Updated February 19, 2021
Growing up in the beautiful state of Utah, I’ve been lucky to have visited Arches National Park many, many times over the years. Arches has always been one of my favorite National Parks in Utah. The red rock formations are so unique. When you enter the park it feels like you’ve landed on another planet. There are quite a few Arches National Park hikes that are great for kids. In fact, nine of the fifteen hikes in the visitor’s guide are classified as easy.
7 Best Arches National Park Hikes For Kids
Before you head into the park, stop at the visitor’s center and ask for a Junior Ranger Book. The Junior Ranger program is an awesome way to get kids interested in what they will see in the National Park. If you have time to spare, the movie at the visitor’s center is very informative. It is twenty minutes long and explains in detail how the arches are formed. I like to teach Eli about what he is going to see before we travel. The Arches National Park website has some great information to look at before your trip.
Arches National Park Hikes From Easy to More Difficult
Here are seven Arches National Park hikes that are perfect for kids. The list goes from really easy to more difficult.
Balanced Rock is the first trailhead in the park, nine miles past the visitor’s center. If parking is available, I would suggest doing this nice short hike first. If not, you can always stop and do the hike on your way out. The trail to Balanced Rock is more of a walk than a hike. This makes it perfect for even for the youngest kids. The distance to the viewpoint and back to the parking lot is only 0.3 miles. The trail is partly paved and level with views of the balancing rock along the way.
Although you can see the balancing boulder from the road, it is worth it to get out of your car and walk the trail.
Just after the Balanced Rock trailhead parking lot is the road to Double Arch and the Windows trails. There are actually two parking lots. One close to the Windows trails and the other near Double Arch. You can park anywhere you find a spot, there is a short trail that connects the two lots.
The trail to the base of Double Arch is only half a mile and relatively level. The double arch is amazing to see up close. Older kids will love climbing around the huge rocks at the base of the arch.
The Windows Trail
The Windows Trail is a mile-long hike to the base of three arches. North Window Arch, South Window Arch and Turret Arch. The loop trail connects all three with the option of taking a primitive trail back to the parking lot if you want to make the hike a little longer.
Our favorite arch of the three was North Window Arch. It was fun to hike up to the arch and see the landscape behind it.
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Delicate Arch, the familiar arch pictured on Utah license plates, is the one arch you won’t want to miss on your visit to Arches National Park. The hike to Delicate Arch (the last hike in this post) is rated as difficult. That being said, you don’t have to do the difficult hike in order to see Delicate Arch. You can view it from two different viewpoints.
Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint is an easy 100-yard walk on a paved trail to the overlook. Unfortunately, from the viewpoint, Delicate Arch is FAR, FAR in the distance; nothing like the pictures you see. If you have binoculars or a good zoom lens on your camera (we didn’t have either) your view will be much better.
Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint is an uphill and rocky half-mile hike. The view of Delicate Arch from the upper viewpoint a little closer. If you don’t want to do the Delicate Arch hike, it is definitely worth it to see the arch from one of the far-away viewpoints.
The hike to Landscape Arch is 1.6 miles roundtrip. The wide established trail is level most of the way and that makes it an easy hike. Landscape Arch, the spectacular long thin arch at the end of the trail, is absolutely beautiful.
*Tip – When you get to where you can see Landscape Arch there is usually a crowd of people. If you want to get a great photo away from everyone, head back about fifty feet to where the trail forks. Then, take the trail towards Double O Arch another fifty feet, and look to your left. You’ll see the perfect photo spot with a rock outcropping blocking the people.
If you are feeling adventurous, keep hiking for about a half-mile past Landscape Arch to Navajo Arch. There’s a section of the trail right after Landscape Arch that’s a narrow spine with a drop-off on each side. It’s not too hard, I even saw several parents do it with their kids in backpack carriers. If you feel comfortable hiking the spine, it’s worth your time to hike on to Navajo Arch.
After your hike, the shaded picnic tables near the trailhead parking lot are a great spot to take a break or have lunch.
The hike to Delicate Arch is by far my favorite hike in Arches National Park. The park map classifies the three-mile-long Delicate Arch hike as difficult because of the elevation gain (480 feet), no shade, and steep drop-offs. If you are visiting Arches in the summer, it would be best to do this hike early in the morning to avoid the hot mid-day sun.
Delicate Arch hike begins on a dirt path that then leads to a sandstone hill. There is really no trail on the hill, just signs pointing you in the right direction.
After cresting the top of the sandstone hill, the trail takes you through several sandy areas and onto an even steeper sandstone hill. Here, the trail is actually cut into the rock. There is a wall of stone on one side of the trail and a drop-off on the other.
You are rewarded with a spectacular view of Delicate Arch after cresting the last hill.
Don’t forget to stop at the visitor’s center on your way out to pick up your child’s Junior Ranger Badge.
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