with kids and to get the required permits, go here. If you don’t have experience with technical rock climbing yet but would like to learn, check out this great rock climbing class and adventure that you can do out of Moab.
Canyoneering in and Around Arches National Park
One of our family’s favorite things to do in Arches is to go Canyoneering with the kids. We start taking our kids on these technical routes around age 8, though some are more suited to teens and older kids instead. U-turn is an easy route, and our favorite canyoneering route to do with kids. It does require a long rappel at the end of about 75 feet, but beyond that, the route is not too difficult. If you want to go canyoneering with kids in Arches, you’ll need technical experience, all your own equipment, and a permit from the Parks Service.
Visiting Arches National Park with kids is an incredible opportunity to make amazing memories and try new things. Every kid should have the chance to look up in awe at majestic sandstone arches, spot wildlife and discover the wonders of nature in such a unique setting. If you’ve been dreaming of visiting this incredible destination, don’t wait any longer. Start planning your trip to Arches now! From figuring out the best way to get there and where to stay, to planning the activities you want to experience while there we’re here to help you have the best family trip to Arches National Park.