Seasons, Fees and Reservations
Arches National Park is open every day of the year, but visitor services within the park are limited. Lodging, gas, food and other services are available in nearby Moab. While Arches National Park can receive less than 10 inches of rain per year, its temperature varies greatly between seasons. Temperatures at the height of summer can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas winter lows often dip well below freezing. Temperatures can range more than 50 degrees in the space of a day.
The standard entry fee at Arches National Park, which is good for seven consecutive days, costs $10 per vehicle and $5 per person for visitors arriving on foot, bicycle or motorcycle. Special passes include a local passport option, which grants the bearer one year of access to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments. Check out the park’s website for more information on fees.
Reservations at Devils Garden Campground are not handled or accepted by Arches National Park, nor does the park keep information about site availability. Campsites at Devils Garden cost $20 per night. Backcountry use permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry, and for any expeditions in Fiery Furnace excepting those led by a ranger.
More than 2,000 sandstone arches give this park its name, and many of them are viewable on scenic hikes. Sometimes, hiking trails lead right under arches, affording visitors a spectacular perspective on these natural wonders. The arches were created through erosion of rock that once formed the bed of a great inland sea. The sea evaporated, leaving salt deposits that helped shape the dramatic balancing boulders, arches, spires and fins of rock that have made the region famous.
The not-to-be-missed rock formations in Arches National Park include Delicate Arch, which has become a symbol of the state of Utah, and Balanced Rock, a boulder the size of three school buses that sits on a spire nine miles from the park’s entrance.
The Good Earth
Much of the high desert in Arches National Park is covered in biological soil crust, a blackish layer of lichens, moses, algae and cyanobacteria that provides two important services to the desert ecosystem. The living carpet binds together the loose desert soil, providing an effective shield against wind and water erosion. Additionally, the organisms in the crust enrich the soil by converting nitrogen in the atmosphere into a form that plants can use as food.
Both these processes are vital to the desert ecosystem, so it is important for visitors not to disturb the biological soil crust by trampling it. Damage to the crust, especially when it is dry and brittle, can take a very long time to heal, if they recover at all. Visitors should always drive or ride on designated roads, and follow marked trails when hiking.