National Park Outdoor Travel Tips USA Weekend Guide

HOW TO SPEND A WEEKEND IN ARCHES AND CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK

Stay

There are many camping options in Moab, the town right between Arches and Canyonlands, as well as in the parks themselves. During peak season, these will fill up quickly, so try to plan in advance or go in the off season. My first choice for camping is the Devil’s Garden campground within Arches.


Eat

Moab is a tourist town with a ton of restaurants. While you can also do camping meals, I would suggest eating in Moab at least once, as they have some great options, especially after a long day of hiking. Pasta Jay’s would be my recommendation.


Itinerary

Day 1 – Arches

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Fiery Furnace

Start your trip with a hike in the Fiery Furnace. You will first need to get permits from the Arches visitor center. The park ranger will have you watch an educational video about the Fiery Furnace and the ways you need to hike there in order to stay safe and leave no trace. They give out 50 a day, so the earlier you go there better. The Fiery Furnace itself is a maze of slot canyons and arches with no real trail. You will want to familiarize yourself with the area before you go and keep track of your route to avoid getting lost. While this may sound intimidating, I promise you will enjoy scrambling around the red rocks and finding your own way. You will also need to hike only on certain durable surfaces, making this the adult version of the floor is lava.

Drive

After getting your Fiery Furnace permit, you will need to make your way back up the park road to the trail head. Before starting your hike, stop at the sights along the road. The drive is littered with viewpoints and rock formations like Balanced Rock, the Courthouse, and Petrified Dunes.

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Delicate Arch at Sunset

This is probably the thing that brought you to Arches in the first place. Delicate Arch is always cool, but sunset is an especially pretty time to be there.  The trail is 3 miles round trip, with some minor elevation gains. Make sure you bring headlamps or flashlights if you plan on staying for sunset, as the hike back will be in the dark.


Day 2

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Devil’s Garden 

 This hike is a 7 mile loop that takes you to 7 arches. It will also take you through all kinds of terrain, and give a great overview of everything Arches has to offer. You can do the entire hike, or visit a few arches and turn back. Whatever fits your time frame.

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Canyonlands Drive 

While Canyonlands could warrant its own weekend, if you want to sneak a peak at it while you are in the area, drive through the Island in the Sky. This drive has many great viewpoints from the top of the canyon looking down into it and offers great sunset opportunities.

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Mesa Arch 

While all the viewpoints are worth seeing in Canyonlands, Mesa Arch deserves its own mention. You have probably seen pictures of this place floating around the internet. While the best time to visit is sunrise, this is worth seeing anytime of day.

Moab 

When making your way back from Canyonlands, make sure to stop and explore Moab. This town acts as a hub for all kinds of outdoor adventure and is worth its own exploration.

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