Arches National Park

Arches National Park

Next to the many wonderful national parks in Colorado, is another state with an abundance of federally maintained outdoor spaces: Utah. Utah contains 5 of the 46 national parks on our contiguous United States road trip. This post is dedicated to Arches National Park, but stayed tuned for our summaries of the other 4 (Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, and Capitol Reef).

Arches National Park is located near Moab, Utah and contains an impressive 2,000+ natural stone arches. The red rock formations create a unique landscape to explore. This 76,000 acre + park has grown in popularity in recent years, with over 1.5 million visitors in 2016. Compare that to the nearby Canyonlands, which covers over 335,000 acres and had just over 775,000 visitors in 2016 and you can imagine the congestion that is possible within this park. But the line to the entrance station is well worth the wait to experience the magic of Arches National Park.

Dog Friendly Activities

Unfortunately, Arches is not one of the more dog-friendly national parks. Leashed pets are welcome. However, pets may not be left unattended (except for in a paid-for campsite). And they are not allowed at any overlooks, on any hiking trails, or anywhere off-trails, or in the visitor center. So where are these leashed pets allowed? On all park roads, in parking areas, in picnic areas, and in Devils Garden Campground. Check out more information at Arches official website, which includes a list of nearby boarding options if you want to enjoy the trails in this national park. 

View of some arches from the road.

Even with the dogs, we were able to enjoy a fair amount of the park from the roads and parking lots. We took turns enjoying the overlooks and even a short trail to one of the stunning arches. But if you bring your dog with, be sure you are okay with missing out on a lot of the amazing sites and hikes that Arches has to offer.

Camping

Arches National Park contains one official campground: Devils Garden Campground. More details can be obtained on the campground’s website. There are also a couple of backpacking campsites for those traveling without pets.

We did not camp at the campground inside the park. Instead, we took advantage of one of the 26 BLM campsites in the area. There are many amazing campsites near Moab – just check out this list of campgrounds if you don’t believe me.  The only problem is that the BLM campgrounds are first come, first served and the best ones fill early. We arrived mid afternoon and had to drive about 50 minutes down Highway 128 before we found an open campsite. On the plus side, this road is a gorgeous drive. The scenic route made the journey as much of a destination as the actual campground. We ended up at the Upper Onion Creek campground, which worked great for an overnight stay.

Activities in the Surrounding Areas

On our way to Arches National Park, we stopped at McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. We loved our hike at Rabbit’s Ear Trail and recommend stopping here if you are traveling through Colorado on your way to Utah. More information about this great location can be found in our post about Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 

Just outside of Arches National Park is the scenic Colorado River. It winds its way through a red rock canyon, creating a natural southern border to Arches National Park. In this canyon, between highway 128 and the river itself, is a paved biking/walking trail. On our way back from Upper Onion Creek campground, we stopped in the parking lot of Lion’s park. This parking lot offers great access to the paved trail. And it was also was a great place to walk the dogs surrounded by the canyon’s beauty. Just watch out for bicycles. If desired this path extends for miles north and south of the Canyon,. However, some of the beauty is lost as it travels out of the canyon and along 191.

And when you are done exploring Arches and the beautiful Colorado river, head over to Canyonlands National Park. Canyonlands is only about 20 minutes away from Arches, making it super convenient to visit both parks in one trip. This park also limits dogs to the roads and parking lots, but there is plenty to see on your drive.

Or, if you are looking for more dog-friendly hiking, check out Discover Moab’s list of pet friendly hiking trails in the area.  There are so many great areas to hike that are happy to have your leashed dog accompany you. 

Final Thoughts

Although traveling to Arches National Park with pets will significantly limit your exploration of the park, there is still a lot of natural beauty to admire from the road. And this region of Utah is beautiful for miles beyond the park boundaries. A little research ahead of time will help you find plenty of alternative hikes and activities in the area that your pup (or cat) could happily accompany you on.

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